Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Recently I have been following with great interest the recount in Alaska and I am disturb to see that are political system is so willing to dis-enfranchize an entire group of people. Namely people like me dyslexic folks. The question arises - is the percentage of rejected write in ballots in Alaska related to the number of people who are dyslexic or other wise can't fully participate in a literate society?
I am going to send this question to Nate Silver of the 538 blog - I am not sure if busy Nate will have time to answer - I hope he gets to it.
Before I go into the logistics of this - here is the situation in short
Lisa M's whose name I will not even attempt to spell - father lost a governors race to Sarah Palin - Sarah endorsed Lisa M's tea party primary opponent - Guy in checkered shirt. Guy in checkered shirt (Joe Miller) actually campaigned - Lisa M did not - resulting in a surprise - Lisa M lost primary and Joe Miller received the Republican endorsement - which in Alaska is basically the election.
But it's personal so Lisa M declares herself a write in candidate. Now that would be hard any way - but she has an impossible name to spell here is it is pasted from else where - Lisa Murkowski
The last federal senate write in candidate who won an election was like decades ago... Since that time lots has changed about how we view writing and reading - I hope we live in a society that honors those who struggle with literacy and dyslexia. Unless of course you live in Alaska - as of last week Joe Miller's campaign has been challenging any ballot that is misspelled or even written in script - as opposed to being printed.
Gets us back to the question... is the percentage of rejected write in ballots in Alaska related to the number of people who are dyslexic or other wise can't fully participate in a literate society?
Many people who have trouble reading choose not participate in voting because they don't want to self identify and feel foolish as non-readers or below par readers. I found some academic papers that demonstrate a direct effect between literacy and voting in the States.
The National Institutes of Health says that "About 15 percent to 20 percent of people in the United States have a language-based disability, and of those, most have dyslexia."
Let's assume that the percentage of dyslexic people in the general population is 2% the percentage voting in the election. Let's say that many of those people have successfully compensated by bringing in one of those rubber bands or a piece of paper with Lisa's name on it. But let's say that roughly half of those people who are dyslexic - forgot to bring something in writing to copy or other wise are in denial. I am a big believer in denial. or they did not vote at all. or had the paper and still miswrote it.
I think it's fair to say that the only natural answer to arrive at is that most of the people having there ballots overturned in Alaska are the literate challenged, the dyslexic and the illiterate.
Luckily for Lisa M - she has attracted enough votes that she does not need to worry about the 8% that are being challenged by Joe Miller - that guy with the checkered shirt. But in the meantime I have another question - where the hell are the all the dyslexic advocacy organizations?
Where are all these expensive nonprofits who claim to have my self interest are heart?
At what point are they going to start actaully representing and protecting the interests of the people they claim to serve?