Philadelphia Metropolis


Bullet Ballot

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Bullet ballot X.jpgIf you vote Tuesday, here is the most important phrase to remember: bullet ballot.

Pick the handful of candidates you really like and vote for them --and only them.

It is a way to help them without also helping their opponents in a crowded field where there are multiple seats to fill.

Take the races for Common Pleas Court.  There are 10 judgeship vacancies to fill and 35 candidates running on the Democratic side.

You cannot possibly know all of the candidates. You end up searching for names that sound familiar or have a nice ring to them. That turns the process into a crap shoot.

Pick two or three candidates you know or have reason to know are decent choices, vote for them, and move on.

You are under no legal, moral or political obligation to vote for 10 candidates.

A bullet ballot is a term used in street politics for a sample ballot, handed out at the polls, that contains the name of only one candidate.  It is different than a party ballot, which lists the endorsed candidates for all of the offices on the ballot. Unless you are a sheep, I would ignore the "Official Democratic Party' ballot.  The party often picks clunkers or dogs..

But, voters are often relieved to take the party ballot because it helps them sort out that sea of unfamiliar names that confront you in the voting booth.

Bullet balloting makes your job easier.

Take the race for Council at large. There are 13 Democratic candidates running for five vacancies. Five of them are incumbents with good name recognition. They are going to attract votes simply because their names are well known.

But, suppose you support one of the challengers -- in this example, let's use Andrew Toy.  If you go in and vote for Toy and four other candidates, you are helping your guy, but you are also helping the other four candidates you voted for. It is a function of math.

You help Toy the most by voting just for Toy -- and no one else.

Here is another tip for Tuesday.  If you go into the voting booth and you see an office with a long list of candidates and you don't have a clue who any of them are -- don't vote for any of them. Resist the urge to find a familiar-sounding name and push that button. 

A good example is Traffic Court.  There are 12 Democrats running for one vacancy. Some of them are bozos. You don't want to vote them, so don't vote for that office.  Move on to the next section of the ballot.

To help you sort out the mass of candidates, we are running an Annotated Guide to the Primary, which lists the offices and makes suggestions on who to vote for.  It also recommends bullet balloting.

Feel free to ignore the suggestions. There is plenty of information on the web to help you decide for yourself.  The daily newspapers have interviewed most of the candidates and made endorsements based on the interviews and other research. 

The Committee of Seventy has compiled an excellent guide to the candidates that lists biographical information.  (As a rule of thumb, I wouldn't vote for any candidate who didn't take the time to respond to the Committee's request for biographical information. It shows disrespect for the voters and the process.)

On Tuesday, please vote.  But vote smart and vote strategically.


-- Tom Ferrick







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