Franchise: A Story for Election Day!

whitehouseAsimov, Isaac. “Franchise.” The Far Ends of Time and Earth.  New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., nd.

My thoughts and good wishes are with all the voters, who go to the polls today and to those that have voted early.  Thank you for participating in our democratic process!  The election of our new president is an important duty.

For election day, I offer you a story of a future time, written by Isaac Asimov in 1955. He imagined a time in the future when waiting for the results of an election was just too tedious and the statistical accuracy of the computers in that time reduced the need for the entire adult populace to vote. In the new Electronic Democracy, the voting process was run by the Multivac computer and only one man in the country  needed to vote. Notice that only one man was needed, by this time women were no longer eligible to vote. Did this Electronic Democracy reduce all the hype and hoopla of the presidential campaigns?  No, sadly, there were still presidential campaigns with all their excess and drama.  The pundit’s role was to speculate on state would provide the designated voter.  Norman Muller of Indiana was chosen and he was petrified. It was a grave responsibility to help choose for two hundred million people.  With great trepidation, he goes to do his duty.  Questions from Multivac are delivered to Norman by a technician. His response are recorded, reviewed and fed into Multivac. His ordeal lasted for three hours after which he had to wait for an hour to make certain Multivac had no more questions. After it was over, the only question Norman could remember was “What do you think of the price of eggs.”  I wonder what other factors Multivac incorporated into the election decision. In the end, despite his original terror, Norman was proud of his contribution.

In this imperfect world, the sovereign citizens of the first and greatest Electronic Democracy had, through Norman Muller (through him!), exercised once again its free, untrammeled franchise.

This process was clean and only took four hours.  Would I trade that Electronic Democracy for our current one?  No, I would not!  I want to help make this vital decision. I will take our messy, noisy, time-consuming process!  Tonight I am going to enjoy the fruits of our democracy and watch the election returns. I will raise my glass to the USA!

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