Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Strong Bonds


Photo by EMSL on Flickr.
Bonds wins: Anita Bonds won Tuesday's special election with 32% of the vote. Elissa Silverman was second with 28%, Patrick Mara 23%, and Matt Frumin 11%. (Post)

Budget referendum passes easily: DC voters overwhelmingly supported the budget autonomy referendum Tuesday. Will DC's congressional overlords be upset by citizens asserting their rights? (DCist)

Regional transit system emerging in Maryland: Officials in Howard and Anne Arundel County are pushing for a truly regional bus system under a unified name and fare structure. (Baltimore Sun)

Fewer offices, more Silver Spring housing: A proposed office building switched to residential and is adding almost 300 apartments to downtown Silver Spring. The county planning office says this is part of a trend. (Gazette)

Bag fee for fewer stores?: 4 Montgomery councilmembers want to narrow the year-old bag fee to only affect stores that sell food (like DC's law). Council staff and the Department of Environmental Protection want the law to stay. (Examiner)

Tesla blocked from Virginia: Tesla wanted to open a showroom in Tysons, but Virginia law wouldn't allow it because they weren't going through a dealership. The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association lobbied for the decision. (WTOP)

Every stadium deal has a subsidy: Matt Yglesias is skeptical that a DC United stadium deal would be good for DC. The team may pay for the stadium but the land and infrastructure would be free. All that for 17 games per year. (Slate)

And...: The recently-announced Silver Line bids are just the first of many contracts for Phase 2. (Post) ... Pennsylvania Avenue finally reopens to pedestrians and cyclists. (NBC) ... A Beverly Hills driver mowed down a cyclist and was caught on camera. (Fox LA)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
Nick Casey is a Project Manager at the Center for American Progress. He and his wife live in Takoma DC. Nick is originally from the west side of Cleveland and attended Denison University. His posts do not necessarily reflect the views of his employer.  

Comments

Add a comment »

absentee ballos not counted, apparently about 1000 returned, and I suspect that will bring Mara up to around Silverman's level.

I've never understood why we aren't taking the bags the newspapers come in.

by charlie on Apr 24, 2013 8:22 am • linkreport

Text message from Silverman to Frumin this morning: "Matt, I told you so. XOXO, Elissa."

by Jeff G. on Apr 24, 2013 8:34 am • linkreport

68% of voters rejected Anita Bonds yesterday. Long live Council Member Anita Bonds.

by Ward 1 Guy on Apr 24, 2013 8:35 am • linkreport

Heartfelt congratulations to Fort Myer Construction Company. You really stepped up to put your lobbyist on the Council. May the well-deserved city construction contracts keep raining down upon you at whatever price you name.

by Ward 1 Guy on Apr 24, 2013 8:40 am • linkreport

@charlie -- Silverman is currently leading Mara by ~2,400 votes.It would take a lot more than 1,000 absentee ballots to tighten that up. (Even with ~5,000 absentees in, which is the last figure I heard, they would have to be radically different from the early and in-person votes to bring Mara up by any significant margin).

by Jacques on Apr 24, 2013 8:40 am • linkreport

Instant Runoff Voting for these special elections is what we need. Hopefully we won't have to have another one for a while.

Non-partisan blanket primaries for all the normal races in DC. Top two vote-getters face off in the general election.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 8:44 am • linkreport

Or: Statehood Green Party should get serious and start attracting and running real candidates.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 8:45 am • linkreport

@ Jacques; true. However, 1000 votes difference is what I would call pretty close.

Doesn't change the end result -- neither Silverman nor Mara showed any crossover appeal.

@MLD; are you saying runoff until one candidate gets 50 percent of the vote?

by charlie on Apr 24, 2013 8:48 am • linkreport

Personally, I was undecided until a day ago. All the major campaigns (Silverman, Bonds, Mara, Frumin, Redd) didn't do a very good job of differentiating themselves and didn't provide specific, detailed information on how they'd set out to achieve their goals (or, even what their goals are). For example, off the top of your head, can you list specific differences between Frumin, Silverman, and Mara's plans for public safety?

Take a look at the websites for the candidates. All say they support public safety and that's it's really important to have police officers and reduce crime, but none have a solid plan or details on their sites. So, how do you pick? There's Lets Choose DC to provide some additional information, but if candidates can't put solid plans on their sites, does that give much hope for how they'll serve DC if elected?

I'm not one for choosing a candidate because the Washington Post, City Paper, union-endorsement-of-the-day, or even GGW says to.

I love DC and believe that the best candidate should win, so I try to compare candidates myself rather than blindly vote for the most popular among my friends or because a blog I enjoy says I should. It's not a high school student government popularity contest; it's to elect someone who will run the nation's capital.

by Matt A on Apr 24, 2013 8:49 am • linkreport

LOL. Great job sticking to your guns, Frumin. Silverman should have approached him earlier, but still. This would have been a comfortable win. Voting in these special elections is a waste of time until our progressive candidates can figure out this astonishingly simple problem.

by worthing on Apr 24, 2013 8:53 am • linkreport

@charlie
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting
There are some localities that already use it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting_in_the_United_States

Hopefully we won't have too many special elections in the near future. It feels like we have had so many in the last few years.

I think an easier change DC could do for regular elections is just have non-partisan blanket primaries. In that, for the primary election all the candidates are together on one ballot and you select one - everyone can vote in this primary regardless of party. Then the two candidates with the most votes face off in the general election. It would avoid the stuff we get in DC now where there is one election that counts (Dem Primary) and then a general election that people don't bother to show up for and one candidate gets 80% of the vote.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 8:56 am • linkreport

However, 1000 votes difference is what I would call pretty close.

1,000 votes is 2% in this election - that's not close.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 8:58 am • linkreport

Voting in these special elections is a waste of time until our progressive candidates can figure out this astonishingly simple problem.

Yes, don't vote! That'll really show them that you're ready to go out there and get things done for candidates in the future!

Not voting is never a good way to get your message across.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 9:01 am • linkreport

Is Matt Yglesias unaware of the fact that nearly all developments deals have a subsidy?

by selxic on Apr 24, 2013 9:02 am • linkreport

@MLD; yep, I suspect a non partisan primary is easier to do.

Other election comments:

1. Mara clearly is dead in the water.

2. I do think Silverman has a chance to run for the Ward 6 seat. Maybe she will have better choices in people helping her next time around.

3. Did either Zukerman or Redd raise their issues? I'd give a B or B+ to zuckerman, and a D to Redd. (on the issues)

4. Lowest turnout ever?

5. Clearly, this is a city divided between car owners, hipsters, and blacks. I joke, I joke....

by charlie on Apr 24, 2013 9:10 am • linkreport

This is a big win for anyone who is looking to get some construction work done in DC. Specifically the contractors from far outside the district who lined up to give Bonds $1,000 each and ensure they will win contracts thousands of times bigger than that. Thats a pretty solid ROI, can't fault them for that.

by Kyle-W on Apr 24, 2013 9:11 am • linkreport

Yes, don't vote! That'll really show them that you're ready to go out there and get things done for candidates in the future!

Not voting is never a good way to get your message across.

No, I'll still vote, of course, but I'll grumpily acknowledge the futility of the act every single time we get a stubborn Weaver/Biddle or Silverman/Frumin setup. I'd have no message to get across than "thanks for wasting everyone's time, guys. Again," and that doesn't get delivered by my voting or not voting. It gets delivered when DC's progressive candidates read the results of the election. Again.

by worthing on Apr 24, 2013 9:17 am • linkreport

Great message, Mr. Holcomb. Virginia is a great place to do business ... as long as you adhere to the status quo.

by m2fc on Apr 24, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

The only way the DC united stadium deal makes sense is if DC gets to redevelop Stadium Armory (and NOT piss away hopes and dreams on the Redskins returning to DC). Then it makes sense if moving them down to buzard point allows the city to actually build a neighborhood to replace the parking lots/stadium and actually have capitol hill extend all the way to the Anacostia.

by drumz on Apr 24, 2013 9:34 am • linkreport

We need to force Montgomery County to keep apartment rates below $1000 for a studio, $1200 for a one bedroom and $1400 for a two bedroom. People on a federal salary cannot afford these "luxury" apartments.

by Redline SOS on Apr 24, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

Sweet lord. Can we please have a runoff next time? It might get people to actually vote.

by aaa on Apr 24, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

so are all the folks who were explaining that the pot poll was garbage, that the endorsements were meaningless, and that Frumin might well be ahead of Silverman, going to have anything to say today? Looks like if she had gotten half of Frumin's votes, she'd be on the Council.

by Annandalian on Apr 24, 2013 9:43 am • linkreport

68% of voters rejected Anita Bonds yesterday. Long live Council Member Anita Bonds.

To be fair, this is almost always the case, it's just that we narrow elections down to two candidates so that it doesn't seem that way. In 2008 Obama won a small majority in the general election and won fewer votes than Clinton in the primary (if you count Michigan where Obama's name was not on the ballot). So most voters didn't support him either. Most Republicans didn't support Romney. If you look at any race, and look at the support of each candidate in all of the primaries for that race, you'll normally find that the top vote getter has far less than 50% of the vote.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 9:46 am • linkreport

What I think we're all missing is the most important story here, and that's that I won a pizza. And doesn't that make us all winners - except for all of you since I'm not sharing my pizza.

But seriously, I'll second Annadalian's post. I think the election showed the poll was more accurate than previously thought, that Frumin helped elect Bonds, that Mara can't win a council seat (I mean, when will he get another chance like this?) and that potholepalooze will be an all-year event.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

"68% of voters rejected Anita Bonds yesterday. Long live Council Member Anita Bonds. "

To be fair, over 72% of voters rejected Silverman yesterday, using that logic.

by Matt A on Apr 24, 2013 9:55 am • linkreport

18 months.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 24, 2013 9:58 am • linkreport

Why not preference voting? Choose candidates in order of preference. This allows the more extreme or unknown candidates to test the waters, but ensures that the outcome is one that the majority can live with. Its how they do all elections in Australia and how we do everything else in life. If you go to a restaurant and order dish A, you don't get to go hungry if they don't have it: you get to choose again.

by SJE on Apr 24, 2013 10:07 am • linkreport

Anita Bonds won Tuesday's special election

Ah, another victory of democrazy. A city council woman elected by 16,054 votes, or (16,054/632,323) 2,5% of the population, (16,054/(632,323-17%)) 3% of eligible voters (adults), or (16,054/505,403) 3.2% of registered voters.

In short, between one in every thirty to forty Washingtonians voted for her.

Budget referendum passes easily

Same math. The referendum passed with (41,438/632,323) 6.5% support of Washingtonians, 7.9% of adult Washingtonians (eligible voters), and 8.1% of registered voters.

Another victory of marginal proportions.

Based on these numbers it is fair to say that Washingtonians did not give a sh!t about this election. Turn-out was (49,869/505,403) less than 10% of registered voters. The results should be ignored.

@ MLD:Instant Runoff Voting for these special elections is what we need.

No, you need people to show up at the polls first.

The Virginia Automobile Dealers Association lobbied for the decision.

Businesses for less free market!

by Jasper on Apr 24, 2013 10:09 am • linkreport

building apts in place of offices seems like a logical direction, given how weak the regional office market is, especially outside the district (I'm wary of the new office projects in the pipeline in Tysons, Reston, and, heaven help us, Arlington) while the residential market remains quite strong.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 10:11 am • linkreport

Jasper,

Turnout has nothing to do with democracy, unless you think there was voter suppression. But there is no evidence of that. Most people just calculate - correctly I'll add - that their vote won't matter. Instant runoff would make votes more likely to matter (or make it more difficult to pre-determine that they won's) and thus should drive up voting.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 10:14 am • linkreport

Funny, things turned out exactly as predicted. Silverman got torpedoed by Frumin as anyone with a brain knew would happen.

I did like Bonds' victory speech in which she gave mad props to Mayor for Life and Jack Evans. Good to see a "Corruption Caucus" forming on the Council.

I'm actually not too depressed, as I didn't bother to vote.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 10:16 am • linkreport

Since this was a special election, won't Bonds need to defend the seat in a year?

by Jer on Apr 24, 2013 10:16 am • linkreport

Most people just calculate - correctly I'll add - that their vote won't matter.

Exactly. In the situation we faced yesterday--in which the progressive vote was inevitably going to be split, the only thing that voting (for Mara, Frumin, or Silverman) was going to do is create an unnecessary emotional investment. No thanks.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 10:19 am • linkreport

@aaa:

Sweet lord. Can we please have a runoff next time? It might get people to actually vote.

Would IRV have changed the outcome? In what way? You now have your answer to the question, "Why we will not see IRV anytime soon."

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 10:26 am • linkreport

"unless you think there was voter suppression"

The most effective voter supression known is convincing people their vote won't matter.

by charlie on Apr 24, 2013 10:32 am • linkreport

Seems like the anti-longtime DC residents brigade lost...yet again.

If anything, we now see that Silverman's "citywide appeal" was limited entirely to WOTR....something I suggested all along. She does have the right to be happy that the margin was close though. This also likely dooms her chances of winning again next year.

And sorry, it was long decided that Michigan's votes would be irrelevant to any discussion about the actual outcome. Hillary'ites attempted to call foul...but it was her lousy campaign that deserved the blame.

Happy Silverman lost...bummed about Frumin...ok w/Bonds and chuckle to hear people whine about Bonds doing what every other CM w/outside employment have done. Selective outrage is always best served cold.

by HogWash on Apr 24, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

I'm kind of against the stadium if they aren't paying for it all. If it makes sense they will put up the money. Otherwise just put it out in Virginia or Maryland, just make it transit accessible. That land could be homes for literally thousands of people, why are we turning down that tax base? Newark had a pretty bad experience with Red Bull stadium and it's owners as I recall.

Re: apartments and office I think it's ideal to have a good mix around metro stations. We need more housing downtown and more office space around the rest of the core as well. That's actually one thing Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda etc do better than DC.

by Alan B. on Apr 24, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

"Most people just calculate - correctly I'll add - that their vote won't matter"

Similarly their decision to litter or not will have minimal impact on the appearance of their neighborhood (let alone the state of the oceans) - their decision to bike or use transit will not effect which year the earth goes into civilization threatening warming (might delay it a few nanoseconds) etc. (granted the outcomes in those cases not as binary as in election, but still). This merely shows that the fundamental basis of ethical action is NOT strictly utilitarian, but either Kantian or rule utilitarian or what have you. We must act as if the rule we are using to decide our actions, was used by everyone else.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

The most effective voter supression known is convincing people their vote won't matter

I disagree. It's far better to disenfranchise people. But, who do you think is guilty of this?

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

@Jer

Yes. She'll need to defend the seat next year in a Democratic primary.

by Adam L on Apr 24, 2013 10:38 am • linkreport

The margin of Bonds over Silverman was explained by the "usual map" in DC elections. Silverman carried a margin over Bonds from the wards 1,2, 3, and 6 of +6,887 and she lost to Bonds in Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 by 9,201. That net losing margin was -2,314. In fact, while far fewer ballots were cast east of the river, the huge share to Bonds explains gave her the margin that could not be overcome elsewhere. In wards 7 and 8 Bonds tallied 5,057 votes to only 330 for Silverman. That margin +4,727. As to who was the "spoiler" from Silverman supporters' perspective? The counter narrative based on the numbers is that Mara played a much bigger role than Frumin. In the Wards 1, 2, 3, and 6, Mara doubled Frumin's total. If Silverman had done better against Mara (or made an "effective offer" to Mara rather than Frumin), she might have done much better and could very well have put her over the top.

by Tom M on Apr 24, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

Similarly their decision to litter or not will have minimal impact

I don't think that's similar. The litter will have some impact. 1 vote will not (in almost every case). The value of one more vote in almost every election is zero.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

"Or: Statehood Green Party should get serious and start attracting and running real candidates. "

Ouch.

Listen, it's very difficult to run a third party candidacy anywhere. The national Green Party has seen some individual victories (particularly in California, on the local level), but it's tough going getting people out of the two-party frame of mind. I'd like to think I was a decent candidate in 2011. Some former Statehood Greens have switched over to the Democratic Party and made a much bigger splash. Some people literally won't even consider a candidate in this town without a D next to their name, I've literally had people say it in so many words, to my face, with a smile.

by Alan Page on Apr 24, 2013 10:41 am • linkreport

Red Bull Arena is in Harrison, Alan B. Development around that stadium is beginning to pick up again.

by selxic on Apr 24, 2013 10:44 am • linkreport

@ David C:Turnout has nothing to do with democracy

Yes it does. Democracy means is the power of the people. If the people don't show up, you can not derive power from that.

Most people just calculate - correctly I'll add - that their vote won't matter.

A vote not cast, is a voice not heard. The power over the government is derived from "We, the People". In DC, it is from "a few folks who did not have anything better to do". No wonder the local government is a mess.

Also, while the City Council vote was between near identical candidates, there was an important referendum on the ballot. The current outcome has no legitimacy because of the low turn-out.

by Jasper on Apr 24, 2013 10:44 am • linkreport

"If anything, we now see that Silverman's "citywide appeal" was limited entirely to WOTR...."

First of all, 6 out of 8 wards are west of the river. That's the overwhelming majority of the city: by area and by population. Silverman won handily in wards 1 and 6, the two most racially and income diverse wards in the city.

Second off, Bonds got 78% of the vote in Wards 7 and 8, respectively, so don't just say Silverman's appeal was limited to WOTR, EVERY candidate not named Anita Bonds' appeal was proven to be limited to WOTR yesterday.

by washingtonian on Apr 24, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

I'm surprised at how little Yglesias knows about land development in big cities. There would be similar deals and infrastructure for any development there, sports or residential. Also, the devil is in the details. "Construction costs" can be very broad. Many things that might involve hooking up water and electrical can be quietly shifted over to "contruction costs" that United ownership would pay for rather than "infrastructure" that the city would pay for.

The key is that the team ownership wants to make sure that infrastructure (regardless of who pays to construct it) would be publicly owned for liability reasons.

As far as the land, the city would have to negotiate with PEPCO et al. regardless of what gets built there. That's part of why that site makes so much sense for a soccer stadium. If you're going to do all the work required to free up the land, you need to go big. It doens't get much bigger than a privately financed $100m+ stadium (construction jobs!) that will bring in visibility for the city when the team wins and will bring in taxes on tickets and concessions regardless of win, lose, or draw.

by Cavan on Apr 24, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

If anything, we now see that Silverman's "citywide appeal" was limited entirely to WOTR

So 75% of the city. That's as citywide as you get in this town. I don't think anyone argued that she would do well EOTR, so if you were saying that then I'm pretty sure EVERYONE agreed with you. Who said otherwise?

This also likely dooms her chances of winning again next year.

I see it the other way, but we may find out - unless Wells runs for Mayor, she runs for his seat.

it was long decided that Michigan's votes would be irrelevant to any discussion about the actual outcome.

The official outcome? Yes. That's why Obama is President and she isn't. But when talking about "voter preference" it's still relevant. But even without considering Michigan, the point is still valid. Only about half the country supported the Democratic nominee and only about half of Democrats supported Obama, so only about 25% of people considered him their first choice (if even that). If we had IR for President and no primaries I'd bet Obama would not have won.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

I am dead set against the DC taxpayers ("DC" pays for nothing...) to fund land purchase to allow for a stadium the rich owners want to use. Let the owners foot the bill if this is "such a good deal". I can MAYBE see granting them a TIF within reasonable bounds. And infrastructure costs, if they are just that and not a way to hide even higher subsidies, is appropriate. Otherwise, DC United can find another jurisdiction willing to waste money. DC has HIGHER priorities than a play pen. I'm still seething about the give away to the Lerner family and how the Lerner's and National's have treated the District....

by Tom M on Apr 24, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

LOL @ Mara getting roughly the same number of votes he got in 2011 (11,000), despite a smaller field of candidates against which to compete, two years worth of demographic changes in the city and increased name recognition. So much for the value of a Post endorsement in local races. His potential to win citywide is dead in the water. He even lost in his own ward (Ward 1) to Silverman. Stay on the SBOE, Mara.

I'm going to attribute a smaller field of candidates as the explanation for Bonds earning a few thousand more votes than Orange did in 2011.

by washingtonian on Apr 24, 2013 10:53 am • linkreport

If the people don't show up, you can not derive power from that.

Choosing not to vote is a choice.

A vote not cast, is a voice not heard.

No, it's a voice that says "I don't really care very much" or "The infinitesimal probability that the election may turn on my vote is not worth 20 minutes of my day." If you don't hear that, then you're not listening.

The current outcome has no legitimacy because of the low turn-out.

Sure it does. Most people realized it was going to pass. They were OK with that, so they stayed home.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

@David C; no, really making people gloomy works best.

That's why you go heaviy negative in the last few days in some elections -- makes people feel bad about democracy. You want to drive down turnout.

Releasing poll numbers that show an overwhelming wins works well too.

But the best ones are just, like DC, are convincing voters that they can't get their candidates to win.

Remember, people have been doing voter suppression for years. challenging voters at the polls is a tool.

10% turnout in any election is a bad joke. Thank god Jaspar hasn't heard of the iowa caucus...

by charlie on Apr 24, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

Seems like the anti-longtime DC residents brigade lost...yet again.

Ah, yes, I forgot, you're a big Barry fan.

If anything, we now see that Silverman's "citywide appeal" was limited entirely to WOTR....something I suggested all along. She does have the right to be happy that the margin was close though. This also likely dooms her chances of winning again next year.

This pretty much sums up the race:

“I didn’t know any of them,” said Margaret Winston, 77, a retired federal employee. “But I’m a Democrat. So I voted for — who was it? — Anita.”
As usual, the election was driven by 80 year old low-information voters.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

"I don't think that's similar. The litter will have some impact. 1 vote will not (in almost every case). The value of one more vote in almost every election is zero"

as i said, voting is more of a binary outcome. Arguably. But really if my neighborhood has 49 mcdonalds cups in road, or 50, does it matter that much? I would say the difference in appearance is effectively zero. Im not refraining from littering because I think that a road with 49 cups looks better than one with 50 cups.

And Im certainly not voting (and I think ive missed maybe one or two elections in 30 years) because I think the probability of my vote deciding an election times the impact of the difference between candidates exceeds the value of my time.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

I should have said the Newark area, didn't think anyone would recognize Harrison by name. Definitely worst for Harrison, but it didn't bring any benefits to Newark as far as I'm concerned despite being literally a 1/4 mile from the city. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-09/red-bulls-stadium-bonds-sap-new-jersey-town-as-condominium-visions-vanish.html

by Alan B. on Apr 24, 2013 11:00 am • linkreport

@Jasper
The power over the government is derived from "We, the People". In DC, it is from "a few folks who did not have anything better to do". No wonder the local government is a mess.

Interesting that this is what you think. I would prefer to think of it as "a few folks who actually think this stuff is important." People who don't care are the ones who aren't voting.

Honestly if you don't vote because you think your vote doesn't count I dunno what to tell you. Or if you don't vote because you want to avoid "an unnecessary emotional investment." That indicates you only vote when you don't care, in which case don't even bother at all. And then don't come around complaining about anything the people you don't vote for do or don't do.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

@Tom M: What gets tricky here is Mara's positioning himself as both a Republican and a progressive.

One could imagine a progressive coalition in which a group of candidates and supporters mutually agree to pick one and for the others to drop out. It's what David Alpert suggested (with no evidence) happened to keep Brown out of this race, and it very definitely happened in the 2006 primary when A. Scott Bolden convinced David Bowers to drop out of the race in his challenge to Phil Mendelson.

And in this race, Patrick Mara was explicitly telling progressives not to split the vote. But that's only credible if you (a) can prove you have the best chance of winning, and (b) would drop out if one of the others accomplishes (a).

But can anyone imagine a scenario in which Mara would have bowed out himself? He was the only Republican running: not only can I not see any party member dropping out and endorsing someone of a different party, I think a number of his Republican supporters wouldn't have voted for any progressive Democrat.

by thm on Apr 24, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

The Iowa cauces are a much better example of voter suppression. Huge time commitment at a very specific time (no absentee or early voting there), archaic and hard to understand rules, etc....

But Poll taxes work well. English language tests or reading tests are good. In one country I lived in, they would post the names of who voted and which party they voted for. That works incredibly well. And there are more better ways (Women can't vote!) If you don't know this then it is clear that you would make a terrible dictator. Luckily my time in the third world has taught me everything you need to know and it will all be in my new book "Dictatorships for Dummies." [Step one: nationalize the police and schools, and then move police, teachers and military around the country every three years so they don't put down roots. These people are dangerous and must be outsiders in their community to be marginalized.]

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 11:02 am • linkreport

And Im certainly not voting (and I think ive missed maybe one or two elections in 30 years) because I think the probability of my vote deciding an election times the impact of the difference between candidates exceeds the value of my time.

Right. You're doing it because you enjoy it. Same reason why I go to football games. But hoping your voting will change the outcome of an election is like hoping your cheering will change the outcome of a football game. It probably won't. So many people don't vote because they don't like it the way you do. Which is the same reason my wife doesn't go to football games.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

"No, it's a voice that says "I don't really care very much" or "The infinitesimal probability that the election may turn on my vote is not worth 20 minutes of my day." If you don't hear that, then you're not listening."

thats the problem with it. It can say "I dont care about democracy and governance" or "i dont care about this particular election" or "i dont see enough difference among these particular candidates" or "I just am busier than most people" or whatever. No way to tell for pols, and not much incentive to discern which it is. Hence it effectively both cedes power to those who DO vote, and to at least some extent, reduces the legitimacy of the entire process. It also seperates people from the broader process (esp the regular non-voters) which I think is probably a larger issue than the actual legitimacy issue.

Broadly in the US, non voting also tends to shift the balance of power - towards the wealthiers, whiter, older, etc. Thats why folks like George Will not only dont see it as a problem, but tend to oppose policies that would increase turnout. This may be less true in DC - where age and race/poverty often run in opposite directions.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

I don't see how Mara was progressive? Since when is telling waiters they don't deserve sick leave progressive? I'd vote for Bonds before him in a heartbeat.

by Alan B. on Apr 24, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

@Washingtonian

Noticed that W4 was certainly the bellwether. Silvermans losing margin matched almost perfectly her losing margin in W4. If W4 doesn't vote yesterday, Silverman is losing by 145 votes. Getting crushed in W4=lose city wide election as always.

Further, I noticed that a candidate who had already withdrawn (Brown) managed to come in second in W8. This seems almost like a net negative for W8 and W7. If a candidate knows that regardless of what they do they are going to get crushed, why should they even attempt to win these wards? (Even Grosso in his landslide this past fall lost 8-1 in W8 and 5-1 in W7 to Brown)

This obviously then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just like how the republicans feel free to absolutely disregard DC's wishes, and lately other strongly democratic regions (see Relief: Sandy - NY, NJ and CT)

End of the day, progressives need to figure out how to ensure the vote isn't split, and these results won't happen. Until that happens, business as usual though.

by Kyle-W on Apr 24, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

"Right. You're doing it because you enjoy it. Same reason why I go to football games."

bilge water. whatever enjoyment I get from clicking the boxes is more than offset by the hassle of waiting in line, which was quite long (predictably) in my Va precinct last time. Or the rush to get home in time (or to get up early) due to Va's voting times.

I do it because its a civic obligation - both to vote in general and to influence the outcome - not my vote alone - but my vote together with the votes of many others like me - if I do not vote because its inconvenient, than how can I expect others no different from me to do so? How can I will for others what I refuse to do myself?

I only "enjoy" it if you do the econ 101 trick of defining "enjoy" (or more commonly, utility) in terms of what I choose. Which is circular reasoning, and proves nothing.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

Right. You're doing it because you enjoy it. Same reason why I go to football games. But hoping your voting will change the outcome of an election is like hoping your cheering will change the outcome of a football game. It probably won't. So many people don't vote because they don't like it the way you do. Which is the same reason my wife doesn't go to football games.

What? People vote because they know that while one individual vote might not make the difference, if everyone took this attitude then we would barely have elections at all. They would consist entirely of senior citizens bused to the polls.

I don't vote because I enjoy standing in line and going to the polls. I vote because how the hell can you expect to have any sort of influence otherwise?

Do you have any sort of opinion one way or another on which the candidates should win? Then you should be voting.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

"People vote because they know that while one individual vote might not make the difference, if everyone took this attitude then we would barely have elections at all."

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&gs_rn=11&gs_ri=psy-ab&suggest=p&cp=9&gs_id=q&xhr=t&q=kant+vs+utilitarianism&es_nrs=true&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&site=&source=hp&oq=kant+vs+u&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.&bvm=bv.45580626,d.dmg&fp=1473308ab855888c&biw=1280&bih=800

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

What would it actually take to do either IRV or a blanket primary in the district? Could it be done via the initiative process? Would it need Congressional and/or Council approval?

by Andrew Pendleton on Apr 24, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

@MLD,

Honestly if you don't vote because you think your vote doesn't count I dunno what to tell you. Or if you don't vote because you want to avoid "an unnecessary emotional investment."

Well, hold on a sec. Surely you recognize there's a collective action problem here. I care very much about the outcome, but with Mara, Frumin, and Silverman all competing for votes (and all three essentially a coin-toss) it was a forgone conclusion what the end result was going to be. And, yes, I think that reduced turnout.

Either way, what upsets people is that "lots more people didn't turn out" not that "one more person didn't turn out." That's the paradox of collective action. My voting would have resulted in the exact same outcome. Only difference is that I'd be far more cranky this morning than I am.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

I don't think Yglesias did much research on what's actually on the table regarding DC United's stadium. What jumped out at me is he mentions that the stadium would require 10 blocks of land. That may be what constitutes Buzzard's Point, but I've never seen a proposal for the stadium to cover that entire area. More like, 2-3 square blocks or so. The area he highlights in his Slate article seems larger than the Nationals' stadium, which doesn't reflect the reality of what DC United is looking for here.

by Potowmack on Apr 24, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

so if you were saying that then I'm pretty sure EVERYONE agreed with you.

Yeah, maybe privately.

I see it the other way, but we may find out - unless Wells runs for Mayor, she runs for his seat.

I'm less now convinced that Wells will run for Mayor..which is why I think her future political chances are doomed. Whether or not she run again for the other soon-to-vacant seats remain to be seen but I imagine she wouldn't unseat Catania, Bonds, Orange and maybe not even Grosso.

That's why Obama is President and she isn't.

That coupled w/her poorly run campaign. Had she not performed the NH scene from the Crying Game, it likely would've been worse.

by HogWash on Apr 24, 2013 11:21 am • linkreport

"That's the paradox of collective action"

Its only a paradox under a utilitarian. classically liberal, individualist view of politics and human nature.

That that view is useful in understanding economics and the workings of markets (which it is) does not mean its the best(and certainly not the only view) of the broader workings of politics and society.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

Hence it effectively both cedes power to those who DO vote, and to at least some extent, reduces the legitimacy of the entire process.

I would edit this to read "it effectively cedes power to large cohorts who vote." And to those who exercise some authority over those cohorts. You and I may vote religiously for Green Party candidates, but we're not going to have any power. Alternatively, the two or three political bosses who rent large church vans and stuff them full of 80 year olds who are only interested in pulling a lever for "the Democrat" are going to be immensely powerful.

It's all a complex ball of emotions, demographics, and motivations. But as others have pointed out it's not really sufficient to say "you only care if you vote" or "an election is only legitimate if there's high turnout."

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

My voting would have resulted in the exact same outcome. Only difference is that I'd be far more cranky this morning than I am.

Taking and expressing this attitude leads others to do so and results in the collective action problem you describe. If you can't be bothered to vote, nobody running can see or care about the reasons. The only people who can see are the friends, relatives, acquaintances, and internet commentariat listening to and reading your opinions. And they are the ones you influence to not vote.

Collective action is the foundation of democracy. If you're just going to write this off as a "collective action problem" then you write off the entire system. How can you not vote and then complain about what the people who are elected do? They certainly don't represent any choice you made.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

Potowmack, here is an earlier image that shows the stakeholders.

Compared to Yglesias playing with MS Paint and Google Maps:

by selxic on Apr 24, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

If another 2% of registered voters had come out and split their votes between the "progressive" trio then Silverman would have beat Bonds by 2000 votes. It's not a "foregone conclusion."

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

Regional Transit in MD:
Just filled out this nice MDOT survey, a chance to focus on alternative transportation….the survey ends April 30th.

www.mdot.maryland.gov/MTP

by Tina on Apr 24, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

"You and I may vote religiously for Green Party candidates, but we're not going to have any power."

well yes, for someone in a permanent political minority, I can see voting being pointless. I happen to be someone who lives in Va, and is generally supportive of the Dems on the general election ballot - clearly MY cohort has great influence, and our turnout or lack of it matters (which is one reason Va votes very different in presidential election years than in off years)

I was more concerned with the general utilitarian argument on voting, that Dave C appeared to be presenting.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

But really if my neighborhood has 49 mcdonalds cups in road, or 50, does it matter that much?

Yes. That's a 2% increase.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 11:48 am • linkreport

"...if I do not vote because its inconvenient, than how can I expect others no different from me to do so? How can I will for others what I refuse to do myself?"

If you do vote, even though it's inconvenient, you cannot expect others to do so. Those two things are not linked in any way.

You cannot will for others what you refuse to do yourself, because you cannot will for others...period.

As Kyle-W pointed out, the day Frumin refused Silverman's request to step aside is the day progressives lost this election. Everything else is just recriminations.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

I do it because its a civic obligation - both to vote in general and to influence the outcome - not my vote alone

OK, so you dislike doing it less than you dislike not voting. Point still holds. Not everyone feels that way.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

If another 2% of registered voters had come out and split their votes between the "progressive" trio then Silverman would have beat Bonds by 2000 votes.

But they did not.

And if another 2% of registered voters had come out, they would've split their votes between Bonds and Mara, Frumin, Silverman. Again, what you're upset about is that many more voters didn't turn out and coalesce around a progressive candidate. Me too. But I knew that wasn't going to happen yesterday.

If you think that my pulling the lever would have made a difference, or less likely yet, that my failure to vote somehow had any influence on turnout whatsoever, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

"If you do vote, even though it's inconvenient, you cannot expect others to do so. Those two things are not linked in any way."

Expect not as in think will happen, but as in have a moral demand of. Of an expectation of.

"You cannot will for others what you refuse to do yourself, because you cannot will for others...period."

Of course I can. I will an outcome, and that outcome requires action on my part, but also on the part of others. I will that we all achieve change together. I will that others vote. My willing only materially impacts what I do - but my moral willing is not limited by its material impact.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

@thm -- Mara pulled TWICE the votes that Frumin garnered in wards 1, 2, 3, and 6. If Silverman drags away 25% of Mara's vote total in these three wards, she erases the Bonds margin of victory and takes the cheese. Whether you get Mara to drop or have an effective message take 1/4th of his vote to your column, you win either way. No?

by Tom M on Apr 24, 2013 11:58 am • linkreport

As a native Iowan who had a blast in the 2008 Caucus, I will say that it's actually a lot more interesting and enjoyable than simply voting. It lends itself to a huge wave of civic pride because caucusing is really a community action instead of an individual one. It reinforces the feeling of democracy. Voting vs. caucusing is a bit like the difference in how to express support for a team: Contrast wearing a Caps hat in public vs. going to last night's clinching game at the Verizon Center with thousands of fellow fanatics. The caucus was like that, except with politics! Great fun.

That said, it's bizarre that the event has so much national attention and "importance". There's no good reason that Iowans should have such an outsized voice in the primary season, fun methodology or no.

by CapHill on Apr 24, 2013 11:58 am • linkreport

"OK, so you dislike doing it less than you dislike not voting. Point still holds. Not everyone feels that way."

Obviously not everyone understands their ethical obligations (note this is not aimed at people who did not vote in DC yesterday, where arguably the mix of cohorts, as Oboe says, was such that even collective action realisticly wouldnt have mattered). I disagree that the choice to vote or not can be reduced to personal utility - the reason to vote, at all, given the the unlikelihood of one vote changing the outcome, is the likelihood of COLLECTIVE action changing the outcome.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

OK, so this sucks.

What do we do to fix this?

I'm serious. Where do we need to start pushing to make meaningful election reforms happen?

by andrew on Apr 24, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

If you're just going to write this off as a "collective action problem" then you write off the entire system. How can you not vote and then complain about what the people who are elected do? They certainly don't represent any choice you made.

This isn't altogether true. If Anita Bonds was a violent neo-Nazi extremist, or some sort of human-devouring alien life form, I would've voted against her. Regardless of the fact that she was going to win anyway.

As it was, my not voting was an expression of the mildness of my antipathy towards her. She'll be another Vince Orange: basically a low-level rent-seeker with little influence on the council either way. It's unlikely her tenure (or Orange's for that matter) will be very long.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

And if another 2% of registered voters had come out, they would've split their votes between Bonds and Mara, Frumin, Silverman.

Assuming that turnout was spread evenly throughout the wards. Is the group you influence spread out evenly throughout the wards?

If you think that my pulling the lever would have made a difference, or less likely yet, that my failure to vote somehow had any influence on turnout whatsoever, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

We will have to, then, because this is exactly what I think. If you think your actions have zero influence whatsoever on the people you know and vice versa, then I'm not sure what to tell you.

Again, what you're upset about is that many more voters didn't turn out and coalesce around a progressive candidate.

Actually not true; the outcome was what I thought but I don't think it's devastating for the city. What upsets me is people who say "the outcome was a foregone conclusion, I knew what would happen and that did happen, but oh by the way I didn't bother to influence it one way or another."

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 12:02 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity,

That sounds exhausting and very frustrating.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

if everyone took this attitude then we would barely have elections at all.

My point is that many people already have this attitude (90% of voters stayed home, remember). But we still have elections because not every does or will - thanks to the http://www.apa.org/monitor/2008/06/vote.aspx">voter's illusion.

But arguing that because people decide not to vote that somehow what we have is an un-democratic system and that the winners are somehow invalid is - ironically - in and of itself an un-democratic notion. People were given the option to vote, some did and some didn't and they were free to choose which group they were on. Someone won. That winner was democratically elected, and undermining them because of the turnout is equivalent to undermining the democratic process itself. This is democracy and it worked. Calling it something else is an effort to weaken it.

What turnout is required for democracy? Perhaps we should mandate voting. Would that be more democratic?

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

"As it was, my not voting was an expression of the mildness of my antipathy towards her. "

I do beleive your position is rather different from Dave C's, though the way you express it makes it appear that its not.

If Anita Bonds were neo-nazi extremist, its still the case that your one vote would have a vanishingly small chance of influencing the outcome. Even with a larger consequence (and shed be only one council member, who would likely be universally opposed by the others) the expected value of your vote would still likely be less than the time cost of voting, and the possible frustration when she won anway). So youd still be voting, I think, for Kantian rather than utilitarian reasons.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

andrew: does it suck because you don't like the outcome or you don't like the process? If its just the outcome, its time to start working with your favored candidate to get things moving for the next election which is not far away.

by SJE on Apr 24, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

So you believe the politicians are retrograde, corrupt, and include many fools in their ranks. And your suggestions for fundamental and far reaching changes in the electoral process? They would require these same politicians to agree. Don't place any sizable bet there. What about assembling a bigger, better, more effective, more diverse voting bloc? The only way to win is to win under the current rules of the game. But it won't happen without a major sustained effort.

by Tom M on Apr 24, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

I vote because how the hell can you expect to have any sort of influence otherwise?

Volunteer for a campaign. Give money. Drive oboe's vans. In fact, I bet if you didn't vote, but spent that time driving vans full of people who might vote your way to the poll, you'll have MORE influence, not less.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

"My point is that many people already have this attitude (90% of voters stayed home, remember). But we still have elections because not every does or will - thanks to the http://www.apa.org/monitor/2008/06/vote.aspx">voter's illusion."

its not a voters illusion. For many, its an understanding that the likelihood of ones own vote influencing the outcome is not the sum total of ethical considerations tied to the obligation to vote. Ordinary folks may not quote Kant - but they understand the logic of "what if everybody acted like you" You need to spend a lot of time in phil or economics class to unlearn that basic thing.

"But arguing that because people decide not to vote that somehow what we have is an un-democratic system and that the winners are somehow invalid is - ironically - in and of itself an un-democratic notion. People were given the option to vote, some did and some didn't and they were free to choose which group they were on. Someone won. That winner was democratically elected, and undermining them because of the turnout is equivalent to undermining the democratic process itself. This is democracy and it worked. Calling it something else is an effort to weaken it."

its not a binary. An election with 10% turn out, with no voter suppression beyond the current inconvenience of voting in DC, is far better than non-democratic systems. but an election with more voters could be MORE legitimate. I would see this matters more in places where the differences in turnout run more along lines of race and income than in DC.

"What turnout is required for democracy? Perhaps we should mandate voting. Would that be more democratic?"

Mandatory voting exists in some european countries. Other countries have a holiday on election day - or multiday voting - or same day registration. Policies to encourage turn are a legitimate area of discussion, and yes, the goal is to increase the level of democracy.

What does the turnout need to be held down to assure the outcomes that high Tories like George Will prefer?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

@David C
But arguing that because people decide not to vote that somehow what we have is an un-democratic system and that the winners are somehow invalid is - ironically - in and of itself an un-democratic notion.

Not what I'm saying; that's what Jasper was saying and I disagreed with him above. I don't think a certain turnout is necessary for a "democratic" result.

What I was disagreeing with is your assertion that voting is somehow like cheering at a football game. Every vote does have an effect, however minuscule, because if nobody voted then there would be no result. The value of one individual vote may be close to zero but it is non-zero.

I find it funny that you reject this argument but accepted the idea that one person's litter has an effect even if everyone else is littering.

Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

That said, it's bizarre that the event has so much national attention and "importance".

It's bizarre (and wrong) that it counts at all. It may be fun, but it should have no more importance than the state fair straw poll. Primaries much more accurately measure voter desires, so why would we knowingly do something less accurate? THAT is un-democratic.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 12:15 pm • linkreport

"Volunteer for a campaign. Give money. Drive oboe's vans. In fact, I bet if you didn't vote, but spent that time driving vans full of people who might vote your way to the poll, you'll have MORE influence, not less."

more influence, but also more cost. I doubt the ratio is much better. And they are far from mutually exclusive - my general sense is that folks who do volunteer work on campaigns are MUCH more inclined to vote - not less. Largely because their entire approach to civic activism in general, and their cause in particular, is NOT based on utilitarian calculation.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 12:16 pm • linkreport

I expected this outcome as well and it crossed my mind not to bother to vote yesterday, but what drove me to vote was wanting to add one more vote for the type of candidate I am interested in seeing on the Council. I want to encourage those types of candidates to continue to run with the hope that in a few more election cycles, one of them will be able to win. I think that was worth the time I spent voting yesterday. (Plus, I actually really enjoy voting.)

by Laura on Apr 24, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

"I find it funny that you reject this argument but accepted the idea that one person's litter has an effect even if everyone else is littering"

the global warming example is even more on point. The permafrost will either melt, or it wont. the odds of my personal GHG output changing the result are small. Indeed the odds of a single one of the policies many of us support changing that are small. Indeed, if every single policy for greater DC proposed here - more cycling, greener buildings, smaller houses, more transit, etc were ALL passed - the likelihood that that would change whether or not the permafrost melts is very small. which is why those who look at life from a utility calculation POV just do what they like, and do not consider the global ramifications of it. The increasing numbers who do, are clearly thinking differently - they are willing a change beyond the actions under their own control, but are acting in ways consistent with that willing.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

"what if everybody acted like you"

Budweiser would go out of business. But that is a stupid freaking question. Because people don't. They won't.

It is you who are demanding that everyone act like you - vote even when it's largely pointless, because they should all have your opinions and your values. They don't. What if everyone acted like you and demanded that everyone hold only their values. Some people would rather stay home and spend time with their kids then take part in what is likely a fruitless enterprise - tell me who's values are out of whack.

People may not share your values. But that doesn't mean this vote should be ignored as Jasper suggested. It's the legal, democratic result of a pretty damned accessible election and if you think it should be ignored anyway then I don't know what you think democracy is, but I don't want any part of it. People have fought and died for our right to vote, and I'd do the same for you right to not vote.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

its not a binary.

No. It is. A vote is legitimate or it is not. There are no gradation of legitimacy.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

Policies to encourage turn are a legitimate area of discussion

Agreed. If you think turnout was held down because of policies - outside of mandatory voting - then I'd like to discuss those, but I hardly see how the turnout would go up by much at all. Nor do I see the outcome being any different.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

What does the turnout need to be held down to assure the outcomes that high Tories like George Will prefer?

You need to ask George Will I suppose.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

If its just the outcome, its time to start working with your favored candidate to get things moving for the next election which is not far away.

Good point. If you all were rational creatures, we'd consider this go-round the IRV, and everyone would either vote for Silverman or Bonds in the next primary. Of course, you're not so we won't. Shame on you. :P

In any case, if the next primary doesn't consist of 15 progressives with essentially the same platform facing off against one lobbyist for the city's highway contractor (who happens to be an elderly black woman), I *will* vote in the next primary.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 12:29 pm • linkreport

I don't think expressing "if you care about the outcome you should probably vote" is shoving your values down anyone's throats.

This "I didn't vote because vote splitting" makes about as much sense as the people advocating for "bullet voting" during the last pick-2 council election. If you don't care about the outcome then just say that.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 12:29 pm • linkreport

It sucks because the will of the people is distorted. It's the same thing that sucks (as a non-party affiliated voter) about not being able to cast a meaningful vote for mayor. If I write to my council member about changing this through electoral reform, I think he would say "tough shit....I am part of this system, and it keeps me in power."

by aaa on Apr 24, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

"Budweiser would go out of business. But that is a stupid freaking question. Because people don't. They won't."

its not a consequentialist argument - that they wont is irrelevant to whether they should.

"It is you who are demanding that everyone act like you - vote even when it's largely pointless, because they should all have your opinions and your values.'

Im not asking everyone to have my values. Some people do not value democracy. Just as some people do not share my views of global warming. Or maybe you prefer democracy, but dont care who gets into office. Then I have no argument for you to vote. My argument is only directed towards those who DO value democracy, AND who value a particular outcome, but who choose not to vote because the cost exceeds the expected value of their particular vote - and who hope that others who are "under an illusion" will vote and achieve the outcome they desire. Im not asking anyone to have different values - Im asking people to act to express their own values - to act AS IF their choice of a particular decision rule caused everyone else to share that decision rule - because to do otherwise, is to 'count on the suckers' whether its to stand in line to vote, to refrain from littering, to minimize GHGs, or many other things.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

The permafrost will either melt, or it wont.

When it melts matters too. The longer that can be pushed out the more time we have to fix it. So, it's not at all the same. And the policies we pursue to delay that matter too. Elections are different. They're winner take all and they have a set end point. So I reject the notion that voting is like recycling. My vote will almost always have zero value (as will cheering at a football game - although sometimes cheering probably does change the outcome, same as voting). Recycling always has a non-zero value. That's a big difference.

BTW, I'm not advocating not voting. I always vote and I voted yesterday for all the same reasons you did. But I at least understand why not everyone does and I don't run around calling them unethical people who don't care about the city and have no right to expect good leaders. They haven't got a very good reason to vote. That doesn't make them bad people - and it doesn't make you and I American heroes. It just means we have different values.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

"Agreed. If you think turnout was held down because of policies - outside of mandatory voting - then I'd like to discuss those, but I hardly see how the turnout would go up by much at all. Nor do I see the outcome being any different."

In NoVa I would like governor and legislative elections shifted from off years to on years - ideally presidential years, but Id be okay with midterm elections. Id also like longer voter hours, or allowing universal absentee voting. Id drop the voter ID stuff.

I would also be interested in constitutional ways that would lessen negative campaigning. And stronger local parties (real political party competition would probably help in DC - as would not having special elections on their lonesome from other elections)

Im not sure why mandatory voting has to be excluded - it has disadvantages, but I think it should be on the table.

And this is not a policyh - but I think changing the political culture from one that emphasizes individual interest, to one more aligned toward collective interests, would matter. I suspect the greater focus on class solidarity european politics is one reason for their higher turnout.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

Oboe: Not everyone has to be a rational creature to get the desired result. If those who liked a specific candidate volunteered, they can build momentum and make it easier for everyone else to get on board.

PS: how did this thread get into a discussion about the rules of logic and GHG?

by SJE on Apr 24, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

who hope that others who are "under an illusion" will vote and achieve the outcome they desire.

I don't think anyone does that. People who want an outcome and don't vote have resigned themselves to the fact that the actual outcome is already decided. They aren't hoping. They know.

to do otherwise, is to 'count on the suckers'

I disagree. To only vote when the outcome appears to be in question is just another form of strategic voting. Do you feel like a sucker? I don't.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

"BTW, I'm not advocating not voting. I always vote and I voted yesterday for all the same reasons you did."

I did not vote yesterday. That would have been illegal, as I am resident of Fairfax.

The reason I vote is not based on my belief that my vote has a non-zero chance of influencing the outcome. its based on Kantian ethical imperative. if you are not a kantian, you are not voting for the reasons I do.

" But I at least understand why not everyone does and I don't run around calling them unethical people who don't care about the city and have no right to expect good leaders."

I have not called anyone that. First off, in yesterdays voting, Oboes argument applies - IE even IF everyone in a similar position to "me" did vote it still wouldnt have mattered. At least thats arguably true. Second, I don't hold all the folks who think in terms of purely utilitarian calculations on voting unethical for doing so - they live in a culture that in many ways discourages them from understanding that there are different ways from looking at things - esp in regard to politics - as I said, many of them DO act in other parts of their lives out of a more "Kantian outlook".

"They haven't got a very good reason to vote. That doesn't make them bad people - and it doesn't make you and I American heroes. It just means we have different values."

For those who DO care about the outcome (which is clearly not everyone) they do have a good reason to vote.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

"I don't think anyone does that. People who want an outcome and don't vote have resigned themselves to the fact that the actual outcome is already decided. They aren't hoping. They know."

I live in fairfax virginia. We had a congressional campaign in 2010 that came down to the wire. Yet many people did not vote. Even in the 2012 election (which was expected to be close in Va, and it was at least possible going in that Va would be decisve) many did not vote. I am not speaking about people who dont vote during a landslide election. But those who never vote because they beleive (correctly) that even in a tight election their SINGLE vote probably wont count.

My vote for Gerry Connolly did not decide the 2010 election - which was decided by more than one vote. But it was far from a foregone conclusion who would win, even well after the polls closed.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

In NoVa I would like...

Not relevant to this election, but a good ideas.

real political party competition would probably help in DC

Right. IRV.

as would not having special elections on their lonesome from other elections

Not sure how you could've fixed this. Wait for 18 months?

Im not sure why mandatory voting has to be excluded

Because of y'know....freedom.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

Thanks to AWalkerintheCity and David C et al. for the dialogue.

I imagine that if we are trying to understand why some people do and do not vote, all of these perspectives probably account for some fraction of how people think.

I am glad that some people just vote because it is the right thing to do, and our duty. So many people have sacrificed so much. Some things you just need to do because you are a citizen.

I must admit, however, that this all reminds me of all the other things that I was taught that a good person does, and I am feeling a little bit guilty about the beggars to whom I gave no money this week, and missing church the last several Sundays, and...

by JimT on Apr 24, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

"In NoVa I would like...
Not relevant to this election, but a good ideas."

sometime back someone made a general assertion that voting is like cheering the redskins.

"as would not having special elections on their lonesome from other elections"

Not sure how you could've fixed this. Wait for 18 months?

yes.

"Im not sure why mandatory voting has to be excluded

Because of y'know....freedom."

Because australia and luxembourg are unfree? because going to a poll once every two years is more burdensome than, say, conscription?

The maintenance of a democratic society just might involve some small sacrifice of freedom.

but thats academic - it isnt on the table anywhere in the US, for the same reason Va has its elections in offyears, for the same reason we have such limited voting hours, for the same reason we had a voter id brouhaha, for the same reason campaign finance reform is resisted. There are interested that do not want greater democratization.

Once upon a time they would have openly supported a property based suffrage (their ideological ancestors did) Thats not acceptable today, so they try to achieve a similar result by different means.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

@Oboe - you are one of the best readers on here, but come on, manne, you gotta vote.

Took all of 30 seconds yesterday to vote.

by H Street LL on Apr 24, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

In certain fraternal organizations, the members are required to vote.

A few years back at a board meeting for a daycare where i had my toddlers, we were voting on a large increase in the fee. All families were members of the board, and most were there. One person abstained; I felt that this was massive cop-out. This was a crucial decision involving major trade-offs, and we needed the input from everybody.

Voting may not be mandatory, but to not do it should be well justified.

by goldfish on Apr 24, 2013 1:18 pm • linkreport

[Hiring vans and driving people to the polls would give you] more influence, but also more cost. I doubt the ratio is much better.

This is how it's done. You don't influence elections by voting ostentatiously; you influence elections by putting large numbers of people who wouldn't otherwise vote (e.g. elderly folks) in a van, telling them who to vote for, and driving them to the polls.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

@goldfish - One person abstained; I felt that this was massive cop-out. This was a crucial decision involving major trade-offs, and we needed the input from everybody.

Did you have to meet a quorom or something? Did you value this particular person's insight or perspective more than that of the other participants? An abstention in that sort of situation tacitly says "whatever you guys decide is fine with me." The social politics of participation in a small voluntary group like a board is quite different from a general election, too.

It would be nice if more people were informed and cared to vote, but mandatory voting in even local elections will yield even more of "But I’m a Democrat. So I voted for — who was it? — Anita." That's not to say someone who votes on limited information is casting an invalid vote, but if your goal is to "improve" the democratic process on any metric beyond participation, I don't think mandating just participation gets you there.

by worthing on Apr 24, 2013 1:34 pm • linkreport

"State law requires manufacturers to sell cars through a dealer..."

Can someone explain the purpose of that state law? Surely there must be some purported benefit other than merely to protect conventional dealerships from competition. If not, we need to repeal that law; we can always protect conventional dealerships by raising the annual tax on electric cars again.

And can someone explain how to italicize, in case my attempt didn't work? Thanks!

by Ryan on Apr 24, 2013 1:42 pm • linkreport

The social politics of participation in a small voluntary group like a board is quite different from a general election, too.

The abstainer was the treasurer, and was quite active in the discussion before the vote. Our kids were at stake, as was the viability of the center; this was up against a very large bite out of everybody's wallet. It was a cop-out because it was important to know how people stood; everybody else voted.

Yes in small groups the game is a bit different, but the principle remains.

by goldfish on Apr 24, 2013 1:52 pm • linkreport

voting is like cheering the redskins.

Not me. Those two things are very different, because I don't think voting makes you a bad person.

As far as waiting 18 months, I'm not sure how having a seat be empty or filled by the DSSC is more democratic than an open election. Perhaps you could explain.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 1:59 pm • linkreport

Because australia and luxembourg are unfree? because going to a poll once every two years is more burdensome than, say, conscription?

As you put it, freedom isn't binary. So, they're less free than the US in this respect. And then worthing has an excellent point on this. You can make people vote, but you can't make them be informed.

I also think conscription is wrong. If people have a right to have a gun, they should certainly have a right to not have a gun.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 2:03 pm • linkreport

Had she not performed the NH scene from the Crying Game

Wait, Hillary Clinton is a man?

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 2:11 pm • linkreport

@ David C:There are no gradation of legitimacy.

Legally, you are correct. Morally, you are wrong.

Turn-out and margin of victory matter.

Legitimacy is very grey. With a 10% turn-out, you have 10% legitimacy. And a 10% democratic process. That is not a lot.

by Jasper on Apr 24, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

keeping the seat open would mean decisions would be made by council members elected in regular elections with higher turnout.

Freedom isnt binary. Sure. We give up small freedoms to live together in society. That does not put things that limit freedom in a small way off the table. I thought you meant that this was such an infringement of freedom that it puts it off the table. Perhaps I misread you. You may disagree with conscription - but its something we had in the past, and we mostly do not have it now because militaries work differently than they did (and we sort of do have it now - if you a member of the military, you can be kept in past the date your enlistment ends, against your will).

as for being informed, I am dubious of the value of things that reduce the turnout of the "uninformed". That is again, one of the arguments that Mr Will and others like him regularly put forward for more difficult registration procedures, etc. If you have a model of politics largely involving class interest, then detailed information on specifics of a given election may not even be that necessary. Of course folks on the right desperately want to prevent a politics based on class solidarity (politics of envy, they call it) at least when that class solidarity is not on the part of the wealthy.

But again, the question of mandatory voting is academic. The powers that be would fight it tooth and nail.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 24, 2013 2:16 pm • linkreport

You are one of the best readers on here, but come on, manne, you gotta vote.

Not to muddy the waters, but I was planning on voting, but procrastinated during the early voting phase, then got stuck between a 3 hour round-trip bike commute and unexpected child care duties. Everybody's got an excuse.

Next time I'll pledge to vote--if for no other reason than not to fall afoul of any categorical imperatives.

by oboe on Apr 24, 2013 2:18 pm • linkreport

I don't think mandatory voting will ever happen here, nor do I think it should. We should make it easy to vote and honestly the way the US works it would be harder to implement (other countries have more government ID/papers laws).

I think it's fine that people who can't be bothered to care about politics or issues don't vote. It does irk me when people who are informed and do care, and therefore probably should be voting, don't for silly reasons.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 2:19 pm • linkreport

Not to muddy the waters, but I was planning on voting, but procrastinated during the early voting phase, then got stuck between a 3 hour round-trip bike commute and unexpected child care duties. Everybody's got an excuse.

The truth! You ARE actually an upstanding citizen.

This is a much better reason not to than "rargh vote splitting!"

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 2:22 pm • linkreport

I would fully support a ballot initiative in line with WA and CA's top two open primary system.

Why isn't there more local support for a solution to vote splitting?

by Jer on Apr 24, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

The abstainer was the treasurer, and was quite active in the discussion before the vote. Our kids were at stake, as was the viability of the center; this was up against a very large bite out of everybody's wallet. It was a cop-out because it was important to know how people stood; everybody else voted.

That's not really parallel to any public election in the US, since votes are confidential by default and there's no requirement for disclosure. (And I don't really know why it was truly important to know how everyone stood, unless you wanted to know who to keep off the invite list for your next barbecue, but I get it.)

by worthing on Apr 24, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

There's a pretty bright line between not supporting mandatory voting and supporting voter suppression. So don't group me in with those in the second group just because we both think that voting is better if voters are informed.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

Mara: nice in theory. Failure in practice.

by JustMe on Apr 24, 2013 3:33 pm • linkreport

Pat Mara isn't that far off from Jack Evans' positions.

I don't like Jack Evans either.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 3:37 pm • linkreport

Australia has mandatory voting, but also has no draft and allows drinking at age 18 (younger if accompanied by an adult) Now tell me that Australia is less free?

by SJE on Apr 24, 2013 4:08 pm • linkreport

@ David C:unless you think there was voter suppression.

How about the requirement to register? In many states it is getting harder and harder to register.
[I will admit here that DC has a very high registration, for American standards]

In many countries, there is no need to register. The government knows who you are and where you live, and sends your voting card there.

by Jasper on Apr 24, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

mandatory voting

Belgium has mandatory voting. There is a small fine, and your voting rights could be taken away if you don't show up repeatedly (is that a penalty?) but it is not enforced.

It does set a notion though that people should go and vote. They do in very high numbers. However messy the outcome, you can never question the legitimacy of Belgian elections.

by Jasper on Apr 24, 2013 4:25 pm • linkreport

In many countries, there is no need to register. The government knows who you are and where you live, and sends your voting card there.

Right - the US does not have this kind of ID/paper law so the government does not know who you are and where you live. There is no real way to automatically register people to vote.

In places where registration is easy (and especially where you can register at the polls) registration is high and turnout is high. DC is one of those places. Those are the best practices to emulate everywhere in the US.

by MLD on Apr 24, 2013 4:36 pm • linkreport

I think it's fine if they think of a good way to incentivize voting, but making it mandatory or penalizing it will never fly whatever the merits might be. Just give everyone a free slice of pizza or something. I mean that might even turn out the college age population.

by Alan B. on Apr 24, 2013 4:37 pm • linkreport

I've always wondered why a reporter hasn't asked (to my knowledge) a politician in favor of strong voter ID laws and claims its because he believes in voter integrity and not disenfranchisment why the US can't just use the purple ink method that was instituted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

by drumz on Apr 24, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

@MLD
For what it's worth, the Oregon state legislature is considering a bill for automatic registration which ties it to the DMV. Get or update a license and you'll be automatically registered at your new address, with a confirmation card mailed to that address. New registrants will be given no party affiliation, and the confirmation card will give them the option of affiliation with a party. Oregon (and Washington) is already an all vote-by-mail state.

by Distantantennas on Apr 24, 2013 4:45 pm • linkreport

drumz, the politicians in favor of strong voter ID laws aren't the sorts of people who will look to Afghanistan or Iraq best practices regarding elections or anything else for that matter.

by TakomaNick on Apr 24, 2013 4:47 pm • linkreport

@worthing why it was truly important to know how everyone stood, unless you wanted to know who to keep off the invite list for your next barbecue...

It was important to render a decision, and either dig a lot deeper into our pockets or close the center. Future party invitations were forthcoming regardless of how the vote went as there were strong arguments either way. But this was not a situation where a person can passively-aggressively say 'hey guys, whatever you decide' so that one may later place blame if it did not go well.

For that reason voting is a duty, not a right. Consider jury duty: not voting is not an option, because after hearing the evidence decision MUST be delivered, so that the matter can be settled.

by goldfish on Apr 24, 2013 5:17 pm • linkreport

"68% of voters rejected Anita Bonds yesterday. Long live Council Member Anita Bonds. "

"To be fair, over 72% of voters rejected Silverman yesterday, using that logic."

Actually, that's not fair, since I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts that 32% was close to Anita's ceiling. In a two-way race with any other candidate, that's what she would get. Two-way race between Silverman and anyone, Elissa gets the majority.

In other words, Anita would not be the second choice of any Silverman, Mara, or Frumin voters, but Silverman would probably be the second choice of a large majority of Frumin voters and probably a decent chunk of Mara voters.

Also, Bonds was the sitting council member, so yeah, all the votes for her opponent were a more genuine rejection of her than were her opponents' lost votes.

by Ward 1 Guy on Apr 24, 2013 6:49 pm • linkreport

Actually, that's not fair, since I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts that 32% was close to Anita's ceiling. In a two-way race with any other candidate, that's what she would get. Two-way race between Silverman and anyone, Elissa gets the majority.

In other words, Anita would not be the second choice of any Silverman, Mara, or Frumin voters, but Silverman would probably be the second choice of a large majority of Frumin voters and probably a decent chunk of Mara voters.

That's a bit of a stretch, Ward 1 Guy. I think Bonds would be the second choice of many of the actual DC Republicans - they would prefer her, someone willing to do bidness, to hippie progressives like Silverman or Frumin.

Also, 32% is definitely not Bonds' ceiling - in a straight-up partisan race against Mara (and, fine, Redd), you would see plenty of progressives who would absolutely refuse to vote for a Republicans and would vote for Bonds instead. A Republican is not beating a Democrat straight up in DC.

If Bonds were facing Silverman in a two-way race... I think it would end up being a re-run of Gray v. Fenty, only with the white liberals that MIchelle Rhee alienated voting for Elissa and the conservatives who stuck with Fenty going for Bonds. You woud also have seen The Machine rise up and marshall all of its resources in self-defense. An special election with (predictably) minuscule turnout is one thing; if Bonds were coming under a serious progressive challenge, you wouldn't just see robocalls by Jack Evans and the Mayor-For-Life, but by Orange, Graham, and maybe even Alexander and Bowser as well. Elissa's relatively amateurish operation would've been buried under a sea of corporate cash.

by Dizzy on Apr 24, 2013 7:24 pm • linkreport

Now tell me that Australia is less free?

When it comes to your freedom to vote or not, it is less free.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 8:59 pm • linkreport

How about the requirement to register? In many states it is getting harder and harder to register.
[I will admit here that DC has a very high registration, for American standards]

We're talking about DC here, so I think you've answered your own question. But imagine that voting was as easy as you would like it to be, what would turn out have been then. I haven't heard anyone complaining about wanting to vote and being unable to do so. So, I doubt registration did much to suppress THIS vote.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 9:11 pm • linkreport

However messy the outcome, you can never question the legitimacy of Belgian elections.

Nor can one legitimately question the legitimacy of this one. Even though you did.

by David C on Apr 24, 2013 9:12 pm • linkreport

In 2014 won't there be a Democratic primary and a general? The primary will be the big draw where Gray will run for re-election and the general will be low turnout.

So Silverman will have another shot at Bonds in 18 months and if Bonds were to win the primary on Gray's coattails, Mara will probably be the GOP nominee in the general. ( I doubt Mara could beat Silverman in a general).

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 25, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or