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November 06, 2014

The Perfect Candidate!

In Washington State, an unexpected problem with early voting emerges:

In August, the Federal Way Mirror in Washington State said of their close 30th District state house election, "this race may be the most interesting to watch. Two good, smart candidates who know the issues and will run a very clean race."

It was a race to watch, but not for the reason they predicted.

The incumbent Democratic state Rep. Roger Freeman — one of two black representatives in the state legislature — died at the end of October at the age of 48. Around 15 percent of the district's voters had already mailed in their ballots, and at the end of Election night he had a six-point-lead over his Republican opponent, Jack Dovey.

How often do voters elect dead people?

Voters elect people whose hearts no longer thump to the beat of democracy more than you'd think. Last year, Oregon voters elected a man to the Aberdeen City Council five months after he died. Missouri elected a dead man who was running unopposed to serve as county commissioner in 2010.

...Hackensack High School Principal Joseph DeFalco died after the polls had opened in 2005, and was elected to the city council for a four-year term he could not complete, or even start. In 1998, a dead woman, Jacquelyn Morrow Lewis Ledgerwood, made it to a run-off in the Oklahoma Senate's Democratic primary.

The New York Times reported at the time,

''It's really baffling,'' Brent Wilcox, political director at the state Democratic Party, said today. ''I had a couple people tell me they voted for her because she had the longest name.''

Suddenly, lack of civic engagement begins to look like a good thing.

Posted by Cassandra at November 6, 2014 08:47 AM

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The one thing I note about dead candidates is how few of them break their campaign promises once elected. It's remarkable, really.

Posted by: spd rdr at November 7, 2014 01:39 PM

It's almost like they're not trying :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 7, 2014 03:02 PM

It has a symmetry: the dead electing the dead.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 10, 2014 11:41 AM

I didn't realize the university was holding elections for government for the whole state of Washington. That's a surprisingly novel idea for the liberals.

Posted by: DL Sly at November 10, 2014 01:08 PM

Chesterton said that tradition was the democracy of the dead. Turns out...

Posted by: Grim at November 10, 2014 01:18 PM

While I don't think I'm entirely Heinleinesque about the whole business, I do actually believe that not only is lack of civic engagement a good thing, but people should be actively discouraged from voting. Or, to be more precise, the bar for whether you get to vote should be set rather much higher than whether you were born in the right place.

Why? Because democracy (done right) presupposes a citizenry that is highly literate and educated, strongly motivated to do the *right* thing in the interests of themselves and their republic (in this case), and possessed of a long-term vision. Not to mention civic-mindedness, of course.

What you have now in most parts of the world are 2-party systems with 40% of the populace voting Party A, another 40% of the populace voting B, and 20% playing kingmakers. Who knows, maybe that's how it was back in Athens during Aristotle's time too.

So bring on the poll taxes and the citizenship tests. Heck, make sure only nett taxpayers can vote (although enforcement would be a killer). As long as nobody is trying to make the playing field uneven by buggering up somebody's chances of *paying* or *passing*, that is.

OTOH, having a dead dude in the hot seat isn't so bad after all. You know for a fact he won't betray your expectations or accept bribes, he'll hold a steady course, and best of all, his speeches and press conferences will be short and sweet!

Posted by: Gregory Kong at November 13, 2014 10:11 AM