The New York Times had this article about the potential for a runoff in the NYC Democratic primary for mayor. A runoff election is expensive, and generally has an even lower turnout than the first election.

I’ve been intrigued with the notion of Intstant Runoff Voting for a couple years. Essentially, you pick your first choice, second choice, etc. The candidate with the lowest total is dropped and his/her votes are spread among the remaining candidates, based on those voters’ selection of the second-most desirable candidate.

This system, which I’ve been told has operated in Australia for decades, would allow people to vote for so-called “fringe” candidates, if that’s where their hearts were, but have a second-choice that might have a chance to win.

A simple example (and I’m going to ignore other candidate for this): Let’s say there was an election among three candidates. Let’s call them Bush, Gore and Nader, just for the heck of it. Let’s say I really like Nader. I can actually vote for Nader! Then my second choice is…lessee, I’ll pick Gore.

At the end of the day, Bush has 40%, Gore has 40%, and Nader has 20%. Nader is eliminated, but his votes are redistributed, based on the second-choice preferences of Nader voters. Let’s say that 75% of Nader voters picked Bush as their second choice, and 25% picked Gore. Then Bush would get 40% +(75% of 20% or 15%)=55% Bush wins, as more people found him acceptable. (It’s JUST an example.)

I urge you to to read more about IRV, especially those of you (Greg, Gordon) who are planning to run for office someday. It’s taking hold all over the country.

Meanwhile, the final report of the Federal Commission on Election Reform is now available. Among other things, it suggests that electronic voting machines should leave a paper trail of ballots cast, a vital issue in my mind in Diebold-land. It also suggests that the government should provide free photo IDs to nondrivers as part of the requirement of having identification becoming a voting requirement. News organizations should “voluntarily refrain from projecting any Presidential election results” in any state until all polls have closed in 48 states, with Alaska and Hawaii excluded. All “legitimate domestic and international election observers” should be granted unrestricted access to the election process, within the rules of the election. I recall that Jimmy Carter, whose Center participated in this process, once noted that the U.S. was in a poor position to go abroad and sanction other countries’ elections, given the irregular methodology of our own.

It’s hardly a perfect document, but it’s a start.

As lazy as Gordon

My new blogiverse buddy Gordon allowed his readers to ask questions that he promised to answer. In fact, he did it at least twice. And even answered the questions; this is the second batch of replies.

I thought this was such a swell idea that I thought I’d do the same thing. Send me as many questions as you want. I promise to answer each and every one! (Of course, the answer might be, “No comment.”) And if I’m as lucky as Gordon, you’ll ask a question SO provocative that it will require its own post.

Deadline, Wednesday, October 5 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Answers promised within a week.

I’ll probably do this with every change of the season, if it’s successful. (And never again, if it’s not.)

I Note Dead People

This was going to be part of a post of a couple days ago, but I ran out of time. This has nothing to do with with the music of Grateful Dead, a recent review of which you can find here on September 27:

I still have to note the passing of Robert Wise, even though he died back on September 14, because he was the director and producer of one of my favorite films (with one of my favorite soundtracks), West Side Story, and one of my wife’s, The Sound of Music. Interestingly, one of the bloggers I read who noted his passing HATED both of those movies, yet spoke admiringly of the prolific Wise, because he was the editor for Citizen Kane and another important movie (I THINK it was The Magnificent Ambersons.)

Sid Luft also died on the 14th. He’s best known as Judy Garland’s third husband, but he actually had a career before meeting Ms. Gumm.

I wasn’t always enamored with Simon Wiesenthal, but he did shed light on the Holocaust and attempted to upend those Holocaust deniers who irritate me so. He died on the 20th.

I hope I’m an ornery someday as former NOW President Molly Yard who died on the 21st..

As I first read on the Dead or Alive website, author M. Scott Peck, best known for the book, “The Road Less Traveled”, died on the 25th. Everyone I knew at the height of the book’s popularity had a copy on their shelves. Whether anyone actually READ it, I don’t know. I’m sure I STARTED to read it…

I was going to write that Tom DeLay’s career is dead, but I realized that that was only wishful thinking. So far.

School Daze

This being the first month of the new school year got me thinking about when I first went to school, in kindergarten. Binghamton in those days had a very unusual system whereby school started not only in September but in February as well. I’ve never met anyone outside of the Binghamton area who is familiar with this system.
In September, kids born in April through November started in the “B” section. Then in February, they would pass into the “A” section.
Those born in December through March would have our “B” section in February, and outr “A” section in September. So, when I started that February of 1958, (my birthday’s in March,) I was in Kindergarten B, then in September in Kindergarten A, then 1B, 1A, 2B, 2A, and so on.
My kindergarten teacher was Miss Cady for the whole year. But the summer after 1B, that teacher left, so I had a different teacher in 1A. Likewise in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade. I know my 4B teacher had gotten pregnant, because she “showed”, but one really didn’t talk about such things in those days. It wasn’t until fifth grade that I had a teacher for a whole year again. Conversely, my sister Leslie, who started in one September had the same teachers all year for every grade, except 6th and that only because her teacher died during the year.
Of course, we’re all impacted bt the seemingly random people we come in contact with. My sisters and I were supposed to attend Oak Street Elementary School. However, my mother “worked outside the home”, as we now put it, at McLean’s department store downtown. Where would we go at lunchtime? There was no school lunch, no cafeteria, nor anyone to watch us there. My grandmother Gert Williams and great-aunt Deana Yates lived about six blocks away from us, so it was determined that we would go to Daniel S. Dickinson School instead, and go to Gram’s for lunch (and also after school when we were younger).
Dickinson wasn’t any further from our house than Oak Street School (this was a walking district at the time-no school buses), so this turned out to be a workable solution.
Since I started in February, our classes, chosen from a smaller pool, had fewer students. And while some people came and went, or FAILED, there was a core group that I knew straight on through. In sixth grade, there were nine of us (out of 16) who started kindergarten together: Bill, Carol, David (born in December), Lois, Irene, and Bernie (born in February), Karen and me (March), and Diane, born in April, but whose parents finagled her way to our class. Eight of us (except David, who stayed an extra semester to play basketball) all graduated from high school together. Considering that I haven’t seen dsome of those people since high school, and others since 1981, I’m amazed how engrained that information is. I’m in some contact with a couple of them, but none more so than my friend Karen, who I spoke with last month. We have a 47-year old friendship.

There are lots of stories that I think I’ll tell over the next several months, being the only black kid in my class for 8 of 10 years there, the neighborhood, other stuff.

I’ll close with the school song (from failing memory):

Hail, Daniel Dickinson
Pride of our fair Binghamton
May we ‘ere our praises sing
With loyal hearts and true
May all our words and deeds
‘ere uphold thy glory
Guide us our whole lives through
Hail, Daniel Dickinson.

KS 2

The Rolling Stones came to town. They were, by all accounts, very good. the story appeared on the front page of a couple of our local newspapers. Some people complain that it was not worthy, with all of the “serious” issues out there. As Prince once said, “Shut up already!
WEEKEND JOURNAL; Collecting: Bang! Pow! Cash!; As Comic Prices Soar, Disputes Flare; Avoiding the Purple Label of Death
Conor Dougherty. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Sep 23, 2005. pg. W.1

This story is better than the title. Anyone wanting a copy e-mailed to them, please let me know.
M.Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, died, according to one source. Can someone verify?

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