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Too darned much democracy

[Rick] Chez Moen is in the middle of a polity (Estados Unidos de Norte America) that just had a minor election. Taxonomically, we're in:

[no city]
County of San Mateo <- a corporation established by the state
State of California <- smallest sovereign entity in this stack voting precinct #3402
BushCo Empire (or whatever it's called, these days)

...plus six miscellaneous special districts, each with its own tax authority.

[Breen] Thanks for the reference!

I worked this election the other day. I was at a precinct in Redwood City. The polls were open 13 hours and we had 79 voters.

[Rick] 28% turnout, according to the S.F. Chronicle, a record low for California. I was one of the few people I checked with who voted (though some had gotten stuck at work, and didn't make the polls in time).

And thank you for helping the election effort, by the way.

[Breen] The precinct numbers are assigned by the counties - according to the SecState http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/hava_introduction.htm there are about 25,000 precincts in the state.

[Rick] Incredible. I would never have thought that our little county, alone, would have over 4000.

[Breen] Dunno where the numbers come from, but the returns (in Wednesday's Chron) showed 519 of 519 precincts reporting.

We're apparently due to replace the current tabulating machines with something new next election. I don't know how fast those returns will come in.

[Breen] Note that although we have 5 supervisorial districts, everybody in the county votes in all races.

[Rick] Yes, I had to double-check that a few times, myself.

[Breen] I'd never come across that before moving to San Mateo county. According to http://uncorked.wachob.com/node/45 we're one of two California counties that does this.

[Rick] For a while, I've felt sheepish over not knowing all the governmental bodies I'm asked to vote on, what offices exist, what their terms of office and expirations are, etc. So, I decided to fix that, for my household with this reference page:


Prepended at the top of the page is a quick-reference list of emergency contact telephone numbers, of various sorts. Please ignore that. (That's the part that's printed out and taped to the wall of the kitchen. No, I don't expect people to fire up Firefox following a major earthquake.)

Having completed this labour, I'm struck by a couple of things:

  1. That's a very large number of people to vote on. Ye gods! The American mania for voting on everything yet lives.
  2. Notice the ethnic diversity among surnames: Chinese, Hispanics, Irishmen, Scandinavians, Slavs, Frenchmen, Scots, Assyrians, Armenians, Japanese, Englishmen, Italians, Germans (and one noted ex-Austrian), Welshmen, Jews.

I have no larger point, but, for those of you who live in distant parts of the world, my page might be of anthropological interest. ;->

[Breen] Most extreme example of this I've heard of was a friend in Chicago who had to vote up or down on some 200 judicial races in Cook County a couple of years ago.