The voting patterns in the Flyer's Best Of Memphis election are not all that dissimilar to the voting patterns of other, more important elections. A large majority of voters dutifully fill out their ballots -- either online or via the old-fashioned paper-and-pencil method -- with full faith in the system. In their eyes, it's one man/one vote, and may the Best Pizza win. And just as in real elections, some of these folks are informed citizens who have taken the time to educate themselves on the issues. They can readily tell you which dry cleaner, say, gets the starch just right or which casino really has the "loosest slots." Other voters just fill in the blanks with the same answers every year. Best Ribs? Got it. Best Wine List? Yep. One suspects they just don't care very much; they just want to fill out more than 50 percent of the ballot so their votes will count.
But that's okay. At least they're exercising their faux citizenship in an honest if unthinking manner. As I said, it's a lot like some voters in real elections.
Other voters, however, present challenges to those of us charged with ensuring free and fair elections. Just as many politicians offer voters free rides to the polls, many candidates for Best Of Memphis honors fill out ballots for their friends and customers, asking only for a signature in return. Some candidates are even less subtle, sending in dozens of ballots at once, all in the same handwriting, using the same kind of stamp. It's like using dead people to vote. (Folks, please. If you're going to try to cheat, at least make it a challenge for our poll watchers.)
But our jobs were made infinitely easier this year with the introduction of online ballots. Vote counting was automatic, and cheating was -- as far as we can tell -- impossible. Perhaps because of this, there were a few surprise winners this year and some old favorites who got bumped. For a complete list of readers'-choice winners, go to page 38.
The rest of this year's Best Of Memphis issue is filled with an eclectic bunch of articles from our staff -- their "A-List" selections. Enjoy. And thanks for voting, no matter how you did it.
-- Bruce VanWyngardenBlog Rolling
10 A-List Concerts
Best Food and Drink on the Cheap
Readers' Picks 2005
The Shopping List
The True Memphis A-List