It’s that wonderful time of year, again - Election Day! And, as a good citizen, I registered for my absentee ballot.  When it arrived, I showed it to several colleagues (English, French, Canadian, etc), and they all agreed on one point – the ballot was big, puzzling, and overwhelming.

On one ballot, I can vote for everything from US President to township clerk, from US Senator to County Drain Commission, from Education Boards and University Trustees to judges, sheriffs and county surveyors. And then to top it off, there are a couple of ballot initiatives to vote 'yes' or 'no' on. To illustrate, I’ve included all the options citizens are expected to vote for at the bottom of this blog (just click 'read more' to see them).

I guess there are a couple of points to make. Firstly, it's probably a good thing that US voters get a democratic say over so many different areas of government. The contrast with the UK – where so much political power is wielded by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels, Whitehall, and beyond – is stark.

But on the other hand, the average voter can surely not have a clue about the candidates for the majority of these positions. While the democratic process is clearly being exercised, it just confuses most people. And finding out more, frankly, would probably not be a rational use of their time. So they make up their mind based on propaganda, mudslinging, and (frequently biased) media reporting.

Perhaps separating issues onto different ballots would to help reduce the confusion on election day, and hopefully diminish the amount of recounts to come.

  • Single Partisan Ticket (which does not include non-partisan elections or proposals): Republican, Democratic, Green, US Taxpayers, Libertarian, or for the Natural Law Party
  • Presidential: One choice of pair of President & VP candidates from above 6 parties
  • Congressional: A choice from 6 parties for senator, AND 4 for house representative
  • State of Michigan: A choice from 2 house representatives in 2 parties (Rep & Dem)
  • State Board of Education: Select 2 choices from 9 candidates (5 parties)
  • Regent of the University of Michigan: Select 2 choices from 9 candidates (5 parties)
  • Trustee of Michigan State University: Select 2 choices from 9 candidates (5 parties)
  • Governor of Wayne State University: Select 2 choices from 9 candidates (5 parties)
  • County Prosecuting Attorney: Select 1 choice from 1 candidate (Rep)
  • County Sheriff: Select 1 choice from 2 candidates (Rep & Dem)
  • County Clerk: Select 1 choice from 1 candidate (Rep)
  • County Treasurer: Select 1 choice from 1 candidate (Rep)
  • County Drain Commissioner: Select 1 choice from 2 candidates (Rep & Dem)
  • County Surveyor: Write in 1 candidate
  • County Commissioner: Select 1 choice from 1 candidate (Rep)
  • Township Supervisor: Select 1 choice from 2 candidates (Rep & Dem)
  • Township Clerk: Select 1 choice from 1 candidate (Rep)
  • Township Treasurer: Select 1 choice from 2 candidates (Rep & Dem)
  • Township Trustee: Select 2 choices from 2 candidates (Rep)
  • State Supreme Court Justice: Select 1 from 3 ‘non-partisan’ candidates
  • Judge of Court Appeals (Incumbent): Select 2 from 2 candidates (non-partisan)
  • Judge of Court Appeals (Non-incumbent): Select 1 from 2 candidates
  • Judge of Circuit Court: Select 1 from 1 candidate
  • Judge of District Court: Select 1 from 1 candidate
  • Judge of Probate Court: Select 1 from 1 candidate
  • County Community College Board of Trustees: Select 2 from 4 candidates
  • County Community College Board of Trustees (Partial term): Select 1 from 1

And finally, two state proposals to vote YES or NO on:

  • Proposal 08-01: A legislative initiative to permit the use and cultivation of marijuana for specified medical conditions
  • Proposal 08-02: A proposal to amend the state constitution to address human embryo and human embryonic stem cell research in Michigan