Wednesday, 08 November 2017 04:55

Talk of the Towns for Nov. 8, 2017

Written by  Staff

A vote for change
In the muddy and bloody remnants of another local election cycle, Talkers are eager to find ways to improve the process. And some campaign and voting practices in other countries provide a pretty nice preview of tweaks worth considering.

In Germany, parties are given limited but equal air time on public television stations to present their platform. Usually, each side prepares one 90-second commercial highlighting their attributes, leaving little time for negative ads. How much would that improve the television watching experience around here in the days, weeks and months before an election?

And while some folks here are tormented about poor turnout, Australia has adopted the extreme measure of not only encouraging people to vote, but leveling a small fine if they don’t. It’s not a major penalty, but folks get the message. Since the practice began there, voter participation has never dropped below 90 percent.

Of course to make that work, you also need folks to register. So say hello to Sweden, where the government automatically registers eligible voters based on national population data.

Spending limits are, of course, another way to control the wave of irritating hyperbole and half-truths that saturate the campaign season, but that’s been tried in many different and equally unsuccessful ways. But one possible path to reduce at least some of the billions spent on elections is to reduce the time between the selection of candidates and election day. In Canada, the longest election cycle in history was less than three months.

But still, the most sensible change Talkers can imagine is a Constitutional adjustment to establish a different voting schedule.

Many countries — ones many Americans might consider second-rate or even third-world — hold elections over a weekend. It just makes sense. Instead of a variable mix of early voting opportunities and one hectic day (like Tuesday) that can be seriously impacted by weather, why not give voters a three-day window to cast their votes?

Ho, Ho, Ho? No!
It was the morning of Nov. 1, when the dew still clung to driveway web decorations and the glare of orange lights still shined at the houses of folks who forgot to turn off their Halloween displays before bed. Candy wrappers were still scattered on the kitchen table, but not for long.

In a gust of cold wind, a man in a red suit strapped everything down with garland, stacked $10 razor gift sets with bows on them at drug stores and erected 30-foot Christmas trees at the entrance of every retail establishment known to man.

Everything suddenly smelled like cinnamon and the fear of seeing your in-laws without enough eggnog. Talkers went to find 50 percent off Halloween candy and instead, there were displays of Santa’s reindeer, red and green candles and icicle Christmas lights where the pumpkins were the day before. Tom the Thanksgiving turkey didn’t even get a cardboard cutout this year.

Santa kicked it down and replaced it with a display of holiday fidget spinners. Talkers observed small elves methodically lowering store thermostats and setting store playlists to Christmas carol channels to try and manipulate people into the holiday spirit far too early.

Everyone knows the real holiday spirit starts at 2:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving when your family finishes off the sweet potato pie and heads to Best Buy to wait in line for six hours.

Isn’t anything sacred anymore?

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