A little disruption as Election Watch nears 5k hits

Over the week-end, I'm shifting my news feeds from Newsgator to Bloglines. I've found Newsgator to be on the slow side, and I didn't like the way some of its functions worked. Although I don't yet know about Bloglines' special features, it seems to run a lot faster, and anecdotally it seems to update faster too.

Meanwhile, the hit counter tells me that this blog is nearing the 5,000 hits mark (which isn't exactly going to get the Instapundit or Daily Kos quaking in their boots), but hey, I can't do postings during the daytime becuase I'm in an office that has the world's second oldest running Mac (the oldest is upstairs, being used by one of the city boys, I think he gets mine if I get the sack). I also haven't figure how to do subject sections on this blog. Also Brian Micklethwait is plotting to start a podcasting project and he wants me to do the "talking head" stuff on elections.

This weekend, I shall also be looking to improve the blogroll and I am aware that there are typos and broken links.

Finally, Sunday is weekly round-up day.

Update: Just made the 5,000! (23:16)


The candidate couldn't find 50 voters in his own district

Here's an outrageous example of the amateurish U.S. electoral system in action, from the State of Ohio. Don't expect the Bush haters to jump up and down, because this one involves a grotesque performance by a Democrat candidate's campaign. In fairness, I gather this sort of thing happens to Libertarian and Republican candidates too.

The story so far: Ohio State Senator Charlie Wilson (not quite the same as a local independent running for office the first time) sent people out to get signatures for his nomination to run for the 6th congressional district of Ohio.

I don't know if he paid people to do this (they do that in the U.S.A., which must seem very weird to any British political activist). If so, he didn't hire the best brains in the business because in one county, they actually gathered more than 70% of the signatures from the wrong district. For British reader, this is like sending people to Chelsea to sign a petition to be elected to Fulham. In fact, State Senator Wilson only needed 50 valid signatures in the Columbiana County, and of the 96 he submitted only 46 were valid. In Scioto County (which I happen to know is pronounced "Siyoda")only 7 out of 24 signatures were valid.

I'm sure it has happened in the U.K. to one of the major political parties, but not without either deliberate fraud (the election agent for a candidate forged the signatures, a practice I've come across a couple of times), or an unusual circumstance like someone died.

Here's a free tip on how to avoid this problem. 1) Buy a copy of the electoral register, costs about $20. 2) Find out from the election office how many signatures needed and from which districts (sometimes the rules insist that you need a few from each of the different areas in the district you're running for election in). Also get three copies of the nomination paper. 3) Gather some friends and supporters and spend a weekend going through the list to identify everyone known in the district, obviously including paid-up members. 4) Call on each of them door-to-door. Turn up with a list of eligible voters at the address and ask everyone there to sign up, there's no good reason why if there's a household with a couple, with a grown up kid or two if you can't get three signed up then. 5) Hand in the three completed nomination forms at the same time, getting a responsible person at the election authority's office to sign a receipt for them (prepare your own, in case they're not ready). If they refuse to give you a receipt, ask if you can be photographed handing the papers in (bet they'll initial your receipt then!). End of story!

Only hire teams of canvassers if they'll sign up for a penalty clause for failing to deliver (I'd say a liability of a couple of million dollars would be fair, and a good incentive for them to do the job right, heck I'd do it now if I was in the U.S.).

I have twice stood as an independent in local elections in the U.K. with no support and managed to get signatures by taking a map, a copy of the voters' register, several pens and the nomination paper. I find that as long as I explain that the voter is merely agreeing that I should be allowed to stand, as opposed to agreeing that they will vote for me, most people are happy to sign up for a non-loon.


Weekly round up Sunday 19 February

You want dirty politics? Try Harvard's board elections! These guys could teach the Borgias a thing or two.

John McCain should beat Hillary Clinton for the U.S. presidency in 2008... if he doesn't get destroyed by us bloggers who are mad at his inept and anti-free speech campaign reforms.... if the conservatives don't get him like in 2000... and if his health holds out. He's trying to fix the second problem right now.

Ghastly though! French sociologists find that a French conservative revolution is underway! Pauvre Monsieur Chirac.

New Democratic Republic Congo (recently called "Zaire") constitution approved.

Israeli acting-prime minister calls the Palestinian Authority "de facto terrorists." I call it electioneering.

OK. Now I believe Rick Santorum has a chance of re-election in Pennsylvania (U.S. Senate, this coming November).

Four presidential candidates for Belarus next month.

This could be a campaign not only against free speech, which last time I looked was guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It also is an attempt to interfere in the democratic process, seeing as gambling sites are essential tools for predicting the outcome of elections (I guess the soon-to-be-losers want to keep the spread betters from showing them up). Oh, and it violates the World Trade Organization's rules. China in U.S.A. out?

Silvio Berlusconi hopes to turn the Italian general election into a plebiscite for or against him (according to Le Monde, so they could be wrong).

Failed coup d'état attempt in the Philippines. Of course with presidents winning elections with sometimes less than a quarter of the vote, never mind the electorate, it's actually quite healthy that they don't have more of them.

Endless speculation (ok it just feels that way) about the 2008 U.S. presidential elections. Here and here.

Tokelau says "No" to independence. With only 1,500 people, I imagine that simple things like the cost of having an embassy in New Zealand would have been difficult to manage. Initial report here.

French talk of "primaries" for the 2007 presidential election in France.

Britain's Conservative Party (having sent people to help out John Kerry at the last U.S. presidential election, and having been refused access to George W. Bush last time their leader visited the U.S.A.) wants to mend the rift. Copying social-democratic policies shouldn't work, should it?

Democratic murmurs in Lebanon resume. More here.

Shenanigans in Palestine. First Fatah cancels an election (five years ago). Then they hold an election without even posting the fact on their own government website. Now they change the constitution with outgoing members of the assembly, because they lost. No wonder Hamas looks good!
Meanwhile, jostling to make friends with a former pariah. I wonder what the Hamas definition of a "pragmatist" is?

Nepal's Maoist prove that however nasty my write-up of them last week, they can always make themselves appear more intolerant and wicked. Nepal's king, meanwhile seems determined to play the conciliatory Louis XVI role to the letter. I would not want to be a royal bodyguard!
Royal despotism: political activists killed. Maoist rule: half the population killed or starve. Looks like self-defence to me.

Earth to planet moonbat.

Kadima remains ahead in Israel's election race, despite Ariel Sharon's coma. I can only say this does not bode well for Israel's future.

Cape Verde held elections last week for their president. Report here. Incomplete returns here. Further report here.

Ibrahim Jaafari to stay as Iraq's Prime Minister.

The New York writes: "Why we're rubbish! We can't even link to a roll-call for the Samuel Alito confirmation votes in the Senate." No comment!

In Haiti, it looks as if foreign governments have decided that the second round vote is unnecessary, an extraordinary intervention without precedent.
Coverage here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

In Japan, the rules of succession for the Emperor restricting eligibility to males is being maintained (for now) as the government says it will wait and see what the latest imperial family pregnancy produces.