A Tied Presidential Election: Asimov’s 'Franchise' Should Be Made into a Movie Other Than 'Swing Vote'

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You likely remember the Kevin Costner comedy-drama "Swing Vote" in 2008 about an unwitting man caught in a trap of singly deciding who wins the U.S. Presidency. While the movie was barely a critical or box office success, it was tangentially influenced by a sociological sci-fi short story by Isaac Asimov. And if you've paid attention to where many hot movie properties come from, you know the late Asimov has been (next to Philip K. Dick) on that list, and with possibly many more adaptations on the horizon.

Costner (who co-produced "Swing Vote") never acknowledged Asimov's story "Franchise" as inspiration behind his movie. The basic idea of one man having to decide an election that becomes virtually tied is one still needing a proper update to put into context how America can't get past the conflicts of the electoral college and the popular vote. Also, considering the original short story took place in 2008, Asimov might have been off by four years in his idea of computers predicting who wins the Presidency.

If we're ever at a point in history where artificial intelligence has evolved to tell us statistically who might win, it's right now. This isn't to say that it hasn't happened before, namely 60 years ago and the famous UNIVAC I computer accurately predicting the 1952 Presidential election. There isn't a doubt Asimov became influenced by this advancement, because his tale was written in 1955.

Now it's advanced to the point of electronic polls determining likely voters and electronic voting machines becoming depended upon, even though they provide no paper trail. We also have the real possibility of another electoral tie for President (as of the writing of this article), where it could virtually come down to just a few people deciding the race. Unless the electoral process is eliminated after this election, the Asimov tale might need several different cinematic interpretations that go beyond the amiably contrived pace of "Swing Vote."

The possibility is still out there of a Presidential election someday being so accurately predicted by artificial intelligence that the American people feel their vote won't make any difference. Considering "Swing Vote" went by the notion of an electoral tie, what would happen if a movie adhering closer to Asimov's story opened up the possibility of A.I. predicting a landslide for a particular candidate? In turn, one person is chosen to determine the outcome based on collective memes and other trends of the country.

It's the type of aged story that suddenly becomes much too relevant as many Philip K. Dick stories have in the last decade. Such a tale also becomes more apropos when the word "undecided" becomes more commonly heard than those sure who they want in the White House. This doesn't help when our proposed movie adaptation presumably has to go with the assumption of only two parties vying for the Presidency.

Yes, the truly creative route for a meatier "Franchise" movie adaptation is the computer predicting an alternative party being the winner. Out of all movies about fictional Presidents, we have yet to see one that shows what would happen if we ever elected an alternative political persuasion to run the country. Assuming an idea of a computer faltering on an alternative choice, the ending might end up with an ending similar to "The Lottery" instead of the lone voter being feted for going with the American political tide.

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