The Election Day dilemma (5×8 – 11/8/11)

Should uninformed voters vote, goofing on Best Buy, the distracted planet, this day in veterans news, and what would you tell the world about Minnesota?


It’s Election Day, you may have heard. There are school levies on many ballots, municipal and school committee races dot most of them (unless you’re in Minneapolis). All of my online friends are reminding me I should go vote. I haven’t done any research on the races or levies that may (or may not) be on my local ballot. I’m aware of only one candidate — he wanted to be my friend on Facebook and, silly me, I thought he really did. Instead he just posted about his campaign. I’m not voting for him because abuse of Facebook friendship is a bigger deal to me at the moment than that the education of young minds. Maybe.

Am I too uninformed to vote?


In St. Paul, voters will try ranked-choice voting for the first time. That gives us the opportunity to trot out this favorite…

Famed Congressman Loomis Beechly has a message posted on Dale Connelly’s Trail Baboon blog

So go to the polls and cast your random, uninformed vote today. This is a great year to do it, because I’m not running for anything and the next twelve months will be full of crazy messages that are blurted out by candidates who are under the influence of think tanks, PACS, Super-PACS and six-packs. Think of it – for a full year, everything that’s said in every form of media will be intended to influence one or more segments of the voting public. Will it be aimed at you? Don’t you want to be wooed? Who doesn’t! If you can’t be rich, you should vote, at least.

Become a voter- today is your last chance to get an oar in the water before the year of seduction begins. Why endure such a long conversation that isn’t about you?

You can find your polling place here.


Remind me to tell you sometime about the time I accidentally wore khaki pants and a red sport shirt to Target.

(h/t: Tom Weber)


If you’re into people watching, these are dark times. You can sit and watch one person come by with his/her snout in the smartphone, or wait a bit and watch another person come by with his/her snout in the smartphone.

New York Times photographer Misha Erwitt says this is a bad thing if your job is to take photographs of people being people on the street.

Even when people are supposedly at rest, there is something to keep their attention other than the constant parade of humanity or their surroundings. The distraction is cradled in the palm of your hand. While the theme of these pictures is the ubiquity of these devices, the fact is that I’m finding it harder to get a picture on the street without one of them in it.

Erwitt’s photo essay today is first class stuff: People and their distractions.


Heather Weller, 12, of New York Mills has made and collected thank-you notes and delivered them to veterans at the Minnesota Veterans Home, Audrey Kletscher Helbling at Minnesota Prairie Roots informs us.

She’s done it for the last two years, but on her Facebook page, apparently, Heather is noticing a change:

I’m feeling sad… I have hardly received any Thank you e-mails yet this year. PLEASE just a quick second to e-mail a thank you! Whats a few seconds compared to years of sacrifices that our Veterans made for us?

It is important to Thank our Veterans all year around but right now I especially work on my e-mail campaign to collect as many Thank yous as possible to take the Veterans Homes for Veterans Day. Please send an e-mail thank you to or to or leave a message on this page by November 9th. I will take the messages to Veterans Homes on Nov 11th. It so important to remind our Veterans & their families that they are Never forgotten! Thank you!

Retired Sgt. Mike Mills of Freeport is going to march in the New York City Veterans Day parade, the St. Cloud Times reports. He was severely burned when his truck hit an improvised explosive device in 2005. He’s now an advocate for disabled veterans. “It lets other veterans knows what’s out there for them because of their disadvantages,” Mills said. “There’s more than sitting at home and watching TV.”

In Columbus, Ohio. things are so tough that schools don’t have American flags, even though there’s a district requirement that students recite Pledge of Allegiance. So vet groups bought 1,200 flags.

In Montreal, Claude Lord, a 53-year-old veteran, has toughed out three biting winters in his home, primarily with the help of a good sleeping bag and the wood-burning stove he installed, according to CTV. He lives in a shipping container.

An Iraq War vet was riding his motorcycle near Gaylord when he and a car collided. The driver of the car left him in the middle of the road and drove away…


Minnesota Public Radio News yesterday posted some fabulous pictures showing the destruction caused by the summer’s wildfire in the Boundary Waters.


Coincidentally, yesterday posted equally compelling images, but this destruction was at the hands of humans in the Alberta oil sands.


Bonus: It must be quite a challenge for economic development officials to try to attract business to the region while politicians are busy telling everyone how awful Minnesota is for business. The Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership has just posted this video, which I post here — I admit — only because I love aerial videos of Minnesota.

The question near the end would make a fantastic one-day exercise for everyone in Minnesota: On a given day, everyone tell the world about our region. What would you say?

(h/t: Ben Chorn)


Today, St. Paul voters have their first chance to use ranked choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting. Proponents say the new voting method will allow results that more closely match the preferences of the electorate. Today’s Question: Do you think ranked choice voting will result in better elections?


Voters across Minnesota head to the polls Tuesday. The Big Story Blog will report on the most interesting and significant ballot questions.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds widening gaps in how different generations view politics. Older voters are more conservative, while younger voters tend to be more liberal. We look at how these trends will play out in the 2012 election.

Second hour: Ray Davies has written some of the most memorable songs in the rock & roll cannon. On his new album, Davies opens up a few of these songs to reinterpretation with the help of Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and a host of others. He joins Midmorning to discuss his music, his career and why he felt it was time to revisit his past work.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Elections expert Joe Mansky answers your questions about voting procedures.

Second hour: Jim Lehrer, speaking at the Commonwealth Club about his new book, “Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Frontline reporter Ramita Navai joins host Neal Conan to talk about going undercover in Syria,

Second hour: Photographer Annie Liebovitz.

  • Bob Moffitt

    The difference between the Boundary Waters fire and the Alberta Tar Sands strip mines is the damage caused by the fire is only temporary. The forest will regrow, quicker than you might think. As for the Alberta Tar Sands, well, no one knows…

    BTW, we Minnesotans get the majority of our transporation fuel –including aviation fuel — from that area.

  • This is NOT lucy

    About that informed and uninformed voter discussion, I will only comment or ask the question, “In the matter of politics, are informed voters really informed?”

  • kennedy

    A voter that doesn’t vote gives their power to those that do. This concentrates influence into a smaller group of voters. The smaller the voting pool, the more easily the outcome influenced by special interests. I don’t want to be governed by special interest groups (even those whose causes I support) because they focus on isolated issues and not the big picture.

    Everyone please vote.

  • Bob Collins

    I so wish there were a way to have affordable exit polling for legislative races that explains exactly why people voted the way they did and what issues they responded to.

    In the absence of that, lawmakers proclaim mandates on issues #1-10 of their party’s platform, and I’ll bet most voters hold their noses on certain issues to vote for others.

    I’d love to know what those issues are.

    The democracy no longer seems capable of functioning without more specific information from the voters.