When people ask me how I like Seattle, my response usually includes the weather, the sites to see, the food, and occasionally the shopping. However, it’s the little things like the info on my pizza box that truly explain why I love the Pacific Northwest.
Last week, Damon and I ordered some pizza from the local chain Pagliacci. Typically on the top of their boxes, they print information and statistics about going green, but today’s delivery was different. NOt only was there a flyer taped to front letting me know that they would be begin their services one hour early for debate nights, the box was full of voting stat’s from around the world. And yes, you did just read the last sentence correctly…opening early for the presidential debates. In Seattle, they treat the presidential debates like the Superbowl. How awesome is that? I thought I would also share with you some of the wealth of knowledge on my pizza box.
Presidents Rate: Over the past 30 years, US voter turnout has averaged 52.5% for presidential elections, whereas in non-presidential elections it drops to under 40%.
Australia 95, USA 55: At election time, 95% of Australians go to the polls. Why? Well, it’s been the law since 1924. Refuse and get fined; refuse to pay, go to jail. Do you think a law like that would inspire American voters to improve on their 55% turnout in 2004?
Why do we vote in November? Since 1845, U.S. presidential and congressional elections have taken place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Why? FARMERS ARE TOO BUSY THE REST OF THE YEAR. American society was largely agrarian in 1845, and in November the harvest was in and the weather mild enough for travel on dirt roads. POLLING PLACES WERE FAR AWAY. Voting could only take place at the county seat- sometimes a day away by horse and buggy. NO TRAVEL ON SUNDAY. To make it to a polling place on Monday, a voter would have had to miss church to hit the raod. BOOKEEPING AND MARKETING. Most businesses finished the books early in the month, and the farmers took their crops to market on Wednesdays. That left Tuesday.
How do we stack up? Washington ranked third in voter turnout for the 2004 election. 82% of all registered voters participated, compared with 89% in COlorado and 85% in Oregon. Go Washington!
Malta’s the Most; In Malta, earlier this year, voter turnout for parliamentary elections was 93% – the lowest since 1971! The USA ranks in the bottom 20% of the world voter participation.
Why the Electoral College? As the framers of the Constitution considered how to elect the president and vice president, two choices emerged: direct popular election or election by Congress. The method they chose – indirect popular election – was a compromise that reinforced the cohesiveness of the young nation. As the country grew, the Electoral College (as it was dubbed decades later) effectively balanced power between large and small states. (not all of this I necessarily agree with, by the way….it forgot to mention, as I tell my students, that many of our framers didn’t think the average AMerican was intelligent enough to vote. In fact, GW was not elected by the people at all…hmmm).
Anyways, there was a bunch more facts on my small onion pizza, but you get the point! Have fun watching the debates! I am anticiapting a good laugh tomorrow night!