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Four more years of Barney

He seems to have secured a mandate based on his policies of pre-emptive war, war on the environment, crony capitalism, veiled racism, homophobia and a fundamentalism that would make the Taliban proud... our country is split down the middle creating a cultural civil war that is not going away any time soon. It is a fight over values in which there is very little middle ground remaining. The stakes are extremely high for all we hold dear.
- John Passcantando, Executive Director, Greenpeace, 4.11.04

The best thing I can say about the US presidential election is that there will be a Scottish terrier in the White House for another four years. Dogs aside, the US result is almost a carbon copy of the Australian election result a month earlier. A far right-wing leader, who took his country into a questionable war, gets re-elected with an increased majority and gains control of both the upper and lower houses of parliament.

The world is a less safe place as a result of this election. John F Kerry, for all his faults (particularly become more and more hawkish about Iraq as the campaign went on), was undoubtedly the better option, though if I were American and the US had a preferential voting system (which they call IRV), I would have given David Cobb of the Green Party first look.

There are stories of irregularities coming to light in the election, with recounts in Ohio and New Hampshire looking possible. Despite some very suspicious looking results, eg Bush getting approximately 300% of the vote in some precincts, I'd be surprised if any serious errors are allowed to be brought to light. But it is truly astonishing, looking in from the outside, at just how shambolic the US presidential election process is. For goodness sake, each state has their own responsibility for running the election, and some of the methods are wildly different.

And the election on November 2 wasn't even directly for the President... just for the members of the Electoral College in each state who will go on to choose the President and VP. Each Electoral College will meet on December 13 to cast their votes, which will be sealed and delivered to the President of the Senate to open on January 6. The identity of the president for the next four years won't officially be known till then, fourteen days before his inauguration.

An old-looking page on the Federal Election Commission website explains how the electoral college works.

But getting back to those irregularities: Greg Palast wrote on November 5 about problems in Ohio and New Mexico and followed that up on November 12. Keith Olbermann at MSNBC has picked up the story. Best of all is, which is assembling a database of press reports of problems in the November 2 elections.

See the campaign websites of David Cobb and Michael Badnarik for details of the campaign to obtain a recount in Ohio. Ralph Nader, meanwhile, is pursuing a recount in New Hampshire.

On the other hand, the Democrats seem uninterested in upholding democracy in the US. Even Howard Dean, writing on his Democracy for America website, seems unperturbed. Why do the major parties have such a vested interest in the appalling electoral system as it currently stands?