Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Putting "Da Mock" In Democracy

"First, there is a mountain
"Then there is no mountain
"Then there is."
-- Donovan

One of the problems with "get out the vote" is convincing people that their vote actually matters.  Oh, philosophically, it's an easy sell.  But if you apply cold, hard math to it, anyone who 1) votes for anyone other than the candidate who won and 2) anyone who voted for the candidate who won after they got the number of votes needed to win has, as a matter of practicality, wasted their vote.  But we continue to dream of ONE VOTE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.  So much so that we have twice made movies that gin up scenarios where this is true (The Great Man Votes in 1939 and Swing Vote in 2008).  But that's fiction.  It'll never happen in real life.

And then it does.

Welcome to Columbia, Missouri.  Business leaders in the area wanted the town to impose a half-cent sales tax hike.  The voters made it abundantly clear they thought this was bullshit and wouldn't vote for it.  So, the city council, with the backing of its business buddies, turned to that old political standby, gerrymandering.  See, under Missouri state law, if no registered voters live within a district, the property owners within the district get to vote instead.  And so, in April, they created a Community Improvement District and made sure that there were no registered voters living within the tortuous boundaries.  Everything was set for the property owners to vote in August and get their tax increase.

And now, the punchline -- they missed one person.

There is exactly one registered voter living in the district they drew up.  Which means, after all that work and wheeling and dealing, under Missouri law, this one person gets to decide whether or not their tax increase goes through.

Our lucky individual who gets to stick it to The Man is one Jen Henderson, a 23 year old student at the University Of Missouri.  Henderson told the Columbia Daily Tribune that CID leaders have been contacting her and "encouraging" her to "unregister" or simply not vote at all, which will move the decision back to the property owners' hands.  She called their actions "manipulative."  Ya think?  That said, she still hasn't decided which way she'll vote.  I'd vote against it just for the laughs, knowing that I would become a folk hero to all my fellow political wonks around the land.  It's like if House Of Cards was done by SNL.

Like Cecil Adams wrote, "Hey, we're always serious here.  It's REALITY that's the joke!"

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