Thursday, October 29, 2020

The world is confused

Stanley - Thursday

As you can imagine, there is anxious anticipation around the world about the election because the outcome will affect every country. The anxiety is heightened because the system is so little understood, especially after the 2000 election and the election of President Trump, despite a loss in the popular vote.

One thing that is certain is that most of the world is totally confused by the electoral system in the United States. The items below are not ranked by their confusion-inducing ability. 

1. The electoral college system came into focus in 2016 for the rest of the world when Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton, even though he trailed by over three million votes overall. What is the electoral college and why was it created?

2. The election period preceding a presidential election is at least two years. The consensus overseas is that Americans must be masochists to tolerate a system that lasts so long. For most countries that I am aware of, the period running up to an election is a coupe of months.

3. Members of the House of Representatives are elected every two years. People overseas look at this and wonder how any work gets done, because it seems that as soon as an election is finished, fundraising for the next election begins.

4. Money! It boggles overseas observers' minds that an estimated $11 billion to $14 billion will be spent on the elections this year. 

5. Money! From foreign shores, it seems reasonable to limit individual contributions to candidates. However, when it comes to PACs and Super-PACs, there is bewilderment, not only as to what they are, but also as to what and how they can support candidates financially. As a voter, I have tried to understand the rules, but have generally failed. Click here if you want to find out or if you are having trouble sleeping.

6. In all matters, not only elections, people in other countries fail to understand that the United States is far from united when it comes to laws. They don't realise that laws can differ from one state to another. This raises much confusion when reading the results of similar challenges to vote counting, for example, resulting in differing opinions. Yes, state 1, you can count mail-in ballots that arrive after election day as long as they are postmarked on or before election day. No, state 2, you cannot count mail-in ballots that arrive after election day even if they are postmarked on or before election day. 

7. It is puzzling that US voters accept jiggery-pokery when it comes to elections, no matter which side they are on. Surely, observers ask, people realise that if one side tries to limit the other side's votes or voter participation, it will happen to them when the tables are turned? Then where is democracy?

8. The Postal Service may not have the capacity to deliver all votes in time? Huh?

9. Some people have to stand in line for HOURS to vote? In the richest country in the world? Huh?

10. Nobody knows when the results of the election will be known? Huh? Remember 2000 and the hanging chads? Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is reputed to have offered to help the USA with subsequent elections. What happens - enquiring minds ask - if the results are not known before the electoral college convenes?

Overseas observers are not confused by one thing - the need to have free and fair elections everywhere.


  1. Ok, so, in other countries there is a place where we vote. In the village, it's the primary school. We walk in with our polling card, we get ticked off on the register, we go in a booth, make our mark, fold up the paper, put it in a box, and walk away. Polls open on one day for the entire country, from 6 am to 10 pm. It's not perfect but it's respectful, fair and more importantly, perfectly safe. But we still ended up with Boris! Postal votes are allowed but are rare. We have 543 consistuencies each returning the person with the highest number of votes. Even though they will have had more votes against them, than for them. But that's democracy!

  2. The world, including the US, is seriously confused. But with the exception of Russia and maybe a couple of other countries, no one is confused about who needs to win.

  3. And how ridiculous is it that haphazard court decisions can so easily change the way a state handles its ballots?

  4. If you think the world is confused, imagine what the Martians must think. Then again, what you so ably described, Stanley, perhaps might explain why they have avoided invading us at all costs.