The forgotten election issue

A November 2 opinion piece by Bloomberg’s Noah Feldman touches on something that’s been on my mind recently: The role that the next president (and/or the one after) could play in shaping the Supreme Court is large. As Feldman’s column, “Top election issue: Supreme Court, not the economy,” points out:

…four justices are 74 or older, meaning they will be at least 78 by the end of the term. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is already 79, with Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy not far behind at 76 and Justice Stephen Breyer at 74. One hopes, of course, that they all live long lives, but the notion that all four will still be willing and able to serve the next four years is preposterous. Several will retire and be replaced — and even one replacement could fundamentally change the configuration of the court.

The fact that several justices could be replaced over the next one or two presidential terms could very well have a bigger impact on our futures than whether we have an Obama or Romney-driven economy for the next four years. But why have the campaigns and especially the media been nearly silent about this issue?

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Flashmobs at the polls

Like with every election, it’s been written that some mid-term 2010 races are already over, hours (or even days) before the voting is over.

Polls predicting various winners will likely be correct in many cases. But more than ever before, I have a hard time believing anything is over until the last ballot has been cast. And it’s due in part to the fact that we are now so connected via technology and social media that things can change quickly.

At the top of the Facebook homepage today is a counter, telling everyone how many of their friends and how many users overall have voted. As I write this, over 6 million of them have already clicked on the button.

Facebook's election day widget

Facebook's election day widget

On Twitter, many of the trending topics are election related, included a “Promoted” tag of #election at the top of the trends. Foursquare has an “I Voted” badge for those who check in from a polling place. And bloggers and mainstream media are cranking out election related content, much of which can now be viewed from almost anywhere via a mobile device and easily passed along to others.

While some races are no doubt over, I also think it’s safe to say that somewhere a person who was not going to vote will vote because of what they’re seeing on one of their social media applications. And somewhere there may be a sudden flourish of people who do this. Flashmobs can form in minutes–there’s no reason an organized swarm of voters can not show up at polling locations.

It’s always been the case that any race can end up going right or left or elsewhere in the final hours and minutes. But it feels like technology makes it even more possible now.