Voting Indian Style

As the world’s largest democracy, the efforts India made to ensure each of its 800 million registered voters had a ballot are somewhere in between noteworthy and commendable. No matter the gap in the circumstances between voting in the U.S. and voting in India, the work in the Markha Valley described in a NYT article invites comparison with practices in the U.S. Regular civil servants had to leave their desk jobs to trek miles and miles in a region high on a Tibetan Plateau to establish polling places. In the district of Leh, costs of fuel and voting awareness campaigns alone came to $1665 per voter. Normally every 1000 voters required a polling booth, but in Leh district, only 4 of its 274 settlements met that requirement. In Mombai or Delhi the logistics were simple, but in most of India, as in the Leh district, the challenges abounded.

In the US, by contrast, we are embroiled in voters registration laws, measures that are likely to restrict voting. Our turnout is already low—that in India was the highest it has ever been, thought to be about 68%– In Los Angeles recently the mayor was elected with votes from 16% of registered voters. Over a billion dollars, if not more, is projected to be spent on media ads, many sponsored by special interest groups funded by individual or others with deep pockets and sometimes private agendas— entities whose task is rarely to ensure that people vote, but to sway voters to vote pro or con a given cause or candidate.

It’s doubtful we’ll be able to get back to basics, but surely examples such as the one in India can open dialogue about a better way for us to conduct elections.

Out In The Open

Not long ago in Century City the  XBiz awards  were held sponsored by the magazine of the same name. You may or may not know that it is a magazine about what some call porn and others adult entertainment. It was the 15th year these awards were being celebrated. There were 35 categories including Girl/Girl Performer and Male Sex Toy of the Year. Riley Reid, 22 years old,  who ended up winning Female Performer of the Year, thanked her mother when accepting her award, the way any winner of an Oscar or Golden Globe would have. And like their traditional counterpart the awards honor on and off screen contributors. This year the XBiz awards also honored e-commerce firms, retailers and product designers.

Worldwide porn/adult entertainment is estimated to be a $10 billion business annually, implying a customer base that has to be rather large. And that’s why such an annual event as the XBiz awards have meaning. They reveal us to ourselves. They propel us to confront an aspect of our culture, that is usually hidden, and bring it out in the open air where all can see that without an audience, without those who consume adult entertainment, the whole business would not be as profitable, and certainly not as large.