Elections-Food For Thought
Keywords: Elections, democracy, gerrymandering
AbstractDemocracy means having a government respond to the will of the people. Elections are the means people use to express their desires. Inthe Oxford Dictionary, an election is defined as “the process of choosing a person or group of people, especially a political position, byvoting”. (Hornby, A. S., 2005, p. 49)Historically, elections have been of many varieties. An election in ancient Athens was far different than elections in today’s world. Thisbrings me to my point, as we are what we value, so elections reflect those values. They are shaped and defined by the values of a particularsociety and culture. Elections, their definitions and practices have evolved through changing the norms and values of different societies.Western Europe and America forged various electoral definitions and practices. In a democracy, elections supply legitimacy, solveprincipal-agent problems, and ensure that government is responsive to the “will of the people”.The most natural thing in the world is for us as individuals to see things through the lenses of our own cultures, traditions, and experience.I am an American. Elections, at every level, are something we Americans get from “our mother’s milk”. At an early age we elect classroomofficers, student club officers, and as we grow older we participate as voters in local, state, and federal offices. The whole idea ofan election is, in theory, that the person or group that gets the most votes wins the mandate to govern. But is that how it always works? Inmy brief paper I will first discuss elections in general and then discuss some of the things that can “influence” the outcome of an election.This article is not about giving definitive answers to any of the questions I have raised. Its sole purpose is to ask questions so that all of uscan be more analytical about our electoral process to insure that our elections are more fair and, in fact, do reflect the popular will. Withouttransparency, the “definition of election” changes reality. Elections then become a farce and a sham and are used not for the people butagainst the people by powerful unseen (or seen) individuals or special interest groups.