The Phileas Club 103 – Governments Well Run


On this episode we talk about:

  • The presidential election in Finland
  • Growing up republican / The government shutdown in the US
  • Fast changes in Saudi (taxes, gas prices and more) / Camel festival

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  1. Hello, I’m fascinated by all the different ‘obvious’ ways to do voting.
    In Australia, voting is compulsory, as you know. We vote on Saturdays for most elections, but postal voting is always an option, and some elections (eg local council) are completely postal vote.
    And we don’t have to show photo ID. We say our name and we get crossed off a list. They ask if we’ve voted anywhere else today, we say no, and they give us a ballot paper. Then we vote.
    And if we don’t… we get fined.
    So for me, photo ID isn’t an obvious necessity. I don’t think anyone’s saying we have voter fraud. But then it’s compulsory, so I guess it’s hard to be fraudulent.

    • It would be really interesting to know the context in which each of those systems work… Although as we said, it has been established that there is no significant voter fraud in the US, even with their system. I guess our frustration should be focused on the day of the vote instead; Tuesday makes little sense as well. I wonder, how does that work in Australia? Do you vote on a day off?

      • I confess, I did leave my comment before I’d finished listening to the episode, because mostly I was puzzled by the idea that one would have to have photo ID. It occurred to me that if voting is compulsory, ID is less necessary. It’s another one of those cultural blind spots: for you it’s how do you not have photo ID, for me it’s how do countries work with non-compulsory voting?

        We have all day Saturday to vote, which for many people is a day off. There are places to vote all over, usually schools or churches. Most of those places will run a fundraiser on the day, too, so there’s usually a sausage sizzle or a cake stall or both, so you can eat while you wait in line. I did have to work all day on a Saturday one time (and out of my electorate, and a long way from a polling station), and so I postal voted that time, but mostly I reckon even if you’re working you can get to a station.

        But I don’t understand Tuesdays either. It seems (to me) to presuppose that only the rich will vote…

      • Honestly, your version seems like the most fun time of all the ones I’ve seen…

  2. Here’s the thing about voter ID in the US: the lack of requirement for voter ID in most places was never an issue until the Supreme Court overturned a key portion of the Voting Rights Act a few years ago. That provision, based on past misbehavior by some states and municipalities (regarding the voting rights of African-Americans, largely, but not exclusively in the South), required that all changes to voting be approved by the Justice Department before being put into effect. Once that requirement was removed, a number of states (not only in the South, but wherever Republicans were in control) began imposing ID requirements for voting. The same places found the need to close offices, or reduce hours, where IDs can be obtained in area where large numbers of African-Americans (or students, etc.) live.

    In some places, at least, college student IDs are not acceptable for voting, but hunting licenses are. It’s all in the demographics

    There’s no “voter ID” as such. Drivers licenses are typically used where ID is required. States such as Pennsylvania, where I live, have no voter ID requirement, but make available ID cards for people who do not drive, because photo IDs are required for so many (even non-governmental) purposes. They look a lot like drivers licenses, but you wouldn’t want to be stopped for a traffic violation with that as your only ID!

    When I vote – at only a single location in my neighborhood – I sign on a sheet with data for several voters, alphabetized. My signature is compared with the signature on record for me. I am recorded as having voted, and cannot vote again in the current election. This system can theoretically be beaten, but it’s not easy, and would be fairly quickly detected in many cases.

    There’s a reason we don’t have a national ID card in the US: the concept has been vigorously opposed by the right wing every time it has been suggested (not the entire right wing, but certainly the paranoid fringe, and then some). They don’t want to register their guns, and they don’t want to register themselves. Because of their fear of a tyrannical US government, they maintain the need for the capacity to avoid being tracked.

    It’s easy to write this off as mere paranoia, but the longer Donald Trump is in the White House, the less inclined I am to argue the point.

    • Thanks for the detailed explanation Bill. I had known about the demographic bias of the voter ID debate, but this certainly explains a lot of the context. Consider myself educated!

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