I voted -- 11/07/06

I voted this morning on my way to work.

Yes, I actually went to the office today -- they were giving flu shots and I also needed to print about 1500 pages of stuff -- so I stopped by my polling place and voted (and got my little "I Voted" sticker (shown larger than actual size) and then went to the office and worked and said hello to a bunch of people (because the flu shots brought in lots of other people who also mostly work at home) and some of the moms brought in the newer babies (much ooooing and ahhhhing) but then I had to dash back home early in the afternoon because I had a two o'clock phone meeting and I realized that I had grabbed the wrong file folder and some notes I needed for the meeting were at home -- highway department work had just one westbound lane open on both bridges -- so I got finally got home and booted up my laptop just in time for the meeting.

But I digress... back to the voting... We use paper ballots that you feed to a scanner (and the ballots are retained in a locked compartment in the scanner to provide a paper trail & in case a recount is needed). It was a lengthy process because there were so many offices up for grabs plus a lot of questions, both local and statewide -- the state offices and issues filled both sides of a large sheet of paper (larger than legal size, must have been 9 or 10 inches by 16 or 18 inches) plus another sheet of paper for the town offices and issues.

I split my vote. I've always split my vote. No single political party ever runs the best candidates for every single office. Our ballots have a field that can be selected to cast a straight party line vote for every single office, thus saving the lazier and more feeble-minded voters from having to actually make a mark by each candidate. Yes, this is moronic, but it is through herding such mindless sheep to the polling places that the state Democratic machine is able to keep control (despite an endless series of embarrassing scandals that keep forcing leading lawmakers to leave office one step ahead of indictment on various corruption charges).

Governor: I voted to re-elect the Republican governor. He's done a reasonable job. (Yes, we frequently have Republican governors even though the state legislature is consistently about 80% Democrat -- that's because in Rhode Island, the governor has relatively little actual power -- the legislature controls almost everything.) For Lieutenant Governor I voted (again) for Bob Healey, the Cool Moose party candidate.

Senator: I don't agree with Linc Chafee on many of his positions, but he is a thoughtful and independent character who votes his conscience and not a party line, so I voted for him rather than the Democrat challenger who I saw as being just another hack politician from the aforementioned state Democratic machine. (During his years as attorney general he some how failed to find any trace of corruption despite clues that have since erupted into major scandals with multiple criminal indictments.)

Congress: I voted for Langevan, the Democratic incumbent. He's not terrible and, as is too often the case in R.I., there wasn't even a Republican candidate in the race. The only challenger was Rod Driver, a perpetual gadlfy for whom I could never bring myself to vote because of his pro-Palestinian bias and his mean-spirited anti-Israeli bigotry. (Actually I did vote for him once, back when we had first moved to Rhode Island and only knew about his criticism of state government and was not yet aware of the filth he spews about the Middle East.)

Attorney General: for the Republican challenger (although he hasn't much chance). The incumbent managed to screw up the prosecution of the owners of the Station nightclub (the one where one hundred people died in a fire). I don't know if it was just incompetence or if he was also in the bag with the judge who pushed through a plea bargain that essentially stopped the trial before any evidence could be presented that might have cast some light on the cover-up of the state and city officials who winked at blatant violations of state fire codes. Ya know, judges are always yelling about contempt of court -- how could anyone feel anything except contempt for political hack judges who would engineer such miscarriages of justice? The judge claimed he was acting to save the families of the victims from the stress of hearing testimony... meanwhile, those families were screaming in outrage at the cover-up but the fix was in and the state Democratic machine wins again.

I voted for the incumbent Democratic candidate for State Senator -- but for the Republican challenger for State Representative. The incumbent had voted to remove the governor's power to put non-binding referenda questions on the ballot. When questioned about this he said that there was no need to allow voters to express their opinions that way and that if people didn't like the way he voted, they could just express their opinion by voting him out of office. So I voted against him.

The big statewide question was a constitutional amendment to allow Harrahs, Inc. to build a casino in the Town of West Warwick on behalf of the Narragansett Indian Tribal Nation. This kind of thing comes up every couple of years. The pro-casino forces only have to win once, so they keep coming back again and again. Yes, as you may guess, I voted to reject this idea.

There was also a question about restoring the voting rights of convicted felons as soon as they finish the prison part of their sentence (rather than waiting until they had served their entire sentence, including any period of parole or probation). Naturally the state Democratic machine was all over this one, funding lots of vote yes advertising (although a mere pittance compared to the millions upon millions being spent to promote the casino). You are quite right, I voted to reject this proposal. (Yes, many members of our legislature are either criminal defense lawyers or collect large bribes contributions from criminal defense lawyers. Just a coincidence, I'm sure.)

Then there were a number of money questions -- various bond issues -- I voted in favor of some and rejected others.

On the local ballot we had questions about changing the way we handle the town budget. The proposal would eliminate the annual financial town meeting (open to all voters) where debate can go on for hours and replace it with the town council holding public discussion sessions followed by a special election day to approve or reject the budget. I voted to keep the town meeting but I think the change has a good chance of passing. There were also some local money questions about issuing bonds to finance various projects (the town can't borrow money -- that is, issue bonds -- without specific voter approval). I voted to approve all of these.

Post script -- well, the governor barely squeaked by and Senator Chafee lost (along with most other Republicans) -- television news said there was a high volume of people selecting straight party votes. Ah well, Rhode Island voters aren't total morons: the casino was voted down overwhelmingly (despite Harrah's spending more than ten million dollars in advertising -- plus who knows how much in bribes consulting fees -- in a state with a population of just about one million).

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