As an atheist, the news of Benedict XVI’s resignation is not of particular significance to me (though I will check to see how his resignation letter compares to Nixon’s). However, it does trigger one of the most unusual elections in the world – a Papal conclave.
The Washington Post have already published an excellent article on the machinations behind a Papal conclave, and how they have changed over time. I highly recommend you take a read. As they quote in the story:
Officially, Ratzinger’s selection was attributed to the will of God, a force not amenable to any empirical test that is in our power to conduct.
Which is really quite some claim to a mandate.
In a move to increase democratic participation, from next week Washington will be the first state in the union to allow voter registration via Facebook.
Your information is coming to us from Facebook but you can do that without leaving Facebook. Your name and date of birth are pulled from Facebook profile, then it operates exactly as it does if you’re not in Facebook. Our state database checks to see if you’re already registered. If you are, it will take you to MyVote service, [where] you can update registration information. You also need a Washington state ID or driver’s license. We do another real-time check to match that this is a real person who is registering.
Certainly something that the New Zealand Electoral Commission should be looking at.