Something Went Right, Something Went Wrong

Screenshot 2020-02-08 at 15.03.36In January I went to Taiwan to participate in the election. Polls opened at 8AM and closed at 4PM. Three elections were held that day, one for president, one for a district parliamentarian, and a third for “party preference” to divide up 34 of the 113 places in the parliament between political parties proportionally.. Each voter received 3 paper ballots. (A few, who had been citizens for fewer than 6 months, ineligible to vote for president, only received two ballots.)

Fourteen million voters turned out. That means upward of 42 million pieces of paper had to be extracted from ballot boxes, unfolded, and the votes marked upon them tallied. No machines were involved. Vote counting was in the same rooms where votes were cast, under the view of anyone who wanted to witness it, and in many places, under the glare of television lights. The votes were all counted and certified within 6 hours. Something, in fact EVERYTHING, went right.


In February one state in the USA held a contest in which people interested in having a say about whom the Democratic party will nominate as its presidential candidate for the upcoming presidential election could cast votes. It was a “two-round” event. People whose preferred candidate did not reach an agreed upon threshold in the first round could vote for someone else in the second. Voting was done by standing in groups, and “heads” were counted, not ballots.  About 175,000 people turned up. Between the first and second rounds, some departed, but not all that many. Three days later, the results were still unclear. Some things, in fact, MANY things, went awry.


Iowa is four times the size of Taiwan, and though not flat as a billiard table, still has no mountains and few, if any, islands. Taiwan is small, mountainous and has many offshore islands. 

The results from Iowa’s 1,777 individual caucus sites had to be communicated to the party headquarters electronically. 


With time on my hands, I’ve applied to be an election worker in the State of Michigan. If I’m hired, I’ll be at a poll station somewhere in my local city when votes are cast in a future election or two.  I’m hoping to emulate the goodness of Taiwan as I do so.


David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.

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