Is America Finally Ready to Abandon the Electoral College and Embrace the Popular Vote
US presidential elections are frequently the butt of jokes worldwide, and deservedly so. Between the eye-popping fundraising totals, the awkward pandering to billionaires, and the shameless jockeying for the support of key interest groups in weird places like Iowa and New Hampshire, there’s a lot to hate.
Much of this can be blamed on the electoral college. Instead of simply counting votes nationwide and giving the Oval Office to the guy or gal with the most ballots, America holds 50 statewide elections, then awards points called “electors” to the winner of each election. It’s a confusing system that makes winning 51 percent of the votes in California more than ten times as valuable as winning 100 percent of the votes in Nebraska, and gives special status to the few swing states that could go either way. Standard practice nowadays is for candidates to camp out in the dozen or so of these key states, which enjoy special status because their cities are surrounded by dense, conservative suburbs that balance out the votes of liberal urbanites. This means millions of voters are effectively stuck on the margins of political life, and thanks to our system we risk disaster every four years.
George W. Bush’s incredible non-victory in 2000—which came, of course, thanks to an assist from his dad’s pals on the Supreme Court—may be the the most recent example, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the twisted intrigue that the electoral college has encouraged over the years. After the 1876 election saw the electors go one way and the popular vote the other, the “compromise” that was reached set the stage for a flood of Jim Crow laws and racial terrorism into the American South, as a key concession from the Republicans was to remove occupying federal troops that had been in the former Confederate states since the Civil War.
We’d Like More Webbys, Please!
Every year around this time, the Webby Awards announce their nominees, and we happen to be one of these nominees. But in order to win, we need your votes. We know the internet is confusing, so here are some handy FAQs to help you make sure we get the Webbys we deserve.
You: What’s a Webby?
VICE: A Webby is an award that’s given to websites. This year we’ve been nominated in eight categories.
Cool. Have you ever actually won any?
Yes, we have a modest amount of Webbys that we keep on a shelf (see above photo). We’re currently looking for a bigger shelf. But that comes down to you. Unlike the charades that are the Academy Awards and the US presidential election, your vote actually matters. You like (love?) us, right? So vote for us!
VICE is up for Webbys in four categories: In Saddam’s Shadow and Sisa: Cocaine of the Poor for best Individual Episode in the News and Politics category, Child Workers of the World Unite for best Individual Episode in the Documentary category, Far Out for best Long Form in the Branded Entertainment category, and the VICE Mobile App for best Handheld Device App in the Entertainment category.
If you include our extended family, we’re up for a few more: Motherboard’s Click. Print. Gun. for best Individual Episode in the Documentary category, Noisey’s Guitar Moves for best Unscripted in the Branded Entertainment category, The Creators Project for best Art in the General Website category, The Creators Project’s The Collaborators for best Music in the Online Film & Video category, and The Creators Project’s This Must Be the Only Fantasy for best Scripted in the Branded Entertainment category.
I enjoy voting for people and things. How do I vote?
Head over to the Webby Awards site. Then register to vote with Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or any email account.
OK, now what?
Click on each of the links below to jump directly to the categories we’re nominated in:
-Online Film & Video: Documentary: Individual Episode: (Motherboard/VICE Media: “Click, Print, Gun”)
-Online Film & Video: Documentary: Individual Episode: (VICE Media: “Child Workers of the World Unite”)
-Online Film & Video: Branded Entertainment Long Form: (VICE Media: The Creators Project)
-Online Film & Video: Branded Entertainment Long Form: (VICE Media: “Far Out”)
-Online Film & Video: News & Politics: Individual Episode: (VICE Media: “Sisa: Cocaine of the Poor”)
-Online Film & Video: News & Politics: Individual Episode: (VICE Media: “In Saddam’s Shadow”)
-Online Film & Video: Music: (VICE Media: “The Collaborators”)
-Online Film & Video: Branded Entertainment Scripted: (VICE Media: “This Must Be the Only Fantasy”)
-Online Film & Video: Branded Entertainment Unscripted: (VICE Media/Noisey: “Guitar Moves”)
-Web: Art: VICE Media: “The Creators Project”
-Mobile & Apps: Entertainment: (VICE Media: VICE Mobile App)
To cast your vote, click your choice and click again to confirm. If you see a voting tally with percentage, you have voted successfully, and we love you.
Yeah, sure. Anyways, something’s been bugging me, and I gotta ask—why does a Webby look like a duck penis?
When you win a Webby, they tell you why. But it’s a secret.
The male duck dick is quite the evolutionary feat. Did you know it helps facilitate rape on unsuspecting female ducks? Besides, aren’t award ceremonies all about who has the biggest dick anyway?
Whatever, guy. Just go vote for us.
Robert Mugabe Won the Zimbabwe Elections, Again
Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean-hero-cum-tireless-dictator, is undoubtedly toasting the gods after claiming a 61 percent majority in last week’s presidential elections. And the cherry on the top of his seventh consecutive win was that his Zanu-PF party also emerged victorious, winning 160 out of a possible 210 parliamentary seats.
The election process was deemed free and fair by observers from both the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Committee (SADC). But the main opposition party, MDC-T, are crying foul play, with leader Morgan Tsvangirai labeling the elections “a huge farce” and the results “null and void.”
Tsvangirai’s party accuse Zanu-PF of rigging the votes and intimidating people into electing Mugabe for another five-year term. A large section of the public also believe this, a local domestic worker telling me, “My friends in Masvingo, they have said that they voted Zanu-PF. They were too scared of what might happen to them if they don’t. They don’t want the violence we saw last time.”
The Voting Rights Act Is a Mess, but We Still Need It
The Supreme Court ruled today that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which said that some (mostly Southern) states and communities in the US had to ask the federal government for permission to change their voting rules and procedures, was unconstitutional. The majority of the court held that while the South used to be hella racist back in the 60s, things are now way more chill, thanks in part to the VRA, so the law doesn’t need to exist in its current form. Right-wingers celebrated this as a victory for federalsim (or whatever), while the MSNBC crowd mourned this as the destruction of one of the most important laws of the Civil Rights era—an NAACP official said, “Today will be remembered as a step backwards in the march towards equal rights.”
Now, I don’t think that every single person who opposes Section 4 is a racist. I know it’s not fun being called a racist. When I was in sixth grade, I was accused of being a Nazi because I was making a picture of B.J. Blazkowicz, the hero from Wolfenstein 3D, busting a cap in a Nazi’s ass. To portray this accurately, I had to draw the Nazi’s swastika armband, and according to some of my classmates, this made me Nazi. My teachers, fortunately, didn’t take any of this seriously because at 12 I looked like a rabbi in a Tazmanian Devil T-shirt. The following week, another kid wore highwaters to school and that took the heat off me.
You know what’s worse than being accused of racism, though? Having racism directed at you, which is something that happens in the United States fairly frequently. There were 2,924 racially-motivated hate crimes in 2011, the most recent year statistics are available for, and there was an actual lynching of an African-American in Texas as recently as 1998.
More statistics: According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 84 percent of white Americans approved of interracial marriage. But, framed another way, 16 percent of whites disapprove of interracial marriage. You can slice off part of the population, like Mississippians. Another survey, this one from Public Policy Polling, found that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans, unbelievably, think that whites shouldn’t be allowed to marry blacks. That is some old-timey racism, of the sort that isn’t that uncommon in Mississippi—which is the whole reason the VRA exists in the first place.