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Kucinich calls for recount in NH. In the last year not a lot of… - Zer Netmouse
January 11th, 2008
07:59 am

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Kucinich calls for recount in NH.


In the last year not a lot of people have been talking about the fact that two years ago lots of watchdog groups were saying we were not ready to have a presidential election we could depend on--many of the electronic ballot-counting systems were actually worse at the time (for accountability) than New Hampshire's, which at least appears to keep a copy of a physical ballot. I'm not sure how far we've gotten since then.

One analysis group reports of the NH primary that comparison of *some* hand-counted ballots with *all* the electronic ballots show eerily switched percentages for Obama and Clinton compared to the total count reported. What's that Scalzi was just saying about how hard Clinton would fight for this election? Seriously, though, numbers do weird things sometimes. It's not always a conspiracy. But I'd like to see a recount like this done at a time when no one can argue the whole national economy is waiting with baited breath for the results and that therefore (this argument never held water for me) we have to stop counting the votes. Please, please, please, let's not have another Florida/Ohio/etc. situation. This is America. We really ought to be able to get this voting thing down. It's not really that complicated.

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From:grimfaire
Date:January 11th, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
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There were a lot of "fishy" numbers in NH when comparing hand counted to electronic counted. The guilliani/romney/paul numbers were way off. Hand count had paul at like 15%, romney at 15 and guilliani at 8... much different from the electronic numbers which were off in some instances more than 9% from the hand count.

From a computer security expert voice; not one of the electronic voting machines has passed inspection. Most of them can be "hacked" (I really that term btw) pretty quickly with items you can carry in your pocket. And since you're screen from each other, you can do it so no one else sees you. Of course, if you want to get real conspiricy, they could also be modified before the election. Oh, you pressed Obama and that's vote for obama as a multiple of 3 so it gets marked down as clinton.
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From:foms
Date:January 11th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
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It would be nice if the US used hand-marked ballots.
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From:netmouse
Date:January 11th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
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We do in Michigan. They are read by a machine, but they are all marked by hand and available to be re-read. And unlike the "hanging-chad" monsters of yore, these ballots are clearly marked in ink by completely a line that forms an arrow pointing at the name of the person you're voting for.

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From:foms
Date:January 11th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
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Oh. I thought that everyone in the US had mechanical booths and never got to see the results of their actions.

Either way, if a representative of each candidate does not look at a ballot (or, at least is not offered the opportunity) I'm not sure that it should count.
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From:holyhippie
Date:January 11th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
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Voting technology at the very least, varies by state. Mostly, the decision on what equipment to buy to assist in voting is done at the county level.

Making things more complex, absentee ballots are allowed - and these may or may not result in a piece of paper similar in form to what is generated by the voting machines in polling places. County elections departments may then have multiple types of machines to process different paper generated in different places.
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From:foms
Date:January 11th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
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If I recall correctly, I get my absentee ballots on regular eight-and-a-half by eleven paper.
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From:madkingludwig
Date:January 11th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
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I used to vote in Hamtramck until July of 2003 and we used paper ballots. I mean, they were the size of a concert poster and you made checks on them with a Sharpie. Pretty easy to read and really easy to recount. And we had lots of recounts. Mayors offices were often decided on 10 votes or less.
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From:holyhippie
Date:January 11th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
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I believe everyone in the US has the option of a hand-marked ballot. It's called voting absentee. Which is what I do.

However, the number of races, issues and propositions on a ballot can be sufficiently complex, to make hand-marked ballots fraught with usability traps.

I'm of the opinion that the machine-assisted voting systems can be made good enough to deal with all the usability issues. However, a printed paper trail is also mandatory - the ideal system for me would be a machine that prints a ballot that I then read, verify that it says what I want, and carry to a collection box.
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From:minnehaha
Date:January 11th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)

Voting

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"It's not really that complicated."

Unfortunately, it is far more complicated than most people think. "It's really not that complicated" is the source of a lot of our problems.

B
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From:netmouse
Date:January 11th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)

Re: Voting

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well, complicated is not the same thing as "difficult to assure is not undermined by people intending to do the process harm"

I liked the idea of having the code for counting ballots in electronic machines be open source, giving all citizens the right to examine the source at any time during the day, prior to or during the election.

That, and keeping a paper ballot (making sure they are neither thrown away nor altered).

That, and designing the ballots to be usable. And having enough polling stations. OK, the whole process can get complicated, but the fundamental concepts are not.

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From:childe
Date:January 11th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)
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Our voting system would not qualify as First World with the UN. I'm not sure if it even qualifies as Second.
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From:marsgov
Date:January 11th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
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This would the same UN that has the Sudan setting human rights standards? C'mon, give me a break... the US voting system isn't perfect and never will be perfect, but it's a far cry from what goes on in Third World countries such as Russia.
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From:grimfaire
Date:January 11th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
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It's a far cry from what it could be now. There are more than a few groups out there trying to have election reform. The whole caucas/primary thing is horrid, not to mention the final election process is horriblely setup.

As our voting system stands now; if you like more than one person or really dislike one you end up in a very big quandry. If you vote for one of the people you like, you hurt the other while if you don't want someone elected (which is just as valid a choice) then you have to decide if the vote you're casting will go against that candidate or will it actually help them by pulling a vote from another.

A more elegant and fair method would be a rating scale. 1 to 10. Rate every candidate on the ballot from 1 to 10. At the end of the day just add the numbers up. Whomever got the highest score wins.

Simple and elegant. There are some excellent write ups of the different voting processes out there.
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From:marsgov
Date:January 11th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
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These are separate issues; proposed radical changes to how voting works — changes to how voting has worked for thousands of years — does not come under the heading of "problems" with accurate counting in our current system.
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From:netmouse
Date:January 12th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
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You're defining the category arbitrarily -- if the category is "Problems with our election system" (especially as effected through and illustrated by the current two-parties-dominant system) then comments as to how voting ought to be counted in order to enable the populace to elect people the populace wants to elect are very much on topic.

Accurate counting is needed either way, but I would also like to see different ways of tallying votes, e.g. the australian run-off ballot like we use for the Hugo Awards.

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From:marsgov
Date:January 13th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
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The comments started on the topic of accuracy in counting; that's a different conversation that methods of voting. I'm willing to have both conversations.

I happen to like the current system, and I also happen to like the electoral college. Other systems will produce different sociological results and I'd prefer to see them tested on a smaller scale before being introduced at a national level.
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From:childe
Date:January 11th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
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Since when is Russia a 3rd world country?
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From:marsgov
Date:January 11th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
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OK, a Third World country with nuclear weapons.

Russia is heartbreaking. If Americans lived there, the country would be extraordinarily wealthy; instead it's a kleptocracy with a declining birth rates and dropping life expectancies.
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From:childe
Date:January 11th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
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You have a very high opinion of Americans. I can't say that I share it.
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From:marsgov
Date:January 11th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
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"You have a very high opinion of Americans." Absolutely. The best country and the best people on the planet.
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From:childe
Date:January 11th, 2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
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Well, as I said, I don't share that opinion. I'm of the opinion that, as a population, we are in great need of a dose of humility.
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From:madkingludwig
Date:January 11th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, when the 2000 presidential election was stolen, it was pilfered by old people in black robes with pens and gavels, not leather-booted Cossacks with bayonet- fixed Kalashnikovs.
'cause weez Civilized.
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From:marsgov
Date:January 11th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
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Ah. Well, my theory on that is that you should inform Mr. Gore that if you don't want to have the elections decided by a court, don't file a lawsuit.

We shouldn't fight about that here, however. Let's pick my blog or yours if we're going to duke this out.
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From:madkingludwig
Date:January 11th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
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Fair. I'd say let it drop: I cannot imagine any conclusion that's going to satisfy anyone on that topic, anyways.
No offense.
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From:marsgov
Date:January 11th, 2008 08:06 pm (UTC)
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No offense offered, and no offense taken.
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From:madkingludwig
Date:January 11th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
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Appreciated, particularly in the current climate.
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From:marsgov
Date:January 11th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
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The other question is whether or not people from neighboring states came to vote in NH. I've heard rumors that the laws are sufficiently lax to allow a simple declaration of intent to live in NH suffices to vote in the primary.

The other is the "get real" factor. A three percent difference in the vote count at this level isn't a victory; it's a tie.
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From:mjwise
Date:January 12th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)
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My understanding is in NH that all ballots are hand-marked, but only some are machine read. I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of variation since I imagine the distribution of machine reading is much heavier in higher density areas. And you do tend to see a lot of urban-rural voting differences on a micro and macro basis.

And, regardless of all else Dennis Kucinich is a grade A kookburger. He makes Ron Paul look sane and well-reasoned.
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