Rocking chairs, rocking elections

It is always surprising when daylight savings time creeps up on you, especially when snow still lingers in the shadows. And, let’s not forget last year’s March snow. Lord forbid, we have such an event this year.

Thanks to President George W. Bush, you remember him, daylight savings time was moved by two weeks – great in spring but depressing in the fall. On Sunday, I decided that instead of springing forward an hour right out of bed, I would wait until about 5 o’clock. Then I could enjoy two more hours of sunlight instead grumbling all day about how late it was.

When Linda and I moved here some 26 years ago, our move was based in part on the weather. No more frozen ground from Thanksgiving to Easter. I remember walking across the Ohio River on the ice in 1977 and it’s about a mile wide. But then tobogganing three or four months a year was a kid’s cold paradise.

When kids head outside to play, they aren’t bothered by the cold. My grandkids will run right outside in short sleeves until we call them back inside to put on their coats. Meanwhile, Linda and I have sweaters on as we rock back and forth in our rockers.  

Getting all ADD on you; did you know that, while often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the rocking chair was actually invented by a German fellow: “Michael Thonet, a German craftsman, created the first bentwood rocking chair in 1860,” according to Wikipedia, and of course they are always right.

Doesn’t seem like the time of the year for an election. Usually, primaries are in May. Our traditional November elections can be rainy but not as nasty as the upcoming winter election.

Just after publication of this week’s issue, there will be an election on March 18 for an interim School Board Member, since Patricia Carpenter resigned from her position as the representative for Midlothian District.

Five candidates vie for the year and a half left until Ms. Carpenter’s seat is filled after a general election on November 3, 2015. Dianne Mallory-Coble, Bill Colgate, Debra Girvin, Robert Olsen and Gary Powers have hopes of landing the position that has significant input on the School Board. The sheriff’s position is also on the ballot.

Mr. Olsen has objected to the ethics of the candidates association with political parties in Chesterfield, primarily the CGOP (Republicans).

Before the early 1990s the School Board was appointed by the Supervisor of each Magisterial District. An elected Board was created in 1991, and it was explicitly mandated with the caveat that those running for election would not have any affiliation with any political party.

Many of you know, that just isn’t how it works. Even though a candidate proclaims (as required) to be independent, he or she, once registered, some candidates head straight to the Republican Party for endorsement and cash, too. It’s unfair at best, unethical at least, in a predominately Republican county.

I read about a system used in many voting jurisdictions in the U.S., Canada and to elect the Secretary General of the United Nations. It’s called Approval Voting or Score Voting.

If more than two are on a ballot, such as in the five candidate race in Midlothian, Approval Voting would allow a voter to vote for any number of candidates. “The candidate with the most votes wins. As in Approval Voting, it is most often discussed in the context of single-winner elections, but variations can also be applied to multi-winner ‘at large’ elections. So, it gives you great flexibility in being able to express your differences. It’s on a ranking system. Each person that you approve of gets a vote, and the person with the most approval wins the election,” said mathematician Steven Brams, PhD.

 “For instance, voters using Approval Voting largely chose to vote for more than one candidate. Also, the candidates showing scant support were better represented under Approval Voting. Their supporters are able to safely vote for them, even if they had also cast votes for more electable compromise candidates,” explains the Center for Election Science.

“In 1990, Oregon used Approval Voting in a statewide advisory referendum on school financing, which presented voters with five different options and allowed them to vote for as many as they wished,” according to the Center for Election Science. “It is also used for political straw polls in Pennsylvania and the state Libertarian Party in Colorado and Texas.

The Center for Election Science has also done historic research finding that “Approval and Score Voting were the foundation of government in renaissance Venice, and Ancient Sparta, respectively. These were two of the longest lasting (perhaps the two longest lasting) democracies ever. Cardinals used Approval Voting for centuries to elect the Catholic Pope (at the time the most powerful elected person in the world),” concluded research by the Center for Election Science.

Approval Voting would remove politics from School Board elections, which has been the intention all along but unsuccessful. Politics continues to play into School Board elections whether you like it or not, and it will outlast you and I if something is not done, if not now, tomorrow.

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