Posted by: mdmusingsie | February 5, 2016

Three Weeks!

Only three weeks (and two days) from the day the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny had President Higgins declare the dissolution of the Dáil (parliament or roughly Senate equivalent) until Election Day (February 26th). Only three weeks! What a large percentage of American’s wouldn’t give to only have an election period of three weeks.

Can you imagine – only three weeks worth of flyers – how many trees could be spared? Only three weeks of radio (which are few and far between here, thankfully). Just three weeks of cleaning your TV screen after each round of mudslinging (which, by the way is also at a bare minimum here, the gods be praised!). It would be like an answer to prayer.

I so do not miss all the attack ads, voice snippets taken and twisted well out of context, and what, in some cases, turns out to be outright lies, that goes on during an election in the United States.

Think of all the hungry that could be fed, the homeless that could be housed, and the developing countries that could be introduced to enterprisation with the Billions (yes, that Billions with a B) of dollars that would be saved on a U.S. Presidential election if it were shortened to even three months instead of three years as it has been of late. (As a side note, I’m not quite sure whether enterprisation is a real word – Google, in its infinite wisdom, decided my question ‘Is enterprisation a word?’ was meant to be about enterprising. If I wanted to look up enterprising, I certainly would not have spelled it like enterprisation, but I digress.)

Three weeks is one of the shortest election periods, from what they said on the news, but from what I could find, the maximum is 30 days from the dissolution of the Dáil, so 23 vs 30 isn’t really that much of a stretch compared to the 9 months in the U.S. (first caucus to final election).

Voting is interesting as well. They have something called Proportional Representation (PR-STV). You don’t just get to vote for your favorite gal or guy; you get to assign a priority to ALL candidates. If you just like one person you can put a 1 next to their name and skip the rest. In the event you’re not sure if your first choice will make it in, you can assign priorities 2 through N where N is the number of candidates running in your constituency.

So, how does that work then, for the 2 through N votes? All the 1 votes go into piles by candidate. Once a candidate reaches the quota (which is calculated based on the number of seats and votes cast the extra votes are distributed based on the proportion of #2 votes cast by those voters applied to the number of surplus votes. They do this until all the available seats have been filled. This included taking the votes from the candidates who don’t have a snowball’s chance of making quota and distributing those to their next pick. Sound confusing? Check out this RTE video which helps explain how it works.

Between the way they rack up scoring in Gaelic Games and they way they process election votes, you have to admit, the Irish love their maths (that’s right, United States, they like math so much they made it plural)!

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