Chapter 33 Elections in Italy vs. the U.S.

Yesterday, my son Richard and I voted together in Alpine, CA. It was our second national election voting side by side.

In the midst of all the controversy of voter fraud and voter suppression in the U.S. election, I asked my Italian friend Fabiana Renzo, a pugliese who now lives in Rome, how elections take place in Italy. In Alpine, I give my name and show some form of identification. I sign my name to keep me from voting twice. In theory. But, I could have voted twice if I had wanted to, but that’s a secret I’m not going to share for the moment, in case I need to vote twice like a Chicagoan.

In Italy, every voter must secure an election card, una scheda elettorale. Like in France, it is the second most important piece of identification after one’s national identity card. The Italian government checks you out to make sure you’re a qualified citizen. If you don’t have your scheda elettoriale, you don’t vote. Period. No need for True the Vote. No hassles from political poll watchers of any kind while waiting in line. And most importantly, no voting machines manufactured by politicians or politicians’ families. Italians have found other ways of inserting corruption into the political process.

In Italy, one generally votes on Sunday, which helps to ensure the high voter rates by Italians. The voting rate is seldom below 80% in any Italian election. Americans, representing the most famous democracy, seldom vote beyond 50%. Voting places include schools and churches like in the U.S. Italians get to vote for a bevy of political parties. Republicans and Democrats have collaborated to minimize competition from third parties.

All seemed perfect until I found this quote by former Soviet dictator, Josef Stalin: “It’s not voters who count, it’s the counters of votes.” Fabiana admitted that Italy has its issues with vote counting. A process devoid of corruption, is un-Italian, after all.


About growingupcalabrese

Professor of French and Italian at San Diego State University
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