Space Politics and Halloween Masks: Strange side of US Election
You don’t have to wait until the wee hours of the morning post-Election Day to get the first definitive election results: Two tiny New Hampshire villages, Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, have longstanding traditions of casting the first official Election Day ballots. In these two towns, citizens are allowed to vote just after midnight on Election Day. It was generally believed that the 2012 race was going to be close, and confirming this notion was the first-ever tie in the history of this early voting tradition – of the 10 ballots cast in Dixville Notch, Obama and Romney took 5 each.Pundits use all sorts of bellwether measure to figure out which direction the country will lean. As the long and exhausting presidential race has fought on, voters have been reminded countless times of the battleground state cry: “So goes Ohio, so goes the rest of the nation.” But all you really have to do to find out the winner is to look to Terre Haute, Indiana, and the population of Vigo County – the electorate there has been amazingly accurate in predicting the national winner since the late 1800s.Of course, if you believe the media frenzy there are many other reliable predictors of the presidential race, ranging from the victor in pre-Election Day football matches to which of the candidates’ faces sells more Halloween masks. There is even a coffee poll conducted by the 7-11 convenience store chain, which counts the number of cups of coffee sold bearing each candidate’s name. In case you are interested in the 2012 results – more Obama masks were sold (69% to 31% for Romney), more Obama coffee cups were counted (59% to 41% for Romney), and Obama pulled out a victory in Indiana’s Vigo County as well.And no Election Day would be complete without a strange series of anomalies and irregularities that each party can point to in court after voting is over. For example, who could forget the 2000 election recount debacle in Florida with its new vocabulary terms like ‘hanging chads?’ 2012 is already proving to be contentious in this realm, with lawsuits filed in Ohio and in Florida. In both states, these suits have to do with access to voting, with the Democratic Party arguing for to expand voting hours. As for actual voting irregularities, there’s already a doozy in that category as well! A voting machine in Pennsylvania had to be taken out of service after it was shown to repeatedly read votes cast for Obama as votes for Romney.And what about Americans in space, how do they vote? There is actually a system in place that allows out-of-this-world American voters to cast their ballots: Following the passage of a bill in 1997, NASA astronauts can have a digital ballot securely beamed to them by mission control. After they have voted, mission control then uses a secure server to relay their ballots to the appropriate district. It is interesting to note that during the 2012 election, there were 2 Americans on board the International Space Station, but they reportedly cast their ballots before launching into orbit.When Election Day is finally over and all of the commentators and spin doctors have had their say, it would be nice to think that the 2012 race is over. Unfortunately, that likely won’t be the case – the notorious Electoral College system is in play, after all.The people of the United States will have had their say, this is true, but they are only electing representatives who will then vote for the president, which doesn’t take place until December. Just because an Electoral College representative is chosen doesn’t mean they will choose the same candidate as the American people. There is a name for folks who go against their initial pledge: ‘Faithless Electors.’ There have only 158 of these in US history. The chances of this happening are infinitesimally small, and even smaller that a faithless elector will have an effect on the overall outcome of the race, but it is yet another complicated quirk, or surprise, for voters to look forward to.
Sean Thomas, RT