a vote for… what?

For a Canadian, i did something politicaly interesting and important today. i voted in the American general election. i filled out my absentee ballot card and sent it off to be counted in the election of November 2nd. By dint of my American birth, and one American parent, i am a Canadian who happens to hold a US passport, SSN, and the right to help affect changes for all Canadians by voting in the USA. (more…)

In Canada, i have voted with my conscience for arternative parties for years, typicaly for the Green Party. i don’t do this because i think they have a chance in hell of winning, but because of the simple fact that the mainstream parties are having to pay attention to the ever-growing portion of the popular vote that goes towards alternative parties. In some Canadian elections of recent years, the percentage of the popular vote going to all alternative parties combined has been nearly equal to the percentage difference between the top two mainstream parties. In some way, i hope this shift will force the mainstream parties to widen their definition of “mainstream”.
For you American readers, a brief explanation: The Canadian Prime Minister (roughly equivalent to the Pres.) is not voted into that office. In a Cdn general election, citizens vote for local federal representatives (MP’s, equivalent to members of Congress). The ridings in which the MP’s run for office are roughly apportioned by population, and the MP’s are usually, but not always, members of some political party. Sometime previous to any federal election, members of political parties (MP’s and citizens alike) gather in convention to elect a party leader. In the actual federal general election, the party which has elected the most MP’s forms the government, and the leader of that party (an MP themselves) becomes the Prime Minister.
Unlike the USA, the Prime Minister’s powers are less executive, and depend more upon the voting power of the MP’s. The really interesting development that this can lead to is actually happening right now; the party with the most elected MP’s has more than any other single party, but less than 50% of the total amount of MP’s! Furthermore, in this last election, a single independant MP was elected, becoming, in essence, the swing vote upon which the whole works swings. That one independant vote in Paliament can seriously impede the Prime Minister’s usual ability to push through bills and ammendments by brute majority vote. This year’s Canadian federal election was an example where one non-partisan person has come to have a huge say in how the government runs.
Well, the above tactic of voting for the percentage may not work for this, my first US voting experiment. In preparation for my American voting, i did a lot of research. In state issues, i have clung more tightly to my conscience, selecting Libertarian and Green candidates where i feel they deserve support. In the federal arena, however, i felt that i had to modify my tactics. There are some decent alternative presidential candidates out there, with compelling arguements. In many ways, i’d rather see Nader in the White House than either Kerry or Bush. Still, the blunt fact is that Bush must go; i hate to feel as though i’m voting against a candidate rather than for one, but there it is. If the anti-Bush vote is divided, Bush will win, and such are the executive powers of the President, even given a Democrat majority in Congress or Senate, bad things will continue to happen to the world. Since all the Presidency requires is a bare majority, every vote against Bush must go towards Kerry, even if he’s simply the lesser of two evils.
Now, i’m still trying to understand the whole Electoral Vote thing, and am still not sure if my presidential vote goes towards the candidate or an electoral voter, or somewhere else. Can anyone explain that one to me?


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