Super Tuesday: Why I voted for Kucinich

Kéllia Ramares // Published February 8, 2008 in Online Journal
On January 22, the registration deadline for the California Presidential Primary, I changed my party affiliation from Green to "decline to state" so that I could vote in the Democratic primary. I wanted to vote for Dennis Kucinich. Two days later, he quit the presidential race. But, on February 5, his name was still on the ballot, so I voted for him anyway.

Some people would call this a wasted vote. But I don't think so. I voted for the person I thought was best fit to be president. That's what you are supposed to do in an election: vote for the person you think is best qualified. If all I wanted to do was to pick the winner, I would have done better to seek out a bookie and place a wager rather than cast a ballot. At least that way, if I picked the winner, I would have gotten some money.

My Kucinich vote was more than an act of idealism. It was a protest against the way elections are conducted in this country. Specifically, it was a protest against the way the corporate media, with the complicity of the leading candidates, can ignore some people who are running, and stop the momentum of their ideas and campaigns, by denying them news coverage or much time in debates, and then finally barring their participation in debates because they have not met criteria for gaining entrance, viz. poll numbers that the candidate might have gotten if he'd gotten any decent amount of coverage. In Kucinich's case, the situation was even worse. He met the criteria for participating in the January 15 debate but then two days later, the criteria were rewritten specifically to exclude him. And I didn't hear Edwards, Obama, or Clinton yell, "Foul! That's not the way elections in a democracy are supposed to work!"

(Republicans: do you know that Ron Paul is still in the race?)

I refuse to let the corporations tell me who my candidates are. Think about it, how different really is that from the Communist Party's electoral dictates in Cuba, China or the former Soviet Union? That we might have two or three candidates on the ballot to the Communists' one is only a cosmetic difference. We are still steered to whom we are supposed to vote for, and if enough of us still get it “wrong,” the power elites have ways to steal the elections. Florida 2000, Ohio 2004, and now there are reports of irregularities in the primary voting in New Hampshire and California.

How is it that pre-election polling showed Obama in the lead in critical New Hampshire and California yet he lost, but the pre-election polling was accurate for other races and other states?

I'm troubled by the fact that I don't know that my vote was counted for Kucinich and not for someone else. The ballot was slipped into an optical scanning machine; we have proof that electronic voting machines can be easily compromised. How do I know that votes for Kucinch, Edwards, Gravel, etc., were not turned into votes for Obama and (especially) Clinton?

We need paper ballots counted publicly by hand.

We need a national primary and caucus day -- I propose the last Tuesday in June -- that will end this war of attrition that eliminates the least-financed candidates regardless of the quality of their ideas, and also ends the practice of states jockeying for position. Budget-strapped California really didn't need the expense of a presidential primary in February and a legislative primary in June. But it was done that way because by June the nomination may have been decided, without the most populous state in the Union weighing in. A national primary day will also halt the silly spectacle of the Democrats stripping states of delegates because of when they held their primary. (Note: Florida and Michigan were stripped of delegates this year for holding their primaries too soon. In Florida, the primary date was set by the Republican-controlled state legislature. Is that fair?)

Super Tuesday is growing bigger with each election cycle, so eventually we may see a national primary day. Until then, we should have ranked-choice voting, to accompany the early voting and absentee voting that is growing in popularity. (In California, any voter can register to become a permanent absentee. They send me the form every year). This way, you don't have people who voted absentee for a candidate no longer in the running trying to vote again on primary day for a candidate still in the race.

No state should have winner-take-all.

We need debates that are inclusive. Say there are eight candidates seeking a party's nomination. Two debates can be held each month from January to June with four candidates each. Who would be in each debate would be determined by publicly drawn lots for each debate. We have public drawings for lotteries, post-positions in the Kentucky Derby, and the NBA "lottery" draft; we should be able to draw lots for appearances in debates. The debates would then be held at similar times so as to get similar coverage and audience. If the first one is held on a Wednesday at 7 EST, the second for that month is held the next Wednesday at 7 EST. If in the following month the first one is held on Saturday at 2 EST, the second one is held the next Saturday at 2 EST, etc.

Most of all, we need voters willing to stop voting as if they're betting on a horse race and vote for the candidates they truly like. In fact, that is the first step to the electorate gaining control of the elections. Vote for the candidate you want, not the candidate the corporations and their media lackeys want for you.

Journalist Kéllia Ramares lives, works, and votes in Alameda County, California, the county with the dubious distinction of being the first county west of the Mississppi to use electronic voting. She can be reached at