Sunday, August 20, 2006

Undemocratic Democrats

It is quite well known that American election system has quite few drawbacks. America gets a President who may have less number of popular votes than the defeated candidate. The proof requirements of voter eligibility are not uniform across the states. Absentee ballot rules are different in different states. More important, actual ballots and vote counting procedures are different and not uniform. Some states use electronic voting with printed receipts whereas other still continue with punch cards. All in all it is a disgrace system, far inferior to many other nations.

It is expected that Democrats would fight for making American election process transparent, precise and uniform. There have been some movement in this regard and Sen. Kerry with other Democrats did put this issue on their agenda. But still it is a long, long way to go. While the work has barely started in this regard, Democrats are engaged in divisive and counter productive debate as far as how their primary calendar goes and how the presidential selection process would work for 2008. It is expected that Democrats set the example for the national election by way of adopting a smooth primary election process. Looks like that is not happening.

The changes proposed by DNC are over due – bringing Nevada between Iowa caucuses New Hampshire and South Carolina primary following New Hampshire. The idea is Democratic primary process is not hostage to two small states with much less demographic representation of voters.

The sad part is DNC has to propose punitive measures for candidates who campaign in states who do not want to adhere to this new calendar. New Hampshire is the recalcitrant state here and potential candidates like Sen. Kerry, Sen. Bayh and Edwards want to play dirty. It is a shameless act that New Hampshire wants to take the democratic process hostage and wants to carry the impression that they are the only ones who are vanguard of political debate in American elections. It is as if voters in states like California do not matter even if they contribute lot to American political process, both in terms money and time. Just because some state joined Union earlier does not mean it should make the entire democratic process beholden to it. It is amazing to read the kind of arrogance carried by state officials of these two states – New Hampshire and Iowa. It is the same kind of attitude where people want to perpetuate historical advantages at the cost of others. What is sad is potential progressive candidates like Sen. Kerry, Edwards and Sen. Bayh should be party to such undemocratic and oppressive procedures. It is better DNC and the Democrats Party get out of such unrepresentative process as early as possible.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
August 20, 2006.

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