My ebook: Journeys with the caterpillar

My ebook
Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores
and Sumba, Indonesia
" is available at
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Friday, January 04, 2008

Polls are back again

This is poll season with polls happening in major countries and provinces worldwide. Thailand, Russia, Korea, Australia, Kenya and key states in India have already had their polls. Pakistan, Georgia and Taiwan are about to have their polls and the big one of the season, US is having a series of poll related events starting January. More importantly, almost every country in the world will witness a series of polls as a deluge of shows with American Idol-like formats plead viewers to send their votes through their phones.

Polls and the activities around polling such as campaigning have become increasingly sophisticated. Modern equipments such as Electronic Voting Machines in India can make voting an interesting experience. Similarly, campaigns have become extremely forward and backward looking as shown by Hillary Clinton’s team which dug out an essay written in his kindergarten days by Barack Obama to show that he is a poor choice. Worldwide, candidates in most mature democracies appeal to voters with irrelevant stuff: hyperbole, good looks with $400 haircuts, and prepared jokes. Soon, we may have more relevant information to decide our preferred candidate: whether they have halitosis, whether they scratch groins in public, or whether they make slurping noise while drinking tea.

But despite so many polls happening all around, there remain several issues with the conduct of these polls. For example, if you consider the US presidential elections, only American citizens are allowed to vote for the same. One can argue that US governmental policies have a far greater impact on citizens of Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, and Columbia than the citizens of US themselves. So when can people of these countries vote for US government and will gay marriages be the most important issue for them?

And consider the “first past the post” system as in India and American Idol, where a candidate with even less than 10% of popular vote can end up representing the entire sample. And remember, the biggest flaw of all polls is that they discriminate against the lazy, those who don’t bother to vote, by ignoring their opinion.

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