24 April 2007

More about elections, etc.

My Site Meter counter hit 20,000 yesterday. That means my blog has been visited twenty thousand times since January 2006. That's a milestone.

If the Blogger software is working correctly, there are nearly 400 posts on this blog. I still have some indexing work to do to make them all easier to find by subject.

April sunrise at La Renaudière


Thinking about French elections vs. American elections: One interesting thing about the voting here in France is that only one office or issue is voted on at a time. Sunday's first-round presidential balloting called on voters to make just one decision: who do you want as president?

In June, parliamentary elections will be held and voters will choose their member of the National Assembly. At other times, there will be municipal elections (mayors), and then regional elections (regional councils), and finally once in a while there will be a referendum on a specific issue — the last one was on the European constitution, which failed.

In the U.S., voting is much more complicated, I think. In presidential election years, you vote not only for president but for a member of Congress and maybe one or two U.S. Senators. You also vote for representatives and senators at the state level, maybe a mayor and governor, secretary of state, attorney general, agriculture commissioner, and lieutenant governor — and judges, school board members, and dog-catchers. In California and other states, there are also usually dozens of propositions on one issue or another on the ballot.

Springtime flowers in the garden

I know in California there were a lot of people who either had to spend days studying all the candidates and propositions, or who decided it was just too much trouble and tuned out. Or they voted for one or two offices but not the others. And all the propositions! Was it better just not to vote if you hadn't had time to study the issues? Or to vote sort of randomly for unknown candidates and propositions?

No wonder turnout is low. The process needs to be simplified.

The French process does seem simpler, and it probably encourages people to participate. The turnout in Sunday's voting in France was about 85%. People get to vote for fewer candidates and propositions, but when it comes to the big offices and question, they turn out.


Flowers in a Paris garden

Speaking of voting, we can't. We are not citizens and we are not allowed to participate in French elections. That doesn't keep us from being interested in the outcome.

Here's a description of the voting process in a small town in France. It's on Amy's Loire Valley blog. She lives in Restigné, on the other side of Tours from Saint-Aignan. I read her daily.


  1. Yes, I too have always found the process very complicated in the US. I remember trying to explain things to my students when I was still a teacher and simplifying was definitely not an easy task.
    As for the turnout, it's the first time in decades, that the French have voted so en masse! Probably due to the results of the last presidential election when JM LePen got to the second round!

  2. American elections are expensive also. Did your neighbors use paper ballots like Amy did? That's a cheap way to vote, but we'd wonder about tampering here in the US.

    I remember visiting SF around election time and seeing all those proposition signs which baffled me.

    I prefer voting for everything at once althougth I like the way the French vote for a large number of candidates and then do the run-off.

    Congrats on your 20,000 milestone. I really like your blog and Walt's also.

    Lately, I've had trouble with the blog remembering my password. I dunno why, but I have to resignup to post here.

  3. Yeah, my fingers are definitely tired logging on here 20000+ times.


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