Splitting votes

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

As a self-confessed, dyed-in-the-wool conservative, I'm always exploring ways for our government to spend less and save more. Given the current political climate, I fear I may be in the extreme minority.

But the "spend like there's no tomorrow" political approach does not deter me from trying to chisel a few bucks off the deficit -- or at least so in my mind.

So here's a practical, never-before-considered approach that will save just a few coins, but at least it's a beginning.

Here's how it works.

We all know friends or colleagues who have the polar opposite political views from our own. If you supported Proposition C, for example, you can rest assured they were opposed. If you plan on casting a ballot for Roy Blunt, without a doubt your friend will vote for Robin Carnahan.

You get the trend.

So the end result is that you and your friend cancel each other's vote. The notion of going to the voting booth knowing your vote will surely be canceled by your friend's vote is somehow unsettling.

Thus I make the following proposal.

Find a friend with whom you share this political juggernaut. Agree -- pinkie-swear if you must -- that neither will cast a ballot in that particular election cycle. Obviously the end result of the election outcome will not be changed. And that's when the financial benefits start to mount.

Given the virtual even split on so many issues today, I could foresee thousands upon thousands of political opposites taking advantage of this new approach, and thus, thousands upon thousands fewer votes would have to be counted.

We would need far fewer election judges, fewer voting precincts, etc. Surely there's a savings there.

This "polar pairing" undoubtedly would have other savings as well. Less miles driven to the polling precincts, less time involved in counting ballots, etc.

Under this far-fetched and strictly nonrealistic plan, I could envision some future election where 98 percent of the voters found their "match" and a handful of people actually decided an election. How about a national election where the total final outcome is Obama 389, Romney 432?

The single aspect of this scheme that makes it workable is the current political climate. On so many issues of the day, national polls indicate 48 percent support, 47 percent oppose. So doesn't it make some sense -- in purely fantasy ways -- to stop the folly and find your match?

What makes it somewhat unworkable is that it requires trust, a commodity sorely missing in the political arena today.

This plan is somewhat akin to a hockey fight. Have you ever noticed in many hockey fisticuffs that players from opposing teams find someone to pair up with and they simply hold on while watching the real fight between those two combatants who can't seem to resolve their differences any other way?

Mind you, I am not comparing politics and hockey fights. As we all know, hockey fights are much more civilized.

Granted, this idea will gain no traction whatsoever and is designed purely to fill this column and nothing more. But judging from some of the reactions to this column from time to time, I suspect I could easily find my polar opposite and save myself and someone else some time and effort come November.

Any takers?

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