Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TRUMP AND THE PURSUIT OF DEMOCRACY

Last night was a good night for Mr Trump and his situation is looking very bright.  Donald Trump is a master at getting our attention.  He admittedly says some smart things, but is generally appealing to fear and ignorance.  But that is not so much the theme of this blog post.

The Republicans have set up rules to choose their presidential candidate.  There are trade-offs between getting a mass appeal candidate with one that is acceptable to the Republican establishment.  In theory that is reasonable and even democratic.  Each state sets its own rules about who is eligible to vote and how they allocate the delegates who make the final selections at the convention.

At the moment there are a lot of people who are manoeuvring to stop Trump from getting the nomination.  Donald is complaining that it is unfair.  He contends that because he has been getting the most votes in most primaries he should get the nod and there might be trouble if he doesn't.

He illustrates the problem of "first past the gate post".  No one can be quite sure, but on the surface he has not won the majority in most primaries.  There have been as many as 16 candidates most of whom got at least a nibble of support.  As the candidates drop out it is not feasible to determine who a second or third choice might have been.  Perhaps Donald might deserve to win if this could be determined, but again on the surface it could also appear that the majority of voters have voted against him.

A dilemma for the Republicans who know from polling that the odds are against a Republican victory, especially with Trump or Cruz in the presidential race and likely it will affect both the Senate and House races and maybe even for Governors.  And maybe even worse affect the Supreme Court.  They need a candidate that can compete in the general election and help boost the Senate and House of Representatives, but the top two candidates poll very badly in that regard.

A compounding part of the problem is the length of the process.  The remaining primaries have only three candidates to choose from so you are getting closer to a pure decision.  Many might have preferred one of the candidates that dropped out, but that option is off the table (at least for now).  Others might want to force a decision at the convention and vote strategically.

There has been a mix of open and closed voting opportunities.  By open it is meant that non registered Republicans are eligible to vote for a Republican candidate and in a closed primary only registered Republicans are allowed to decide.  If it is really to be a party decision then it does make sense to not let outsiders effect a decision.  On the other hand it is argued they really want to know who has the best chance to win the general election.  A lot of opportunities to tilt the choice to the advantage of the Democrats.   In closed primaries only registered Republicans can vote and a lot of them represent the establishment.  Open primaries are hard to analyze because some Democrats can vote for the one they feel they can beat the easiest and assuming Hillary has her nomination sewn up.  Independents may just feel the Republicans are more interesting and still be open for a different vote in November.

Contrast to Canada as I understand it.  As a non party member I willingly give up my power to choose a candidate to represent any party.  I await the choices of those committed to a party philosophy and/or character and am grateful that I will have more than two choices.  Should I feel one party has all the answers or the overwhelming majority of the best answers I might be willing to invest in a party membership to help choose the best representative.  But I am lazy and not too sure that anyone has vastly superior answers and I like to think all my options are open.  If a particular party chooses a candidate that I feel is unsuitable I have a number of alternative choices.

Canada is examining alternatives to the first past the gate post and hopefully we will gain a better system where my vote will actually make a difference.  Americans really have two choices and one does look to be in the service of the 1% and the other has been somewhat corrupted.  For practical purposes there really are no other options.  Not much competition and not really fair to the average voter.  But theoretically every American does have a chance to help decide a party representative.

The big questions might be who do you really want to represent your party?  Who will you support?  What is the best way to organize the procedure? If nothing else Americans need to shorten the process so more work can get done.  Perhaps more importantly they need to cut down on the expense that only leads to corruption and limited choices.

Donald, instead of complaining about how unfair you are being treated, you should concentrate on winning the support of the majority.  Yes the details of the procedure do slant things, but you still have not quite got the majority behind you.

As an outsider it all seems like a nightmare.  Are Americans really that crazy that they can't understand the system is not working for them.  The majority know things are not like they should be, but they are blaming the wrong causes.

As a final note of a somewhat self righteous blogger I feel the media (and educational institutions) has not done its job in informing voters.  For my views on how the media has distorted this and other elections:  http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2016/03/the-media-and-american-election.html

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Voice in Movies


Movies are thought of as a visual art, but since 1927 the voice has been an important factor.  Some silent film stars did poorly after the breakthrough, but others came to prominence.  Al Jolson took a chance and launched movies with sound.  In elementary school along with some friends I became very interested in the two biographical movies about Jolson and can appreciate he had the stature to get sound movies off to a good start.  I even watched that first original sound film, "The Jazz Singer." My focuses on voice are tone, diction and phrasing with accents sometimes lending an element of charm.  Many actors and actresses were hired to be narrators or voices for animated movies.

Peter Lorre was one of the first voices that I noticed.  He had a raspy voice with a clipped manner of speaking.  He was successful on radio programs and was often parodied by cartoonists. On the other hand he appeared in some classic films "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca"

Charles Laughton got my attention for his way of talking.  He wasn't a hero a young boy could identify with, but his speaking impressed me.  "The Big Clock", "Spartacus,"  "Witness for the Prosecution" and "O Henry's Full House" were some where his voice was noticed.  He had been a stage actor and started his movie career before sound.  Later he made many stage readings.

James Cagney was my earliest movie hero a lot because of the way he expressed himself.  In many of his movies he is ranting, but he could also be soft .  Some of my favorites includes "The Roaring Twenties", The Strawberry Blonde," and "Angels with Dirty Faces." For more on Cagney:  http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2015/09/james-cagney.html

Spencer Tracey, appeared in "Inherit the Wind"  "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and I vaguely remember "Bad Day at Black Rock" as well as some of the earlier films with Katherine Hepburn.  His strength was his diction.  He also narrated for a few films.

Boris Karloff was silent in his most famous movie, "Frankenstein" and I don't recall hearing his voice in my youth, but perhaps "The Grinch that Stole Christmas" was my first consciousness of his voice, although I must have heard some of it before.  As a teenager I remember "The Monster Mash" which wasn't really his voice, but a sort of parody.  In my research it was suggested that his voice was the base for Tony the Tiger.

Orson Welles in "Citizen Kane"was  first seen in my university days where many assured me it was the best film ever made.  He was famous for "The War of the Worlds" radio broadcast--he had been involved with radio theatre--and had done voice for animated films.

Geoffrey Rush, (from Australia).  First seen in a small clip of "Quill", which although I have never seen the whole movie greatly impressed me.  He was brilliant in "The King's English', "The Book Thief" and "The Best Offer."  Like others on this list he has done a fair amount narrating and animation voice roles.

Richard Burton to me was a majestic Shakespearian actor and Welsh.  "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and "The Longest Day".  He acted on stage during his movie career.

Clive Owen, first noticed on British tv movie "Second Sight".  Later watched him in "Inside Man," "Children of Men", "The Boys are Back" and most recently "Words and Pictures."  He has a distinct voice I think particularly effective when speaking softly.

Russell Crowe, another Aussie (actually born in New Zealand), first got my attention with "Gladiator", a muscular role for sure, but playing a man who took on a leadership role.  Shifting gears I next saw him in "A Beautiful Mind".  Some others of his movies seen were "The Next Three Days", "Broken City" and most recently "The Water Diviner."  His voice commands respect and he uses it well.

Roger Allam's voice caught my attention in an episode of "Foyle's War" and I have spotted him in a few other British tv series.  He was a good choice as the narrator in "The Book Thief" representing Death.

Black actors have been noted for their deep bass tones, and some are also very eloquent.

James Earl Jones took a Broadway performance to the screen with "The Great White Hope." where he played an articulate boxer.  He became more famous as the voice behind Darth Vader in "Starwars".  Remembered fondly for roles in "Roots" and "A Family Thing."  Perhaps my favourite voice.  Strange to read that as a youth he had a problem with stuttering, perhaps a reason why he is very careful when he speaks.

Morgan Freeman, has the authoritative voice and demeanour to have played President of the United States as well as Nelson Mandela.  He had a background in theatre including Shakespeare.  I remember him in "The Shawshank Redemption", "Glory",  "Driving Miss Daisy"  "Se7en" and "The Bucket List".  Well known as a narrator including tv commercials and animated films.

Denzel Washington ("The Great Debators,"  "Inside Man",  "Taking of Pelham 1 2 3", and "Glory".  Recently saw one of his earliest films, "A Soldier's Story."  He usually plays authorative figures using a commanding voice.

Idris Elba who played Mandela in "The Long Walk Home".   Also watched a bit in Luther--His voice can be heard in "The Jungle Book".  He was born in England of African parents (father from Sierra Leone and mother from Ghana).

Foreign speaking movie actors are a bit difficult to evaluate because I have my limited attention focusing on the subtitles, but the voice is one reason I prefer subtitled movies to dubbed movies.


Amitabh Bachchan was the son of a poet.  When he first attempted to make a mark on Bollywood, his looks weren't considered good enough, but his voice got him jobs as a narrator.  Eventually he got his break and for two decades was a box office hit.  Even today in his sixties he has scripts tailored for him.  A recent movie was conceived as a tribute to his voice,"Shamitabh."  The main plot device was that a mute actor needed a voice and stumbled upon Amitabh and became an overnight star.  It then becomes a clash of egos destroying both the voice and the body.  I have seen Amitabh in numerous movies and originally was annoyed  by some of the characters he portrayed, but gradually came to appreciate he is a very versatile actor and has a mesmerizing voice.  One of the movies I most admired was "Black"  Americans got to see him in a supporting role in "The Great Gatsby."
Bollywood uses backup singers for even their top stars, but he surprised me  in "Kahaani" where he sang a song over closing credits that was very stirring as a great cap for an especially memorable movie.

Max von Sydow has played many supporting roles.  Where I remember him is "The Seventh Seal", "Wild Strawberries" and "The Diving Bell and The Buterfly".   He has appeared in many English speaking films.  Has had his voice in animation and narration in both English and French.  Also his voice has been used in some video games.

What of women?  Women have always felt looks were essential, but in fact a voice can make a difference.

Can a voice be sexy?  Lauren Bacall's certainly used her voice to good effect.  Most famous paired with her husband Humphrey Bogart in such movies as "The Big Sleep", and "Dark Passage" and also on radio programs.  She acted in several stage productions, winning a Tony for "Applause."   She also did some English dubbing for Japanese animated film by Hayao Miyazaki.

Marlene Dietrich used her German accent to get attention.  First saw her in "Pittsburg" with John Wayne, but she made the strongest impression in "Witness for the Prosecution" sharing the spotlight with Charles Laughton and Tyrone Power.

Meryl Streep is a perfectionist in using a variety of accents.  Her voice sets a tone for the rest of the movie.  "Kramer vs. Kramer," "The Devil Wears Prada" "It's Complicated".  She has used her voice in animated films and done some narrating.

Emily Blunt, plays on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.  When she was age 8 she spoke with a stammer until age 12 when a teacher persuaded her to act in a play with a northern British accent and that cured her.  Early in her career she played in an episode of "Foyle's War" which I regret not paying enough attention to remember although one of my favourite series.  I also barely remember her in "The Devil Wears Prada"  Her sparkly voice as well as her appearance and acting ability did get my attention in "Sunshine Cleaning",  "The Young Victoria", "Your Sister's Sister" and "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen."  Recently saw a different Emily Blunt in "Sicario".  I am looking forward to seeing her in "The Girl in the Train" as I enjoyed the book and have seen the trailer.  She sings and has been a voice on "The Simpsons" and other animated films.

Audrey Tautou shot to fame with "Amelie" and "A Very Long Engagement."  I enjoyed  her in several pictures with Romain Duris, "Delicacy", "Precious".  English speaking audiences first saw her in "Pretty Dirty Little Things", and "The Da Vinci Code" where her accent was considered charming.

Katherine Hepburn has a very distinctive way of speaking.  "Philadelphia Story" "Guess who's coming to Dinner?", "The African Queen"  "The Lion in Winter" and many romances with Cary Grant, and Spencer Tracy.

Do you agree?  Does an actor's voice affect your perception of them?  Whose voice do you remember the best?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

In Praise of Water Polo

A confession to start this blog.  I haven't seen a live water polo game in years and only occasionally watch during the Olympics and Pan Am tv coverage.  My daughter, Heather who got me started on blogging is also the one who did get me interested in water polo.  Today I was reminded by a front page photo of the Hamilton Spectator that included my daughter's high school team, Westdale High.

No one was more surprised than me when my daughter picked up an interest in competitive swimming.  I didn't swim and although I did watch it at the Olympic level I didn't picture my life revolving around it as much as it turned out.  Swim meets tended to be out of town, sometimes requiring an overnight visit meaning sometimes the whole family took a vacation.  But the real time commitment came with practice which often meant getting up at 5 am and then later going to another practice in the evening.  I would hear about hockey parents going to a lot of practices and out of town games, but on the practice end I think the swimmers take the prize.  One of the bonuses is they are more fit.

Both my wife and I got involved in volunteer activities.  One of mine was getting results to the local paper and one pleasant memory was talking to Joanne Malar who once held a world record.  More concretely I got involved in officiating and worked myself up the ladder a bit.  Instead of being one of the cheering crowd I felt I was part of the action.  One of our club members actually made it to the Olympics as a starter for swim events.  More on my sports volunteering:  http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2013/06/my-career-as-sports-volunteer.html

Swimming is very demanding.  All that sacrifice is necessary because to get to the top is extremely competitive.  Along the way it is not always fun. They go up and down lanes continuously with the only variation being stroke and pace and occasional breaks.  One coach explained it to me that there are countless practices in relation to an actual competition meet unlike in team sports where it seems there might be one to three practices for every game.  At one point my daughter got involved with water polo at the high school level and my wife and I started attending games which admittedly were more fun.

In my adopted city of Hamilton water polo is in almost every high school and my daughter's school, Westdale had a long tradition.  They like to recruit swimmers because they have endurance and speed, both in demand for water polo.  It didn't seem very ladylike and later my daughter confirmed it really wasn't for delicate people.

What do sports junkies get out of watching sports?  Although fictional drama works very cleverly to make one be pleasantly (sometimes otherwise) surprised at the ending it can't always match the unpredictability of a sports event.  Sports gives an opportunity to display character.  Overcoming difficulties and working as a team.  Skill, strength, speed and endurance. can be appreciated  It is all relative at one level.  If you haven't played a sport you can't really appreciate the skill, but the more you watch the more you can understand the skills required to win.

As in other sports a close game is more exciting.  With Water Polo we have seen come from behind and hold on to a slight lead, overtime tension and winning and losing.  My first sports love is basketball and I remember someone referring to it as a game of deception and let's be honest we all love to see one player fake out another or a defender calmly handle a fake.  The same holds true in water polo where faking is a key to getting around a defender or setting up a goalie for a shot.  My daughter assures me water polo is fun and it is easy to notice on the players' faces.

The first year Heather played for Westdale she was on the city championship team.  The last year she was the team captain and definitely one of the reasons they won another city championship.  The games were by no means a wipeout and winning required keeping your cool under pressure.  Of course it is always nice to be on the winning side, but as I get older I appreciate it is the opponent that brings out the best in you.  Learning to accept losing is always a character builder.

She went on to play for a non school team, but eventually she went to King's College in Halifax where interest was not as high.  Water polo is one of the sports I look for in the Oympics and other international events.  Water polo was one of the first team sports to be added to the Olympics back in 1900.  Modern day water polo comes from England and Scotland in the late 19th century.

To be played properly water polo requires a deep pool.  Switching ends with one end being shallow takes away from skills involved.  A lot of the action is beneath the surface as players jockey for position.  It can be spectacular to see a player rise above the surface and if the defense can sometimes counter that.

All sports have merit.  As parents we want our kids to be fit and healthy and to take on challenges and to work as a team.  Water polo is something that should be encouraged and is certainly enjoyable to watch.  No need to anticipate boredom, if you get to know the game it will get you excited.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Italian cinema


Italians can boast of some of the best directors in the world and have world class actors, movie composers and other film artists.  You don't have to understand Italian to have seen much of their work.

Politics and box office don't always mix  Fascism and Catholicism permeate many of their movies.  I was surprised to learn that Mussolini invested in Italian cinema in the 1920's and 1930's and is at least partially responsible for the development of technical skills.  He would be surprised to see the political turn about after his execution.  One reason that neo-realism got started in Italy was that after the war poverty hit even the film industry and they took to filming outside as opposed to inside elaborate studios.  Many sought non professional actors and recast established actor roles.  In Mussolini's time it was common to highlight tourist attractions, but they were avoided in neo-realism.

Roberto Rosselini is said to have been a key founder of neo-realism which had a strong influence on the French new wave film movement.  Also Elia Kazan credited him with his own realism in films such as "On the Waterfront."  Prior to World War II he was close friends with Benito Mussolini's son, but after Italy was out of war directed and wrote "Rome Open City" a very anti-Fascist film starring Aldo Fabrizzi and Anna Magnani, released in 1945.  Won a top prize at Cannes.  Famous for marrying Ingrid Bergman and fathering Isabel Rosselini.  A quote:  "I do not want to make beautiful films.  I want to make useful films.  I try to capture reality, nothing else."

My first Italian movie seen several decades ago was "La Strada" (1954), written and directed by Federico Fellini with Anthony Quinn and Richard Basehart being dubbed.  I was fascinated by the female lead, Giulietta Masina who I later learned was Fellini's wife and starred in many of his movies.  Her facial expressions reminds one of Lucille Ball.  An earlier film, "I Vitelloni" (1953) was grimly realistic.  Fellini won the best foreign film Oscar for "8 1/2" (1963) which is considered by some to be the finest film ever made.  Not much of a plot, it reflects the creative process as known by Fellini.  Another well known film was "La Dolce Vita" (1960).

Pier Paolo Pasonli, radical Catholic, also a Communist for a time, was murdered "Mama Roma" (1962) where he expressed a concern that Anna Magnani would be too dominant which she was.

Bernardo Bertolucci who worked under Pasaollini has directed and written for many English films such as "The Last Emperor" (1987) and "Last Tango in Paris" (1972).

Lina Wertmuller  wrote and directed "The Seduction of Mimi" released in 1972 and "Swept Away, released in 1974"  and "Seven Beauties" (1975) all starring Giancarlo Giannini who also appeared in "Love and Anarchy" (1973) which I did not see. All her movies had political themes.

'Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion" (1970) won  best foreign Oscar and Cannes and was directed by Elio Petri.

Giuseppe Tornatore, another director/writer gave us "Cinema Paradiso" in 1988 about his own love of movies starting as a young boy.  In 2009 he expanded on that with"Baaria."  Two really well constructed movies were "The Unknown Woman" in 2006 and more recently in English, "The Best Offer" in 2013.  He is working on a documentary about Ennio Morricone who provided most of his background music.  You can read a post devoted to his work at:   http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2015/08/giuseppe-tornatore.html

Sergio Leone  who went to school with Ennio Morricone  is famous for what has been called spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood.  The most famous one, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"  was ridiculed when it first came out in 1966, but is acknowledged today as a masterpiece.  He did a modernized western in English called  "Once Upon a Time in America" in 1984.

Italian film composers have left a mark across Europe and America.  Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, Ludovico Einudi, Nicola Piovani  Il Postino (1994) won music Oscar for composer Luis Bacalov.  My iTunes library is loaded with their music.

Andre Guera wrote music for a Bollywood movie, "Fan" that is getting good reviews and also for an earlier blogged film, "Dum Laga Ke Haisa."  Also for many American and European movies including "Hotel Rwanda"(not seen),  "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "Nine" (not seen).

2013 Oscar foreign film winner, "The Great Beauty" written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino who more recently wrote and directed an English film, "Youth" with Michael Caine. (not yet seen)

Sophia Loren married Carlo Ponti, the producer  and together they made Two Women, (1960) which she became the first actress to win best actress Oscar in a foreign film.  I watched dubbed version. She was only 25 and the script required her to be the mother of an adolescent.  She appeared in many Hollywood movies with leading men like Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Clark Gable, Charlton Heston.  In Italy you could better appreciate her acting skills.  "A Special Day" (1977),  "Marriage Italian Style" (1964) and "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" (1963),  "Sunflower" (1970) all with Marcello Mastroanni and all directed by Vittoria De Sica.

Vittorio De Sica was the director for many of Sophia's movies.  He started as an actor and continued to act, but became well known as a director.  "The Bicycle Thieves" (1948) is one of his most famous early movies.

Divorce Italian Style (1960) was directed by Pietro Germi and starring Marcello Mastroianni.

Michelangelo Antonioni directed  "L'avventura"  (1960)wiht Gabriele Ferzetti and Monica Vitti  Martin Scorsses was quoted as, "L'avventura"gave me one of the most profound shocks I've had at the movies."

"The Dinner" (2014) was an adaptation of Dutch book by Herman Koch unfortunately was not as layered as the book, but still enjoyable.  Directed by Ivano De Matteo.
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Human Capital (2013) directed by Paolo Virzi took a skeptical look at modern culture.

"Life is Beautiful" (1997) directed, written and starred in by Roberto Begnini.  I had only thought of him as a goofy comic comparing him to director, writer, like Jerry Lewis.  This movie is a comedy about the Holocaust which could have been disastrous, but was accepted by many Holocaust survivors.  It is hard not to laugh in many parts, but the viewer is well aware of the gross undertones.  The leading lady in this and others is his wife, Nicoletta Braschi.

As with my other movie posts I have named only movies I have actually seen, unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Voter issues in the American election

One of the rights of every American citizen is to vote for legislators who set the laws and make decisions that effect everyone.  You are not supposed to know or even assume how any one individual would vote, but in fact this type of knowledge is key to some political strategies.

Shaping votes has become an issue in American elections where each state can decide who it will confirm as a voter and also how voters can be bundled together.  These two powers can be vital in an election.

Political operatives by which I mean those who are involved in managing election campaigns on behalf of candidates have a good idea of how groups vote or at least they think they do.  Those in power determine who they think will vote for or against them and try to optimize their outcomes.  It is assumed that minorities, poor people (in some states), students and ex convicts will vote Democrat.  Many of these are what might be considered the working poor and have limited access to vote with respect to time and location.  While there have been trends to more advance polls including weekends, Republicans make efforts to cut back on them.  They have requirements to register to vote that also can be difficult for the less than fully motivated.  Watching "Selma" one becomes aware how blatant whites once were in blocking blacks from voting.

Prisoners are punished for whatever the law declares a crime.  After having "paid" their debt to society most run into prejudice.  Not only were they guilty, but they probably shouldn't be trusted.  There is also the suspicion amongst Republicans that they might vote for the non business party and should be punished by being restricted in voting rights.  In many jurisdictions they can apply to have their voting rights restored, but it can be difficult.  As of 2008 over 5.3 million Americans (disproportionately African-Amerian or Latinos) were disenfranchised due to felony convictions with many legislative changes in both directions since then.  Canada along with over a dozen other countries allow inmates to vote.

Students are considered by their elders to be immature and idealistic so their voting dilutes the realistic votes.  At well past 50 I can identify with that attitude, but those who bother to vote have a perspective that should not be ignored.  Students are facing poor job prospects and climate change more than their elders.  As students many have actually studied issues.  They are usually more open about some things.  The other problem with students is they often go to school and have a residence in two different locations.  They need to make a choice which may be based on convenience or where they think they can make the most difference.  Maximizing your power seems very legitimate to me.  Student ID's are not acceptable in all states.

Gerrymandering has proven to be very effective.  Both major parties have used it, but technology has enabled some very precise decisions on electoral boundaries.  In the 2012 election the Democrats collected over a million more votes than Republicans, but find themselves in the minority in the House of Representatives which doesn't really reflect the will of the people although they claim they do.  One suggestion I would venture is that some form of proportional voting be considered at the state level.  Each party could make a ranked list known in advance and that in itself would be a major factor in a voter's decision.  They would have to balance urban, rural, industrial, agricultural, cultural, gender, etc concerns and if a party can't assure an individual voter they would get fair representation, the voter would have the option of voting for the other party.

I lifted this explanation from a Daily Kos column by David Nir quoting a group of Wisconsin legislators wanting to challenge redistricting.  It seems one of the best explanations why proportional voting works much better.  The wasted votes could be yours, but no vote needs be wasted

The efficiency gap is simply the difference between the parties’ respective wasted votes in an election, divided by the total number of votes cast.  Wasted votes are ballots that don’t contribute to victory for candidates, and they come in two forms: lost votes cast for candidates who are defeated, and surplus votes cast for winning candidates but in excess of what they needed to prevail. When a party gerrymanders a state, it tries to maximize the wasted votes for the opposing party while minimizing its own, thus producing a large efficiency gap. In a state with perfect partisan symmetry, both parties would have the same number of wasted votes.

In Ontario municipal elections I was surprised to learn that those who have a business in an area and pay taxes are entitled to vote in that jurisdiction, but not for school boards.  I understand they also have to make a choice where they prefer to vote.  In local elections cottagers are often at a disadvantage.  In provincial or federal elections cottagers get to make a choice and I have heard discussions of which area their vote would have the most impact.

Here in Ontario we take for granted a lot of our accessibility to vote.  Employers are required to let workers have time to vote.  As a poll clerk for three levels of government I am aware of efforts to assure everyone entitled to, can vote.  Often a neighbour can vouch for a voter.

Photo ID should be a requirement, but it should be very easy to attain.  Most Ontarians have photo ID with either their driver's licence or their medical card.  In other jurisdictions some have opted for registration through birth and others have developed special voter ID cards.  They need to be easy for everyone.  I see some value in vouchers provided they are limited so that one person cannot take too great an advantage with deceit.

If a government is to have credibility they must reflect the will of their citizens.  There are too many people who feel their choice does not matter.  One should not take the attitude that only people like themselves are entitled to vote.  Yes, people need to be educated to their responsibilities, but that is another topic.