June 26, 2003

Working out the kinks  

Sorry for the lack of posts yesterday - Blogger was down, but I was a little preoccupied anyway, reinventing Szechuan chicken and learning the Soviet national anthem (you can learn it too, here).

I did want to say a few words about the so-called MoveOn primary yesterday. I know it was essentially an internal thing for MoveOn, but it was also much-hyped as the wave of the future, the first real crack at internet voting, etc. I myself wasn't even planning on voting, even though I am a member of MoveOn, because I'm still not sure who I support nin the race, but then Ruminate This pointed out that they were using approval voting, which made more sense for poor, undecided me, and I decided to check it out. On the other hand, given the parameters of the primary approval voting seemed like an awfully strange system to use, since dividing individual votes makes it much harder to reach 50% - the agreed threshhold for a MoveOn endoresment.

But when I got to the voting page, there were two questions on the ballot - one asking me to pick a single candidate, the other asking me to approve of all those candidates I would support against Bush. The catch: only the first question was accompanied by an explanation of what the vote would be used for, namely it would cound toward the 50% needed by an individual candidate to win MoveOn's endorsement. It's still not clear to me what they're going to do with the other information, but it was somewhat unsettling. As a voter, I want to know just what it is I'm voting for. This is not the NYTimes registration page we're talking about - it's presented and publicized as a legitimate voting process.

When I got back to my email account, I found something even more disturbing - they had emailed me a confirmation, including the names of the candidates I voted for. I know this is a PAC, and I'm therefore supposed to be some kind of activist, but it still seems a little strange to be sending out messages like this. It demonstrates not only the clear documentation of of my vote in their database, but a willingness to use that information for (at a minimum) practical ends. I found myself wishing I hadn't voted in the first place, wondering about how they would use my voting record.


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