Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Major Differences

The next time you hear someone say, “More people voted for the American Idol than voted in the last presidential election”, think about the voting procedures and requirements for each action. Can that statement have any validity?

To vote for president you must be old enough to register to vote. You must register to vote. You must either get dressed and go to your voting place or you must apply in advance for an absentee ballot. When you receive the absentee ballot you must fill it out and put it in the mailbox. You can only cast one vote per presidential election.

To vote for American Idol, you must pick up your phone and punch in the telephone number. You may remain in your bed. You may call as many times as you like. The only age requirement is that you must be old enough to know how to operate a telephone.

For these reasons and more, I don’t believe you can compare the number of people who voted in the two “elections” or draw any sort of persuasive conclusion. I believe the methods and requirements for participants in each case are too vastly different to give the statement any validity at all.

37 Comments:

Blogger The Beltway B@stard said...

As always PoP - a good morning dose of common sense. I'll have what she's drinking.

August 01, 2006 4:58 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Pop, Excellent analysis.

The only thing to be added is that to vote in an election, you have to be able to read (or have read to you) well enough to recognize your candidate in some fashion. It is to be hoped that you will have some idea as to the candidates party if not their positions.

August 01, 2006 4:59 AM  
Blogger Sothis said...

I agree--to some extent. Idol has a teenybopper demographic that isn't even old enough to vote. But it shows the problem with voting in America. People want voting to be absolutely painless. Unfortunately, it takes time to register to vote, research the candidates, watch debates, and go to vote. As you noted in your previous post, the news spent more time on Gibson's DUI that the crisis in the MidEast. People want to be instantly entertained nowadays--voting takes time, effort, and thought--something most Americans aren't willing to do in the current Veruca Salt "don't care how/I want it now" mentality. That scares me.

August 01, 2006 6:06 AM  
Anonymous Knox Rover said...

Good point, PoP.

August 01, 2006 6:14 AM  
Blogger Walt said...

I have heard that, in Australia, you don't have the option of not voting. If you don't vote, you pay a fine.

I used to wonder why that hasn't been proposed for this country, but then I remind myself that low voter turnout helps incumbency. And, as we all know, the primary focus of our elected assclowns is to stay in office.

August 01, 2006 6:17 AM  
Anonymous sister faith said...

Great analysis.

Having never watched American Idol.....I've never voted in that particular race................

August 01, 2006 6:35 AM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

Correctamundo! I,too would like to see some sort of mandatory voting set-up for the U.S.

August 01, 2006 6:39 AM  
Blogger DivaJood said...

Mandatory voting and Diebolt - a match made in hell. We do need serious voting reforms, that's for sure.

August 01, 2006 6:51 AM  
Blogger dusty said...

I have never heard that remark before. People equate Ai with elections? maroons all!

August 01, 2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger bluegrrrrl said...

This does put things in perspective.

I did see a poll (can't remember where) that said more voting age people in a certain demographic (young, no doubt) thought it was more important to vote for American Idol than to vote for Pres. Scary but not surprising.

August 01, 2006 6:55 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

Pop,
Which one of those do you think got a better outcome? (I know how fond of Dumya you are,but I don't know what you think of Taylor Hicks). I think I'd suggest that we go to an "Idol" format for preznit elections.

August 01, 2006 7:23 AM  
Blogger L>T said...

very good spotting of a bullshit argument.
humbug
these guys are very helpfull to me in spotting bullshit arguments.

August 01, 2006 8:11 AM  
Blogger Doctor Rick said...

Very vlid statement. It's simple truth, more voted for IDOL!

Moreso, I picked this topic months ago it because liberals were upset about Bush winning.

August 01, 2006 8:52 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

It is a simple fact. It speaks volumes about the level of responsibility of the society.

Mandatory voting? Do you really want all the people who vote on "Idol" to pick a president? They can text message just fine, but I have doubts about their ability to handle a punch card.....I personally think that less people should vote, not more.

August 01, 2006 9:22 AM  
Blogger Chris Casey said...

I stole a phrase from one of your entries for my blog, you might want to read about what is probably coming to a neighborhood near you

August 01, 2006 10:03 AM  
Blogger Darius said...

Plus the American Idol contestants are a lot better.

August 01, 2006 11:24 AM  
Blogger windspike said...

Well, to stretch it a bit, I think we have to look at mechanisms that actual work in terms of restricted or rules guided elections. If you vote in proxy elections for companies as share holders, you know that you can do this on line and you only vote your shares. So, if you give all eligible voters one share in America, and sign them up for Proxyvote dot com or some other such service, it would be considerably easier to vote...from your desk top. Real voting reform is necessary...let's start with making national elections a holiday. Get the day off to cast your vote? Sounds more American than anything else I have heard in a long while.

Blog on PoP, blog on all.

August 01, 2006 11:24 AM  
Blogger Time said...

There are a lot of people who complain constantly, but can't seem to take a few minutes once every two or four years to vote.

August 01, 2006 12:49 PM  
Blogger Criss said...

Maybe if the candidates weren't so much alike...totally SUCKY!

August 01, 2006 2:57 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

American Idol actually produces some good candidates--talented yet everyday folk like us. So we care more about them than the professional politicians.

August 01, 2006 3:47 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Great analysis. I heard the comparison made many times but never really thought about further than that, except to lament the fact that people pay more attention to wannabe rock stars than wannabe politicians.

I'd like to see our country develop an easier way for all people to vote. Keep the polls open for several days with longer hours, expand absentee voting and make it available for parents who struggle to find time to vote with all their responsibilities, etc., and most importantly insist on a paper trail.

August 01, 2006 3:52 PM  
Blogger Keir said...

Hi, nice blog. I never saw that tv show, but I would guess that its viewers/voters feel there is a substantial difference between potential winners. The low voter turnout in the States is due in part to people not feeling like the outcome will effect their lives.

Mandatory voting is a bad idea. My theory is that all public office should be turned into mandatory, minimum wage, one-year terms, with people chosen more or less at random. Then we'll see some checks and balances, and some serious civic engagement.

August 01, 2006 4:02 PM  
Anonymous karena said...

Well said and in much need of addressing. Sure, we have a serious lack of voter apathy, but this kind of lame comparison only buries the issue and is thinly veiled in just claiming people are "lazy." Thanks for saying this.

August 01, 2006 4:57 PM  
Anonymous karena said...

Hey, One more thing. Other countries make voting day a mandatory holiday. Some folks cannot take time off to vote or if they go after work they stand in endless lines while the kids need attention and dinner needs cooking. Just make voting days a mandatory holiday so people take elections more seriously and find them more accessible. I bet even Hallmark could find an appropriate card to print up and make a few bucks.

In Mexico, you cannot sell liquor in stores or bars on voting day. The Mexicans are taking the voting dispute to the streets and demanding answers. We here in this country just yawn about "rumors" of rigged elections. I'm not advocating banning liquor on election day, but I am advocating raising the level of how our leaders portray the civic duty of voting beyond the $500 a plate fundraising dinners with the rubber chicken and the rich people blather.

August 01, 2006 5:05 PM  
Blogger JBlue said...

Yeah, it's a silly comparison. I'm glad you took the time to point it out and support it with logic. More peops should be reading you, I'm thinking.

August 01, 2006 5:13 PM  
Blogger Reflections said...

Hopefully the presidential election is more serious. I have never heard that expression before and hope I don't again. I usually respond like this when I hear something like that: That must be your a--hole talking your mouth knows better.Now thats not directed to you pops, but people who say things like that.

August 01, 2006 5:17 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

It's too bad some people need more motivation to particpate in a democracy.

August 01, 2006 6:25 PM  
Blogger Doctor Rick said...

If they gave away potato pancakes the lines would be out the door

August 01, 2006 7:09 PM  
Blogger Merci said...

I like the idea of closing down everything but the polls on major election days. We don't seem to respect anything enough to shut down commerce and entertainment anymore.

August 01, 2006 9:03 PM  
Blogger Turtle Guy said...

You made me laugh... I needed that! Thanks so much... and a much better day today, for sure.

August 01, 2006 9:28 PM  
Blogger Chancelucky said...

In Australia, it's a crime not to vote. Other countries also close all bars on election day.

if we did turn our regular elections into American Idol type events, the Wednesday night after the first Tuesday in November would be kind of fun. I could see Al Gore in 2000 being told to go sit down then getting told to stand up again, etc.

ONe other difference is that Idol never tells you what the final tally was, though that's increasingly true in places like Florida and Ohio.

August 01, 2006 9:54 PM  
Blogger sumo said...

Right on.

August 02, 2006 3:12 AM  
Blogger An Angry Old Broad said...

It is a lousy comparison,but only to a point.

More people know who won Idol than know who their elected officials are.They know more about those kids than they do the people who hold offices that decide much of their lives.I go back to my previous thoughts on this,the whole country needs a giant Civics 101 class.

I'd like to see a nationally uniform voting process where everyone has the same rules,proceedures and guidelines,ballots,etc no matter what part of the country they're in.Election Day should be a national holiday,maybe a Friday,and extend the elections into a long weekend.There should also be a set standard on how many voting machines per person are needed nationally.And no more Diebold,ESS or any other electronic/no paper trail machines.We did fine without them,and it's WAY too easy to cheat using them.

August 02, 2006 5:07 AM  
Blogger The Pagan Temple said...

I've never voted on American Idol, so I don'tknow, butisn't there a charge. That's not a toll free number, is it? I seriously doubt that Americans would pay to vote. No that I think they should, mind you, far from it. But it does tend to show the level of banality of the Ameican public, not only that they would while away valuable hours on these minimally talented bums, but actually spend good money to vote for them, and in a lot of cases multiple times at that.

August 02, 2006 6:18 AM  
Blogger DBK said...

You can vote for free via text messaging, I believe, and you can do that kind of voting via an automated system. I happen to believe that the AI voting is kind of rigged because, if I were a contestant, you can bet I would have a bunch of automated calling systems set up to give me some advantage.

And AOB, the reason more people know the AI contestants than their elected officials is that the AI contestants are on network TV every week for months and they don't talk about anything serious. The comparison, as far as why the voting for AI is so much higher, is perfectly reasonable.

You cannot force people to care about government. You can force them to vote, but you can't force them to care or pay attention and that's just the way it is. They force kids to go to school all over the country every day and then a lot of people blame the teachers for not being entertaining enough to grab the kids' interest, but the truth is that the thing the teachers, boring as they may be, are offering those kids is education and the means to improve their lives. Yet with all that, many children don't care. Same with adults and government. You can't make people care. If turnout is low, it is at least logical to assuem that the people who vote are the people who care and, therefore, are to some extent better-informed.

I think the real thing is to have better standards from the media, so that people are, in fact, better-informed when they go to vote. I am not so sure that higher turnout is as important as that.

August 02, 2006 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DBK, you're right, in a sense. What good does it do to have a huge turnout when most people that vote don't make itelligent, informed decisions, but vote according strictly to party or ideology. A whole lot of others vote strictly on their feelings as to the personality of the person. You know, the old "I voted for Bush becasue I'd rather have a beer with him than with Gore/Kerry.

August 02, 2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger Karen McL said...

What I dislike is the moderate (silent American) folks that *think* their vote won't matter and DON't get the butts out the door at all - leaving us to the mercies of the congentially insane Right-winger and The Party of Destruction.

August 02, 2006 4:39 PM  

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