Patterico's Pontifications

8/9/2007

Fair Voting: A Nonpartisan Issue

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 12:05 am



Fair voting should be a nonpartisan issue. Marc “Armed Liberal” Danziger has been writing about a couple of aspects of fair voting, and I agree with him on both issues.

The first issue is voting machines. Here in California, Secretary of State Debra Bowen has decertified e-voting machines from several companies, including Diebold. Marc cheers this development, and so do I. Diebold machines have numerous security problems, including the fact that (at least in September 2006) they could be opened with a hotel minibar key. This sort of thing is a recipe for disaster — and we should all be able to agree on that, regardless of which side we’re on.

In an Examiner piece, Marc writes:

[O]ur voting systems need to be robust enough that we’re not left in bitter dispute after an election on who voted and how. We don’t need voting technology less secure than airport poker machines in Vegas and less auditable than Enron’s books. This isn’t a partisan issue.

Indeed it isn’t.

The second issue is monkeying with the allocation of electoral votes. Jonathan Alter recently wrote a piece discussing the attempts of two states, California and North Carolina, to change how they award electoral votes. Each state “would award the state’s electoral votes based on who wins each congressional district.”

Legally, North Carolina can do this. Article II, section 1 of the Constitution provides that electors are to be appointed by each state “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” North Carolina proposes to effect this change by statute, and the state certainly has authority under the Constitution to do so. (California’s ballot initiative may present a different question. The issue would be whether an allocation voted in by popular initiative would be “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” My tentative sense is that it would not.)

So yes, such strategems may be legal. But they aren’t fair unless they are implemented nationwide. Once again, Marc has it just right. He says:

I’ve got a basic position; fairness matters more than partisan advantage.

Spot on. One is reminded of Al Gore’s cynical attempt to manipulate the results in Florida by calling for a selective recount — even as he sanctimoniously pretended to ensure that we “count every vote” and “make every vote count.” Rational Americans saw through his blatant deception and dubbed his effort unfair, which it certainly was.

The efforts by California and South Carolina have the same feel to them. If we implemented this change on a nationwide basis, that would be one thing. But changing it selectively, in a few states, just smells bad — regardless of whom it benefits.

Not surprisingly, the folks at MyDD are applauding the North Carolina scheme. Just like Gore, they don’t care about fairness, if a scheme benefits their side. The slightly more reasonable Kevin Drum is bemoaning the California scheme, citing Alter’s article — but keeping studiously silent about the North Carolina power grab, which is also mentioned by Alter. (To be sure, the California power grab is of more significance, but a fully honest pundit would mention both.)

Those of us on both sides who are partisan — but who care more about fairness than partisan gain — should reject the MyDDs and Al Gores and Diebolds of the world, and stand up for fair elections. It sounds corny, but if fairness wins, we all win.

103 Responses to “Fair Voting: A Nonpartisan Issue”

  1. This is something I know a little about precisely because I come from another country, Canada.

    We almost NEVER have your horrible arguments over ballots.

    Granted, we use the same federal ballot regulations for every ballot in the country come election time so we’re all on the same page. Plus, they are dead simple.

    Black with the candidate and party name in bold white to the right. On the left is a large white circle.

    Any mark which clearly indicates the intention of the voter (I’ve seen, “Yes”, Xs, checkmarks, and a few smiley faces and one diagram of a reefer in the Marijuana Party candidate’s space — he lost) in the circle counts. Marks in more than one circles void the ballot.

    We use paper as you can tell.

    All I can say is the average Canadian has faith in the ballots themselves. I scrutineer each election like thousands of other Canadians to keep the process safe — but I have no ideal how you manage to have such controversy constantly.

    As far as your Electoral College goes, I’ll withold comment until I either think about it some more or at least perk up after my coffee kicks in.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  2. Huh? It’s unfair to have the electoral votes of a state be proportional to the actual votes? I don’t see it.

    I don’t think it should go by congressional votes though; it should go by electoral votes. Each congressional district should have its own elector elected by majority vote in that district. Then the remaining two could go to the majority vote for the state. Seems fair to me.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  3. Public confidence in the electoral process has been battered over the past seven years, and it needs to heal a bit.

    Dicey voting machines don’t help. There is already an entire field of conspiracy theory devoted to Diebold machines. We don’t need them. Good for Debra Bowen.

    Canada’s standard ballot is admirable, but our constitution always has to have things its way. It should suffice that both parties approve the format of the ballot, and if you think the members of your party will be unable to understand the ballot, say so before the election and not after you’ve lost it.

    As part of restoring public confidence, we need to stop bad-mouthing and tinkering with the system. Politicians who talk about abolishing the electoral college should shut up. The voter-splitters might be within the constitution, but their motives are less than pure and they should be savaged with criticism until they stop. If the losers get to rewrite the rules after every election, the day might come when people turn to some other form of government.

    Glen Wishard (b1987d)

  4. I’m pretty sure there was a Supreme Court decision, originating out of Colorado if memory serves, holding that changes made by voter initiative are within the meaning of “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” IOW, if your state says the people vote, the people are the legislature.

    As to the general fairness issue, I fail to see how it is any more “unfair” for North Carolina or California to unilaterally reduce its own influence in Presidential elections than it is for Nebraska and Maine to do the same already. It may not be a good idea from the perspective of Republicans here or Democrats there, but I fail to see the fairness issue.

    Xrlq (6c2116)

  5. “Huh? It’s unfair to have the electoral votes of a state be proportional to the actual votes?”

    No. I didn’t say that as a general matter. Did you read my post? Try again.

    “As to the general fairness issue, I fail to see how it is any more “unfair” for North Carolina or California to unilaterally reduce its own influence in Presidential elections than it is for Nebraska and Maine to do the same already. It may not be a good idea from the perspective of Republicans here or Democrats there, but I fail to see the fairness issue.”

    I fail to see how you could miss it. Was it fair for AlGore to have a selective recount in Florida? Discuss.

    Patterico (ce2af8)

  6. P: I think you have it exactly backwards. What isn’t fair is preventing states from allocating their electoral votes in the (legal) way their citizens want unless every other state went along. Why should the people of NC, California or wherever be kept from casting their votes in the way they wish? Just because the people in AK, IL or NY don’t like the idea?

    If the people of a state want to “unilaterally reduce its own influence in Presidential elections”, then they ought to be able to do so. And if they want to unilaterally increase their influence, they ought to be able to do so, provided of course, that their method of doing so is legal.

    And, to your #5, ‘fair’ ought to mean following and complying with the rules, and shouldn’t mean doing things in a way amenable to the other side. As much as I wanted Gore to lose, the rules allowed him to challenge the vote in selected areas. Preventing him from doing what the rules allowed him to do would have been unfair.

    steve sturm (40e5a6)

  7. If your definition of “fair” is “within the rules” then sure, the N.C. (and, if Xrlq is right, California) changes are fair.

    I have a different definition, and I would feel it was unfair if a big Republican state split its votes while California didn’t.

    Patterico (41b404)

  8. 1) There are already two states (Maine and Nebraska) who award their electoral votes this way.

    2) The California Initative wouldn’t change the way electors are chosen, it would direct the legislature to change the way electors are chosen, an important distinction.

    gahrie (5ae14f)

  9. As Josef Stalin is purported to have said – “It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people who count the votes.” (Whether he did or didn’t say this is irrelevant – “fake but true” is what matters, right?)

    If I were King (“It’s good to be the King”) I would immediately change election laws to require paper ballots counted in the precinct where they were cast immediately after the polls closed. Counting would be done in public with no restrictions on who can view the process.

    [“But,” you ask, “if you were King, why have an election?” “To give the people the illusion of control while they enjoy their bread and circuses.”]

    “King Horatio the First” – I like the sound of that

    Horatio (55069c)

  10. I’d love to see the Maine/Nebraska systems in place nationwide — the statewide winner gets the two electoral votes representing the two Senate seats, and the winner of each congressional district gets an electoral vote representing that district.

    And, of course, such a system would heavily favor Republicans! :)

    In 2004, John François Kerry won twenty congressional districts by greater margins than President Bush’s strongest district. Democratic votes are heavily concentrated in urban areas, leading toi much more lopsided Democratic wins there than GOP wins in their districts.

    Dana (3e4784)

  11. “One is reminded of Al Gore’s cynical attempt to manipulate the results in Florida by calling for a selective recount ”

    Talk about cynical…
    By your logic that would have invalidated the entire election from the get-go, for every state. When the hell did that begin to worry you?

    You’re writiig for your dittoheads who read you like a newspaper and don’t know enough to realize how you’re playing the argument.
    And you’re a few years late on Diebold, Pat, but thanks anyway.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  12. AF,

    Your argument makes zero sense.

    All:

    Maine and Nebraska have never split their votes. I’m not happy with what they’ve done, but so far it’s made no difference.

    gahrie:

    Cute, but if the legislature is forced to do it, that could be unconstitutional.

    Patterico (b5b2eb)

  13. Patterico:

    Prior to Bowen’s “finding,” did you like touchscreen voting? Did you ever vote touchscreen? Or have you been against it from the beginning?

    So far, everybody who has claimed touchscreen voting machines are “insecure” has, by a fascinating coincidence, been someone who has had an irrational hatred of it from the moment it was introduced.

    And none — including Secretary Bowen — has noted that all voting systems are insecure (including paper ballots); all can be broken by anyone determined to do so; and not a single touchscreen detractor has scientifically compared the relative ease of cracking touchscreens with that of breaching punchcard or optical-scanning ballots.

    (Here is an easy way to breach punchcard ballots: Put a stack of them together, then jam a stylus through the hole for the Democratic candidate. Those ballots whose voters had already punched that option will be unchanged; those ballots whose voters had punched any other option will now have two options punched, the original one and the Democratic one… and will thereby be spoiled.

    (As for optical scanners, which are run through the machine on the spot, they are subject to the same invasive computer hacking as touchscreen; because apart from the input method, they are identical. Yes, you have a paper trail; but so what? That only comes into play if the cheating is so obvious, you need a recount. If you’re careful to increase the Democratic vote in Democratic districts, not make Republican districts vote Democratic, no one will notice.)

    It seems, by contrast, that touchscreen voting must be compared to perfection: If it falls short, say those who have always hated it anyway, then we should abolish it!

    But when clear evidence exists of elections decided by paper-ballot cheating, well, you certainly can’t expect every election to be perfect, can you?

    I really like touchscreen voting. I don’t care if others don’t; it’s not mandatory. But I do, and so does Sachi. We are very upset that the option has evidently been taken away from us — without even a showing that it’s any easier to breach than any other form of voting.

    Show me the studies. Show me some evidence that it’s easier to breach a touchscreen system in situ (not in a lab, with total access to the guts of the machine, as was done in this case) than paper ballots (punch or optical), and you might have a point.

    But that’s not what anyone does; the mere possibility, no matter how slight, of tampering is enough to kill the technology… particularly when the killer is a Democrat, and the technology is by the dastardly Diebold — which, as everyone knows, is really controlled by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

    These machines were banned because the California Secretary of State is playing to the nutroots and their ludicrous conspiracy theories. And I’m jolly pissed that all it takes to ban my favorite method of voting is for people who aesthetically hate touchscreen to scream “Diebold!”

    It’s like vegetarians banning meat because everyone who eats meat eventually dies.

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  14. San Joaquin county (Stockton,Tracy & Lodi) actually ditched it’s perfectly good paper scantron type ballots to go to some hideously expensive electronic voting machines that are no where near as secure as their old paper ballots. They spent more money on junk and ended up with a system that is worse than what they started with.

    Nick Temple (f48568)

  15. Patterico:

    By the way, in Debra Bowen’s 16 years in the California legislature, here is how she stacked up, according to various special interest groups:

    Debra Bowen ratings

    As you can see, truly a down the middle, centrist, bipartisan chick she was. (For the irony impaired, the previous sentence is ironical.)

    If the electronic voting machines were manufactured by a company owned by someone who routinely raised funds for Democrats… does anybody here believe that the nutroots would be screaming to pull them out, or that Debra Bowen would have decertified them?

    Dafydd

    P.S. Patterico, can’t you fix the “link” button so that it works like everybody else’s link button? Currently, after you enter the URL of the link, it then asks for a “description”… and then, ignoring whatever text the commenter had previously selected, it pastes the link at the very bottom of the post, linked to what you entered as a description. From there, one must move it manually to wherever it should have gone. It’s really an unnecessary pain.

    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  16. Any mark which clearly indicates the intention of the voter … in the circle counts. Marks in more than one circles void the ballot.

    Canadians are a good deal like Americans: obsessed with every problem in America and blind to most problems in Canada. Does anyone seriously think that there are not vast problems with determining “voter intent”? Although this problem is rarely talked about in Canada, it was big news after the last Quebec separation referendum where it became clear that there had been massive, consistent fraud in determining “voter intent”.

    LTEC (231b31)

  17. One is reminded of Al Gore’s cynical attempt to manipulate the results in Florida by calling for a selective recount ”

    Talk about cynical

    One point that is rarely discussed in the florida recounts and the ensuing court fights is that the Florida district court is the only court that got the right answer – The main point is that gore was the plaintiff in the case and the plaintiff has to proof his case – there are numerous arguments pro and con for Gore’s position “count all the votes or count only gores votes etc, but again gore was the plaintiff. During the evidentiary phase of the trial, Gore only put on one witness who provided little if any testimony or evidence to support the case. I am not saying the there was not a tremedous amount of evidence supporting gores position, only that little or no evidence was presented during the evidenciary phase of the trial. Gore’s team presented very valid arguments during the opening &closing arguments, etc. However, since they did not present evidence during the trial, the district court ruled against gore accordingly.

    joe kosanda (057ac2)

  18. I agree completely that a fair voting system is crucial. Count what should be counted, don’t count what shouldn’t be. Anything else breeds cynicism at best and an overall lack of respoect for the process and for those that get elected.

    “Rational Americans saw through his blatant deception and dubbed his effort unfair, which it certainly was.” I agree, but quite a few aren’t rational, and quite a few try to take advantage of this fact.

    I suggest electronic voting with two printed paper “hard” copies. The voter gets one, one is kept at the precinct. The voter gets to look at both copies and initial before the precinct keeps theirs. This piece of paper should be very simple to read and understand.

    Punishment for election fraud should be very stiff, multiples of 2 months at Levenworth, depending on the crime. Undermining the credibility of our government is a subversive activity, this includes the “resurrection vote”. If there is a way to hold the local/regional party chair of the offending party accountable send him/her to Levenworth also. Conspiracies to get “the other guys in trouble”, 5 years at Levenworth. If we can put people in space using computer technology that’s 25 years old we should be able to get voting right with a combo of new and old technology. If a person doesn’t want a credible vote from all perspectives, let them emmigrate to a country that routinely doesn’t have fair elections. [Yes, some of this is a bit of hyperbole.]

    For crying out loud, Iraqi’s allowed their finger to be dyed to prohibit muliple voting at the risk of bodily harm or death, and many in the US moan that the “Iraqis need to be more committed and involved in the building of their nation”.

    On a side note, many web sites have “souvenir” items that can be purchased. I suggest we follow the example of “Pajamas Media” and make up a logo tongue in cheek. Unfortunately, “I’m a Patterico Dittohead”, or “Another Patterico Dittohead” on a T-shirt or mug doesn’t sound that poetic. You could donate the proceeds to some charitable organization.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  19. Web Reconnaissance for 08/09/2007…

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often….

    The Thunder Run (59ce3a)

  20. MD in Philly:

    I suggest electronic voting with two printed paper “hard” copies. The voter gets one, one is kept at the precinct.

    Of course, that brings up the problem with paying for votes now that you have proof how the voter voted, and issues with intimidation. (Groups known to have done this in the past not named so as not to hijack the thread.) “Lemme see hows yous voted, dere.”

    Then there’s a centralized record of who voted for who. If there’s “secret balloting”, there’s no way to get rid of that error margin. In case of a recount, how would the 2 paper pieces matter, unless you could assemble every last one from the voters, and verify that they hadn’t been tampered with?

    Unix-Jedi (d657d9)

  21. Kudos for pointing out the security problems with electronic voting and that it’s not a partisan issue.

    It’s an issue of self-dealing by voting machine companies like Diebold and their representatives, who go from company to government jobs in a revolving door fashion. In San Diego County, our registrar of voters, who defends the Diebold machines, used to be a Diebold saleswoman peddling them. And she could go back to Diebold or another voting machine company later on.

    I wrote about this same topic a few days ago.

    The proposed changes in how states cast their electoral vote is quite a different issue. I don’t know where I’ll wind up on that. But my sense is that issue is not nearly as fundamental as ensuring that the votes are counted as accurately as possible.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  22. Just saw Dafydd’s complaint about the link button, and I strongly agree. The old way worked very well. It was a real pain fixing the link in my post. Hand-coding would have been easier for me.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  23. I was sloppy. I should have said the decision regarding equal protections calls into question the legitimacy of the election. That’s fine, but considering the historical lack of interest on the part of folks just like you (and folks you like) cynicism is not a charge you have any right to level. You’re lying to us, and myabe to yourself.

    Whether the majority intended it or not, its opinion — called a “novel expansion” of the law by Wake Forest University professor and 14th Amendment scholar Michael Kent Curtis — seems sure to swing open the barn door in terms of future election challenges based on equal protection and due process violations, simply because different counties use different election tallying methods. (So much for the “strict constructionist” judges Bush says he admires.)In retrospect, Gore’s Catch-22 should have been obvious. In writing a new statute for contesting election results last year, the Florida Legislature did not adopt a specific standard for counting disputed ballots in close races. Instead, like so many other states, the legislature left it to local election officials to inspect those ballots and determine “the intent of the voter.” (Legislators in Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia, take note: Your “intent of the voter” election statutes are now fraught with equal protection and due process problems.)
    When Florida’s Supreme Court ordered a recount of the undervotes, the non-specific “intent” standard was the only one it referenced. Why didn’t it propose nothing more definitive in terms of procedural directions, such as exactly who should count the ballots as well as how they should be counted or interpreted?
    The answer is that last week the U.S. Supreme Court had already vacated a state court ruling they feared might have trampled on the Florida Legislature’s constitutional authority to determine how presidential electors are chosen. So in their opinion last Friday, Florida’s Supreme Court justices — perhaps wary of being accused of rewriting state election laws after the fact — bent over backwards to cite legislative statutory language more than 50 times.

    That common sense approach cost them. Instead of determining that its Florida colleagues had exercised reasonable restraint by not creating new ballot-counting standards, the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority found instead an unconstitutional timidity, leading to its concern about “a situation where a state court with the power to assure uniformity has ordered a statewide recount with minimal procedural safeguards.”

    For fun, here’s your new friend Vincent Bugliosi: The Betrayal of America

    On Diebold et al you can start at Black Box Voting

    AF (4a3fa6)

  24. Dafydd –

    You object that optical-scan ballots’ paper trail “only comes into play if the cheating is so obvious, you need a recount.”

    Well, yes — but the same applies to touchscreen voting. If the cheating is done subtly enough, touchscreen voting gains you no advantage over optical scan. So this doesn’t advance your argument.

    And on the flipside, if someone decides that a recount is needed, optical scan wins over touchscreen hands-down. Yes, you can get a touchscreen machine to print out a “receipt” of each vote for manual counting — but you then have to trust that the machine printed an accurate “receipt”. Any cheater who hacks a touchscreen machine to make it tweak its results would also take pains to make it print “receipts” that match its reported results! Whereas with optical scan, the paper trail was not created by the suspect machine, but by the actual voter him/herself. Optical scan is a clear win here.

    I’ve been opposed to touchscreen voting ever since the 2000 elections, when it became obvious that a dependable paper trail, allowing for recounts, was a vital feature of any voting system. You disagree, and obviously believe that touchscreen voting is better. But all you’ve said to advance that argument is “I like touchscreen voting; always have.” You’ve argued that optical-scan and others are no better than touchscreen from a security standpoint, and I’ve demonstrated one area where I disagree and think that optical scan is better than touchscreen.

    Now it’s your turn. Persuade me that touchscreen is better than optical scan. Not just “I like touchscreen better,” but the reasons. Security, reliability, ease of recounts… What advantages do you believe touchscreen offers over optical scan in these areas?

    Robin Munn (752231)

  25. P.S. One good way to avoid the “subtle cheating” issue would be to mandate random recounts all over the place. A certain percentage (0.5%, 1%, 2%, whatever) of all polling places will be required to perform a manual recount immediately after the election and publish their results. “The voting machine registered 573 votes for the Republican candidate, and 730 votes for the Democratic candidate. Our manual recount counted 576 votes for the Republican candidate, and 731 votes for the Democratic candidate.”

    This would have two effects: first, anyone trying to tamper with voting machines would be forced to tamper with the random recount selection process, or risk their tampering being exposed. And I can think of some very easy tamper-proof ways to select counties randomly, one of the simplest being drawing tokens from a hat (or other container) in full view of cameras that would record that all the tokens went into the container, that the container was empty before hand, and that the person drawing the tokens was indeed blindfolded.

    The second effect would be that the published numbers would cause due confidence (or due lack of confidence) in the election results. If any county produced manual results out of proportion to its machine-reported results, a full statewide recount could be called for by the appropriate people.

    The disadvantage of this is that manual recounts are hard work, and performing a manual recount after every election would add a lot of work to the election process. But the question is, is insuring the security of, and trust in, the election results worth all that work? I’m starting to think that it would be.

    Robin Munn (752231)

  26. 1: I’m horrified by tying electors to congressional districts; it would exacerbate the negative effects of gerrymandering. I don’t mind proportional representation per se, just the tying.

    2: I’m *absolutely ecstatic* that Secretary Bowen has taken a hard line against insecure machines. I’m a software guy, and what I read in the technical reports was absolutely horrifying.

    3: Gahrie, at 2: while I haven’t read the text of the initiative, I doubt that very much; initiatives in California, generally speaking, just don’t work that way.

    4: Dafydd, at 13: you are correct that other systems are insecure. The problem with computerized systems is that they are insecure on a larger scale, and a larger number of votes can be manipulated by them. Additionally, while all systems are vulnerable to corruption of poll workers, touch screen systems are vulnerable to corruption of the entire process by *anyone who has access to the machine*.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if there were evidence that any of the vendors had designed their systems with security in mind; but it’s clear from the code review that *none of them* have.

    5: Robin, at 24, to be fair, the procedures in place in California (where voting machines are required to have a paper trail) require that the voter look at and approve the paper record. That said, I think it is questionable in practice how many people *do* verify their ballots before checking them.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  27. Patterico;

    Don’t you think it is time to look at the Electoral College as a vestigial organ of the body politic? In other words, hasn’t it outlived it’s usefulness? Or are you concerned about another
    invasion?

    “Going back to the American Revolution, at that time, there were 13 colonies under British control. These 13 colonies did not want to remain under the control of the King of England, so they basically “teamed up” and declared their independence from England. A war ensued and their defeat of England won their independence outright. But the colonial governments knew that this was not permanent. They knew that England would one day come to regain control over the rich, fertile colonies in the New World. The colonies knew that the only way to thwart such an attack in the future was to start building strong alliances with each other in the present. Over the next 10+ years after the war, the colonies explored different ways of strong unions that would not only guard against future invasions by Mexico, France, and England, but would be strong enough to discourage those invasions in the first place. Hence, the conclusion was that a permanent union needed to be formed, a union of independent sovereign states with a centralized limited government that could call on the states to defend each other in the future when necessary. Legal documents would be needed to establish such a union, something that required the leaders of all states to sign and be bound to. The Constitution was born and so was the United States.”

    http://www.maitreg.com/politics/articles/electoralcollege.asp

    Semanticleo (4741c2)

  28. Dafydd, @15: I’ve seen conservatives object to the close ties between Sequoia systems and the Venezuelan government. Please note that their systems were decertified, too.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  29. What would happen if we abolished the Electoral College?

    “This is basically common sense. What would happen when you decrease the power of government representation for a group of states? What if we abolished the U.S. Senate? This is exactly the same thing. Abolishing the Electoral College or Senate would reduce the government representation of the smallest states to make it illogical to remain in the Union. This has happened before, in 1860. I shouldn’t need to remind you of the 620,000 deaths over the next five years after that. You think that was bloody? Try abolishing the Electoral College or Senate in the 21st Century. You’ll see division in this country not seen since the War for Southern Independence Only this time, the two sides are not geographically separated. Our decades of racial, religious, and political integration in this country will come to haunt us in the future. It will be then when the nation’s integrity and peace are ultimately challenged. Can we divide into two nations peacefully with few problems or will the liberals insist that we fight another war? Is 10 million deaths worth a segment of the country retaining domination over the rest? Only time will tell. I hope and pray that future leaders will foresee the blood-shedding and prevent it before it’s too late.”

    This is the opposing view. Isn’t that what we have now?

    Semanticleo (4741c2)

  30. #29:

    So, abolishing the electoral college would lead to civil war? Count me unconvinced. Half the people in this country don’t even vote. And why haven’t we seen California and other large states, whose populace is vastly underrepresented in the Electoral College compared to Alaska and Wyoming, declare war on those smaller states? Besides, most of those small states have practically no influence already, as they’re ideologically homogeneous enough that their votes can be counted on, so no one pays attention to them except in the primaries.

    Russell (a32796)

  31. Spot on. One is reminded of Al Gore’s cynical attempt to manipulate the results in Florida by calling for a selective recount — even as he sanctimoniously pretended to ensure that we “count every vote” and “make every vote count.”

    Oh the irony of the fact that the counties Gore tried to steal were controlled by Democrats and were using Democrat designed ballots.

    N. O'Brain (5deb6d)

  32. So is this guy a “fully honest pundit” in this case? Money quote:

    If California does what No. 07-0032 calls for while everybody else is still going with winner take all by state, the real-world result will be to give Party B (in this case the Republicans) an unearned, Ohio-size gift of electoral votes. In a narrow sense, that’s good if you like Party B, but not so good if you like Party A (in this case the Democrats). Or if you think that in a democracy everybody ought to play by roughly the same rules. Nor, by the way, is Party B the only offender. Last week, the Democratic-controlled legislature of North Carolina, a state that has gone Republican in every Presidential election since 1976, enthusiastically took up a bill to do the same mischief as the California initiative. The grab would be smaller—it would appropriate perhaps three or four of North Carolina’s fifteen electoral votes for the Democrats—but the hands would be just as dirty.

    The California initiative flunks even the categorical-imperative test. Imagine, as a thought experiment, that all the states were to adopt this “reform” at once. Electoral votes would still be winner take all, only by congressional district rather than by state. Instead of ten battleground states and forty spectator states, we’d have thirty-five battleground districts and four hundred spectator districts. The red-blue map would be more mottled, and in some states more people might get to see campaign commercials, because media markets usually take in more than one district. But congressional districts are as gerrymandered as human ingenuity and computer power can make them. The electoral-vote result in ninety per cent of the country would still be a foregone conclusion, no matter how close the race.

    He said it.

    Russell (a32796)

  33. ” considering the historical lack of interest on the part of folks just like you (and folks you like) cynicism is not a charge you have any right to level. You’re lying to us, and myabe to yourself.”

    AF, a comment from an anonymous commenter who calls me a liar with zero evidence is worthless.

    In fact, it could be called a lie in and of itself, making the liar here you.

    Moderate your claims or back them up, my lying friend.

    Patterico (7677d8)

  34. I find it somewhat amazing that, seven years later, there is still an ongoing argument over the 2000 election. ISTM that this is an event in the past which we should, in general, be able to agree to disagree on.

    (FWIW, I thought the election was a statistical tie in that the results were within the voting system’s margin of error, and therefore either result would have been acceptable as long as the established-in-advance rules were followed).

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  35. Dana:

    And, of course, such a system would heavily favor Republicans!

    That’s right. Assigning electoral votes by district would be devastating to Democrats, with their votes concentrated in urban areas.

    Of course they don’t want to see such a system nationwide. They just want to carve off a small piece of the red states that they would lose anyway.

    If they succeed in doing that in NC, they will make it easier for other states to follow suit. Given a choice between short-term gratification and long-term security, Democrats will opt for the former every time.

    Glen Wishard (b1987d)

  36. Glen: I think most Democrats would be happy with such a system, unfortunately. Nor, given the fact that Congress had a Democratic majority for nearly forty continuous years, am I convinced that such a system would benefit Republicans as much as you seem to think.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  37. Hey, Dafydd – I’m not sure what you do for a living, but I build big computer systems. The problem with unreliable computer systems – as opposed to paper systems – is that it is quite possible to commit untraceable fraud within computer systems on a wholesale level. It’s much harder to do with paper, and in most cases paper systems have the advantage

    a) of requiring that fraud be done on the retail basis – meaning that you have to rob more 7/11’s (and are thus more likely to be caught) than you do banks; and

    b) of being reconstructible – if you disagree about the standards by which you counted something on paper, you can go back and look at the artifact. can’t do that with touch-screen.

    The specifics of the security holes are pretty egregious; I won’t bury them in a comment but simply suggest that you go read the red team and source code reviews on the SoS site, and show them to someone you trust who’s familiar with systems issues.

    As to this being a purely partisan issue for Bowen; I’ve known her since before she ran for office, and was in the room when this issue was first brought up. I’m happy to stake my (somewhat more bipartisan) reputation on her engaging this issue because – like Patrick and I – she sees it as the right thing to do. Period.

    You’re wrong on the basic facts here, and I’d really, really like to ask – as politely as I know how – that you go back, look at them as objectively as you can, and reconsider.

    A.L.

    Armed Liberal (7ef425)

  38. Patterico

    Have you read the Princton paper and Diebolds rebuttal?

    Its interesting reading and instead of getting into a Kennedesque style argument electronic voting can also give feedback that only a user could know and can determine even if their vote was counted – I’m saying this is where it could go

    No I’m not a lobbiest for Diebold and I don’t own an I-phone or blackberry

    Do you want the links – I can look for them what both Princton and Diebold said was it was nearly impossible to steal an election without detection

    That somehow got lost in the chorus of concern

    EricPWJohnson (92aae0)

  39. Armed Liberal

    Diebold machines are independent systems and are unhackable, they have to be broken into chips have to be removed, fake reprogrammed chips have to be inserted, rebooted (which emits a loud sound) and then is ready for fraud

    Possible, yes, a child could do it if they knew someone who had the oem chips and an diebold oem chip burner and could do every machine in enough precincts and had enough fake ids to get to that many machines with poll watchers, officials etc

    So in Philly Maaaaybe :)

    Yes it can be done, but could it be done?

    EricPWJohnson (92aae0)

  40. Diebold machines are independent systems and are unhackable

    This review of the source code by independant analysts says you are wrong. So does this report by the team which attempted to hack them.

    Like Armed Liberal, I build complicated software systems as a profession. In my estimation, the mistakes made in this software mean that it is not trustworthy for *any* mission critical application.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  41. If Diebold systems are so hackable, I’d appreciate some help with the ATM down the street.

    My car’s brakes have been acting up lately, and it would be nice to give the autoshop cash.

    Teche (c003f1)

  42. Teche: the fact that Diebold’s election systems are hackable doesn’t necessarily mean their ATMs are. They are different pieces of software, almost certainly designed by different teams, using a different specification. It’s fairly difficult to judge one software project by the failures or successes of a different one.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  43. Pat, today you made the effort to sound generous but then for some reason you had to add a bit of gratuitous hackery, red meat for the company trolls I guess just to show that you hadn’t gone soft. I called you on it because no one else here would.
    Lies or bullshit, your choice.
    But heres’s Jack Balkin [PDF]: Bush v. Gore and the Boundary Between Law and Politics

    And there’s plenty more
    and more http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2005/11/22/scalia/index.html

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the high court did not inject itself into the 2000 presidential election.
    Speaking at the Time Warner Center last night, Scalia said: “The election was dragged into the courts by the Gore people. We did not go looking for trouble.”
    But he said the court had to take the case.
    “The issue was whether Florida’s Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court [would decide the election.] What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn’t important enough?”

    AF (4a3fa6)

  44. Robin Munn:

    Now it’s your turn. Persuade me that touchscreen is better than optical scan. Not just “I like touchscreen better,” but the reasons. Security, reliability, ease of recounts… What advantages do you believe touchscreen offers over optical scan in these areas?

    That’s impossible. You aesthetically dislike touchscreen and always have. And you always will.

    My point is not to claim that touchscreen is “better” than any other way of voting; rather, I argue that it’s not demonstrably worse (for all the huffing and puffing), and the choice — when there is no definitive answer — should be up to the voters.

    The reasons I have been given for why we should never have touchscreen voting are: (a) it’s like Disneyland; (b) it’s too high tech; (c) it’s silly; (d) it’s like television, and so forth… never anything substantial, always about aesthetics (and an undercurrent of censoriousness that we would do anything different from what the speaker grew up with… it was good enough for Pappy, it was good enough for Grandpappy…!)

    As far as manual recounts, any touchscreen system can print out a record of the vote, and the voter can drop it in a box at the polling place after checking it. There’s your paper record.

    Is touchscreen vulnerable to massive vote fraud schemes? Yes. And so is every other method of voting… even including optical scanners. There is no infallible method of guarding the vote; each depends ultimately upon the honesty of the people who administer the election, and there is no getting around that.

    Touchscreen is no more vulnerable than any other method, so there is no reason to decertify it. If you are more comfortable voting optical, I have no problem with that: Vote as you prefer.

    It would be nice if you extended the same courtesy to me, but perhaps that’s too much to ask.

    Aphrael:

    Dafydd, at 13: you are correct that other systems are insecure. The problem with computerized systems is that they are insecure on a larger scale, and a larger number of votes can be manipulated by them.

    Dude, every system is a “computerized system.” They are all insecure on the same scale.

    Most states have millions of votes to count. You either use a computer or you count by hand. Counting by hand is, in fact, less reliable than using a machine (for all the huffing and puffing on that subject, too).

    I’ve seen conservatives object to the close ties between Sequoia systems and the Venezuelan government.

    I’ve also seen conservatives say we should pull all our troops out of foreign countries and instead put the Army on the Mexican border, to stop the “real invasion.” So what?

    There is no connection between Hugo Chavez and Sequoia Voting Systems; it’s an urban legend based almost entirely on the fact that Sequoia was purchased by another company that was founded by three Venezuelan engineers a decade ago. Hey, one Venezuelan is pretty much just like another, eh?

    Alas, conservatives and Republicans are as vulnerable to believing nonsense as liberals and Democrats.

    Armed Liberal

    The problem with unreliable computer systems – as opposed to paper systems – is that it is quite possible to commit untraceable fraud within computer systems on a wholesale level.

    So how do you count your paper?

    You had an “experiment” demonstrating that if a team of hackers could take a machine into their lab and have full access to the guts, for as long as they wanted, they could reprogram it. Wow.

    And all they need do to make it “untraceable” is also get into the bin of paper records, steal them, and replace them with identical-looking papers with matching serial numbers, but which have a different vote printed on them… a mere bagatelle!

    As a builder of “big computer systems,” I have a challenge for you: Take a machine that counts optical scantrons into a lab, take as long as you want, and use a team of top hackers. Do you think you might be able to reprogram it to miscount votes?

    And then, if you simply get into the bin of paper vote cards, steal them, and replace them with identical-looking cards with matching serial numbers, but which have different votes marked on them, you’re in business. Oh, and in both cases, so long as none of the dozens or hundreds of people involved in the vote fraud talks.

    By the way, A.L.; anent Bowen: How is she on using U.S. attorneys to prosecute voter fraud cases in California? What was her reaction to the Sanchez Sisters facilitation of registering and allowing votes from non-citizen Hispanics? Did Debra Bowen rise up and demand a full, independent investigation… because, after all, it’s “the right thing to do,” period?

    Or did she close ranks and support her fellow Democrat? Inquiring minds want to know (and so do I).

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  45. AF,

    I already explained that I welcome dissension and contrary opinion but I don’t appreciate name-calling or insults — especially when accompanied by incoherence.

    Calling my arguments lies and bullshit, with the absolute lack of any argument to back it up, adds nothing. Shape up, please.

    Patterico (086fd4)

  46. These Miss Havisham democrats are beyond redemption. Almost seven years and they still can’t give up. Do they still wear the same clothes like the character in the movie of the Dickens novel?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  47. apreal

    http://www6.diebold.com/dieboldes/pdf/princetonstatement.pdf

    Same test in California you have to break into the machine, remove parts, hack through the source code, reprogram the memory chips, individually resign them independent serial numbers, return the chips put back the 18 screws and reboot the machine

    Maybe in Hazard County on TV it could work, Maybe

    EricPWJohnson (92aae0)

  48. War for Southern Independence

    I always thought of it as the War of Northern Aggression

    Hoario (a549f7)

  49. Is touchscreen vulnerable to massive vote fraud schemes? Yes. And so is every other method of voting… even including optical scanners. There is no infallible method of guarding the vote; each depends ultimately upon the honesty of the people who administer the election, and there is no getting around that.

    You can say that again. A late arriving box of paper ballots from Jim Wells County gave Lyndon Johnson the Democratic nomination for US Senator in 1948. “Interestingly, Johnson never admitted to any wrongdoing in the election, but in an interview with Ronnie Dugger in the early-1970s, Johnson shocked Dugger by showing him a picture of the Jim Wells County officials smiling and holding the Precinct 13 ballot box. When Dugger asked what it meant and how Johnson had received it, LBJ said nothing and grinned. A few years later, Dugger interviewed Luis Salas-a Parr man and the head official at Precinct 13 in 1948. Salas admitted the late returns were fraudulent. Then Dugger was shocked when Salas pulled out a photograph-the same photograph LBJ had shown him a few years earlier!”

    Victories in Illinois and Texas gave the JFK-LBJ ticket the White House in 1960. Chicago’s Daley machine has long used tactics like the ones outlined in Pp 270-279 to give Democratic candidates in Illinois.

    If Democrats lose the election they will say it was stolen whatever the type of ballot used.

    Stu707 (adbb5a)

  50. Patterico:

    “As to the general fairness issue, I fail to see how it is any more “unfair” for North Carolina or California to unilaterally reduce its own influence in Presidential elections than it is for Nebraska and Maine to do the same already. It may not be a good idea from the perspective of Republicans here or Democrats there, but I fail to see the fairness issue.”

    I fail to see how you could miss it. Was it fair for AlGore to have a selective recount in Florida? Discuss.

    1. Al Gore isn’t Florida.
    2. Al Gore’s proposed rule was based on nothing except a base desire to help Al Gore.
    3. Most importantly, Al Gore’s rule came after the fact. Suppose he had announced prior to the election that whatever happened in those three counties, he wants a recount, dammit, the only question is whether he’s entitled to one. Bizarre, sure, but not inherently unfair. For all he knew in advance of the election, a recount in any county might have hurt rather than helped, as overvotes were no less likely than undervotes (and, according to Kaus, were probably the bigger problem, anyway).

    Aphrael:

    I’m horrified by tying electors to congressional districts; it would exacerbate the negative effects of gerrymandering. I don’t mind proportional representation per se, just the tying.

    Forest, meet trees. If we can all agree that perfectly-drawn, non-gerrymandered Congressional districts are a better system for determining electoral votes, the worst gerrymandering in the world will produce a fairer result than the winner-take-all system we have now. Think about it: the worst gerrymandering does to party numbers is to increase the majority’s power by a few seats; is that really worse than giving all the seats to the majority and shutting out the minority altogether?

    Xrlq (6c2116)

  51. glad to hear patterico apparently opposing a measure in california which would give his party another 20 electoral votes in the next election.

    i believe that vote-counting transparency is a matter of constitutional dimension, and that vote-counting machines running secret, proprietary software are unconstitutional.

    assistant devil's advocate (70e563)

  52. Daffyd, I’ll suggest you read what I wrote as a starting place, take a deep breath, and think. You can absolutely hack Scantrons. BUT YOU HAVE PAPER BALLOTS TO GO REVERIFY THE OUTCOME. And you can recount them on a new Scantron, by hand, etc. etc. etc. Go look at the actual history in Florida in 2000 – imagine what it would have been like with a swing of 500 votes and no possible verification.

    No bank would allow transactions like those in a Diebold or Sierra voting machine to count on an ATM – and there are counterparties to bank transactions. No $0.50 video poker machine would be allowed to be placed anywhere in Nevada with the kinds of security flaws that are proven present in the machines these manufacturers want to use to count our votes.

    No technology professional I know who doesn’t work for one of the DVR companies says that they are OK to use … go read Tim Oren’s blog. Tim’s a committed R, but knows his technology.

    You’re letting your partisan commitment stand in front of your commitment as a citizen. I am not interested in hearing it from the Left, and I’m not interested in hearing it from the Right.

    If you’re a Republican before you’re an American, you’ve got problems bigger than I can deal with.

    A.L.

    Armed Liberal (9b95ff)

  53. I simply do not trust the Dems enough on this issue, at least not enough to believe that they are acting in good faith. Since before Kennedy and the dead Chicagoans electing him, the Dems have controlled the ballot box. We have gone through the arguments on this ad nauseum, and as long as their position is that it is too burdensome to require somebody that wants to vote to prove who they are, they I will not take their position seriously. All the voting systems in the world will not work unless we ensure that the people voting are who they say they are, and that they are legally entitled to vote. As is, garbage in, garbage out.

    JD (06a9d8)

  54. Dafydd, with all due respect, you’re clueless on the issues here (except for the politics of them, which seems to be all you care about).

    Read what I wrote; the answer to your challenge is clearly there. I can hack Scantrons – but I still have the ballots to count later on. I can bring in a box of fake ballots – but I can only do a few at each polling place, so I need legions of fraudsters to commit hundreds if not thousands of individual acts of fraud in order to have a meaningful impact.

    You’re completely stuck on this as a partisan issue. Bluntly, if being a Republican is more important to you than being an American – tough.

    A.L.

    Armed Liberal (9b95ff)

  55. AL – I agree it should not be a partisan issue. But it is. The Dems have made the voting system into a mockery, claiming disenfranchisement prior to election day, and making routine occurrences on election day, waiting in line, polls, opening late, etc … into unfounded allegations of some grand conspiracy to steal elections. It almost seems like it is their desire to erode any remaining faith in the electoral system.

    JD (06a9d8)

  56. Isn’t it time to do away with the Electoral College all together and simply hold the Presidential election by popular vote nationwide? No more swing states and no new swing districts. What we have now is simply a popular vote on a state by state basis, but no one is trying to gerrymander the states. Adding gerrymandering into Presidential elections is just a bad, bad idea in my mind.

    And maybe I’m missing something here, but wouldn’t “award[ing] the state’s electoral votes based on who wins each congressional district” if held on a national basis essentially mean that the winning candidate for President automatically also has the majority in the House (at least for the first two years)? Is that always a good idea?

    Bob Loblaw (23d1c4)

  57. No, Bob, the President would not have a majority in the House automatically, because the House candidate is also a separately elected office.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  58. Pat, a full hand recount would have given the election to Gore, he was under time pressure and as it is time ran out, or at least the Supremes said so. Your point was bogus and you know it; you made it to score political points with those who believe what they’re told by you.
    Ban me or not, I don’t care, but bullshit is bullshit.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  59. JD – as someone who’s been “under the hood” on Election Day in a couple of elections, it’s definitely true that both sides “game the system” in ways that are advantageous – in big cities, Dems try and turn out everyone who can walk – and pay ACORN for bogus registrations – and the GOP does what it can to keep non-likely-GOP-voters from coming out. Both sides have people who have eaten the State’s baloney sandwiches (been behind bars) for their shenenigans. I’d like to see this as a first step toward serious fairness – and I’d love to see both sides (as Patrick & I have) come together and demand it.

    From a comment on my blog –

    “I’m opposed to electronic voting because it’s not right that our leaders should be chosen by Russian computer hackers, instead of by illegals and dead people.”

    A.L.

    Armed Liberal (9b95ff)

  60. And JD – had Gore’s people been fair enough to demand a standardized and full statewide recount – he would have won, and he might have even deserved it.

    But they gamed the system, and had the FL court standards they requested been upheld and the US Supreme Court not stayed the recount, Bush would have won.

    So it was, in legal-technical terms, a porridge.

    A.L.

    Armed Liberal (9b95ff)

  61. AF, full hand recounts would have given the election to Bush under every standard but one. Gore demanded a partial recount, not for reasons of time, but for partisan advantage. Anyone who argues otherwise is a liar and full of bullshit. That includes you.

    This is tit for tat, but I don’t like it. Banning is imminent if you can’t refrain from unsupported attacks like this.

    I won’t miss you a bit.

    Patterico (8b28ce)

  62. AL – I have no beef with any of what you just said. My biggest complaint is that one side of the political spectrum seems hell bent on destroying the remaining shreds of faith in the electoral system.

    I will give you an example, locally. In Indianapolis, in the most recent primaries, there were 5 precincts in Marion County (Indianapolis proper) that never opened on election day, and countless others that opened late, closed early, were short of ballots, etc … All of this was the responsibility of an elected Democrat, who to her credit, acknowledged the mistakes. However, there was still a cry that somehow a Republican governor and a Republican Sec. of State were responsible for the actions of a Dem office holder, and spun that there was an attempt to suppress the vote in the urban core of Indianpolis.

    If this happened during a Presidential election, this kind of fiasco would have made Florida look like a walk in the park.

    Until both R’s and D’s can agree on some common sense regulations that include identification, all the arguing about paper ballots and electronic systems is pointless.

    JD (06a9d8)

  63. Florida recount study: Bush still wins

    I can’t believe we’re still talking about this.

    Pablo (99243e)

  64. Ah Robin, I see what I was missing – reading comprehension! Thanks.

    Bob Loblaw (23d1c4)

  65. Here ya go Pat:

    The study’s key result: When the consortium tried to simulate a recount of all uncounted ballots statewide using six different standards for what constituted a vote, under each scenario they found enough new votes to have narrowly given the Florida election–and by extension the presidency–to Al Gore. Under three models that attempted to duplicate the various partial recounts that were asked for by Gore or ordered by the Florida Supreme Court, however, Bush maintained a slight margin of victory.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  66. Pablo, some people don’t play well with others. Run with scissors and don’t share the Legos.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  67. But statewide recounts will never show how many Bush votes were lost in the Florida panhandle when the networks called it way early for Gore.

    Paul (a47125)

  68. I can’t believe we’re still talking about this.

    Neither can I. Seven years ago…old history in Clintontown.

    Paul (a47125)

  69. “I suggest electronic voting with two printed paper “hard” copies. The voter gets one, one is kept at the precinct.” – MD

    “Of course, that brings up the problem with paying for votes now that you have proof how the voter voted, and issues with intimidation. (Groups known to have done this in the past not named so as not to hijack the thread.) “Lemme see hows yous voted, dere.”
    Then there’s a centralized record of who voted for who. If there’s “secret balloting”, there’s no way to get rid of that error margin. In case of a recount, how would the 2 paper pieces matter, unless you could assemble every last one from the voters, and verify that they hadn’t been tampered with?”
    – Comment by Unix-Jedi — 8/9/2007 @ 7:20 am

    Thank you for your comments, Unix-Jedi

    Paying for votes is a problem anyway. Voter intimidation- make it a crime with a stiff enough penalty to make people think at least twice.

    My thoughts on the two paper system are these.
    1. The voter gets to see on paper a confirmation of what he/she voted. Still needs to trust the machine doesn’t print one thing but record something else, up for confirmation. Can keep or throw out if wants.
    2. Second is to be kept to compare manual count to machine in recount. Should be obvious and no room to second guess chads, marks, etc.

    If there is a conspiracy big enough that observers from both parties cooperate to both hack the computer and mess with the paper trail, that’s trouble in more ways than one.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  70. Does anyone in CA believe that we would have gone on this search for the Holy Grail of voting if the GOP controlled the Legislature.

    Punch cards (which were used in the majority of counties – especially the high-population ones) were not a problem in this state. We got stampeded by the media love for the FL controversy.

    CA law spelled out very succinctly what was a valid ballot – and no amount of hanging/dimpled/pregnant chads were going to change that. As an example: A chad had to be COMPLETELY detached from the card for the vote to count. Which is why every voting booth had instructions posted to check the card and remove any loose chads that had failed to detach themselves during the punching.

    This country has now gone on a seven year snipe-hunt costing billions and billions of dollars for what? Absolutely Nothing!

    If anything, we are in worse shape today than we were in 1999. At least then, we were confident that in most cases, we were getting an honest count (certain counties in South Texas, plus Cook County, IL are always doubtful).

    If the MSM wasn’t in the back-pocket of the Dems, the actions by AlGore in FL would have been laughed off of the front pages onto the entertainment pages. Imagine, having voter problems in counties controlled by Dems, and complaining that the GOP was stealing votes in those counties.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  71. Isn’t it time to do away with the Electoral College all together and simply hold the Presidential election by popular vote nationwide? No more swing states and no new swing districts. What we have now is simply a popular vote on a state by state basis, but no one is trying to gerrymander the states. Adding gerrymandering into Presidential elections is just a bad, bad idea in my mind.

    It’s also a complete lack of perspective on your part. I think abolishing the Electoral College is a stupid idea, but that’s neither here nor there. The issue is the status quo vs. electoral votes by Congressional district. If awarding electoral votes by Congressional district is gerrymandering, assigning all electoral votes in an entire state to a single party is gerrymandering on steroids. The U.S. Senate is the most gerrymandered political body in the country, if not the planet.

    Xrlq (6c2116)

  72. I see no reason to change the structure of the electoral process. In order to do so, one would have to provide a compelling argument to get rid of the system that we have in place. Is the status quo perfect? Nope, not by a long shot. But, absent Gore, it has served us well to date.

    JD (06a9d8)

  73. Doing away with the Electoral College changes the USofA from a Republic, to a Democracy. Democracies do not, historically, last very long – most never lasted as long as this Constitutional Republic has.

    If anything, we might consider repealing the 17th Amendment to restore more of the Republic, and make Senators responsible to power centers that are accountable to voters. It is interesting to note that since ratification of the 17th, one would be hard pressed to identify Senators of the stature of Henry Clay, John Calhoun, Daniel Webster, and others of the 19th Century.

    As to the question at hand (proportional voting in the Electoral College): If that is what the country wants, then have someone in the House submit a Constitutional Amendment, and we’ll have a grand debate from sea-to-shining-sea.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  74. Armed Liberal:

    You’re letting your partisan commitment stand in front of your commitment as a citizen….

    You’re completely stuck on this as a partisan issue. Bluntly, if being a Republican is more important to you than being an American – tough.

    Let me get your reasoning straight: You believe that I like touchscreen voting because it’s good for Republicans?

    Maybe you can explain that one to me, for I confess the connection eludes me.

    There are touchscreen systems that produce a paper record of the vote; the record has a unique serial number; the record can be examined by the voter, then is dropped into a box, just as a paper scantron would be.

    This produces a paper record just like the scantron… a record that can be counted by hand, if necessary.

    Oh, I forgot: Someone from Venezuela had something to do with a company that later bought out the company that makes these touchscreen machines, Sequoia Voting Systems. Obviously we can’t use it.

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  75. I’m not sure what side Miss Havisham, err AF, is arguing anymore. By its own citation:
    “Under three models that attempted to duplicate the various partial recounts that were asked for by Gore or ordered by the Florida Supreme Court, however, Bush maintained a slight margin of victory.”
    Paul Krugman at the Times was forced to recant his crapola about Gore winning. A statewide recount was never in the cards. Patterico’s statement in the original post was correct as it stood. Miss Havisham’s own citation even provides support for a Bush win if Gore had prevailed in his challenges. Some people just can’t move on with their lives.

    daleyrocks (588d22)

  76. d’rocks you don’t pay attention, and you should.
    The argument was not about the vote count as per Gore’s request it was about whether the democrats played hardball or wimped out. Secondary to that was the subject of the vote itself about which which Pat again is either ignorant or disingenuous.
    I don’t know which and and I care.

    Pat claims the Dems played games with their requests- under time limitations and pressure from the media and others. But the fact remains compared with the “voter cleansing” program, Katherine Harris, and the Brooks Brothers riot, Gore and co. played the game like choir boys, and that was stupid. The fact as well is that Gore won the popular vote and with a full recount measured by the intent of the voter, Gore won the election. Sorry Pat, you;re wrong. But hey, politics is politics and Gore played the game like shit, even before Scalia stopped the clock. Still somehow Pat blathering about Gore the cynic in the face of everything else was a bit too much: I thought that before and I think that now. Pat, go get WLS to tell us again about voter fraud and how Abu Gonzalez is a great attorney general and how its the democrats who are politicizing Justice. You have a losing case. Everything you defend has turned into a fucking disaster, at least outside your own mind. But keep trying. Your faithful love you.

    And enough with the threats to ban me as if somehow it would affect my ability to pay the rent. You’re not my boss. I don’t have a boss I have a broker. And what you think of as punishment doesn’t mean much. I never wrote here for your idiot commenters or even for you but to see if there were others who read you and might want something more. That’s why I cut and paste so much. The fact that that pisses people off still amazes me. Why listen to experts?
    But some people have followed the links I sure.
    Anyway I lost patience a while ago. So ban me if you want.
    But lies or obfuscations, you’ve become more of a hack than ever recently.

    I hear Fred Thompson’s comparing himself to George Washington now.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  77. Pat blathering
    Abu Gonzalez
    Everything you defend has turned into a fucking disaster
    never wrote here for your idiot commenters or even for you
    you’ve become more of a hack

    Way to debate substance on the merits, AF.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  78. full recount measured by the intent of the voter

    This means “any stray marking that we could conceivably count as a vote for Gore”.

    Why in the world is the Left so hell bent on pointing out that Gore won the popular vote? That matters not one teensy tiny little bit.

    The Dems are politicizing justice. Period. Clinton fired all of the USA’s, and nary a word from the Left. Bush fires 9 of his own appointees, and the freaking sky is falling.

    At least it was all orignal material, and now we know why he cuts and pastes all the time.

    JD (06a9d8)

  79. Maybe it saves him time so he can call his broker…

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  80. It’s all about you AF and it always has been. You write like this is you blog and demand Patrick cover subjects that you want covered, because, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU. You are nowhere near as smart as you think, which is why everyone laughs at you on the rare occasions you actually write something not stolen from somewhere else. Stale talking points and unoriginal thinking are all that you have to offer.

    This was beautiful AF – “Anyway I lost patience a while ago. So ban me if you want” – No one is holding you hostage here if you have lost patience. Nice try at victimhood.

    I guess we just don’t appreciate your brilliance (snort). Maybe you should go into politics, with your people skills, you could go far.

    BTW, my comment 75 stood on its own. You also have a serious, serious problem with reading comprehension and analysis. You won’t need either of those as a liberal politician, only a bag to hold the cash. Patterico was also right. You began making arguments he did not raise in his post, again, your problem with comprehension.

    daleyrocks (588d22)

  81. Maybe it’s the laziness that causes him to cut and paste his substantive “ideas” that also causes him to be a poor reader?

    Spam Alert! (92b8f7)

  82. For the record… that last comment was made by I.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  83. You’re not my boss. I don’t have a boss I have a broker.

    $20 at 2-1 says that AF is not living off his huge investment income!

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  84. Dafydd, at 44:
    They are all insecure on the same scale.

    That simply isn’t the case.

    I’ve worked as a poll worker in every election since 1992, and I’ve worked as a software engineer since 1994. I’m well familiar with the ways that software can be perverted, and with the way elections are insecure.

    With an optical scanner system, you can stuff the “ballot box” by throwing extra ballots in, but it’s next to impossible to encode something on a single optical scanner ballot which will undermine the counting of the other ballots.

    With the Hart system (the one i’m the most familiar with because it’s the one in use in my county), you can attach a device to a port which is *accessible in the booth*, without being seen, that will alter the recorded results of every vote in the precinct.

    That’s not the same scale at all.

    I’ve also seen conservatives say we should pull all our troops out of foreign countries and instead put the Army on the Mexican border, to stop the “real invasion.” So what?

    My point is that this isn’t a partisan witch hunt against Diebold, who happens to be disliked by liberals, and that this is demonstrated by the fact that it treats Diebold identically to a system which conservatives happen to dislike.

    EricPWJohnson, at 47:
    you have to break into the machine, remove parts, hack through the source code, reprogram the memory chips, individually resign them independent serial numbers, return the chips put back the 18 screws and reboot the machine

    Again, that simply isn’t the case. Instead of using the smart card handed to you by a precinct worker, you could use one preprogrammed to steal the election. See issue 5.2.7 in the California report I linked above.

    JD, at 62:
    Until both R’s and D’s can agree on some common sense regulations that include identification, all the arguing about paper ballots and electronic systems is pointless.

    I disagree: the systems currently being suspended in California are manifestly insecure, and it’s much easier to get them fixed now than it will be once their use is entrenched. Even with your commonsense regulations, these machines are not trustworthy.

    MD in Philly, at 69:
    Paying for votes is a problem anyway

    It’s more of a problem when a voter can prove how they have voted.

    Another Drew, at 70:
    Does anyone in CA believe that we would have gone on this search for the Holy Grail of voting if the GOP controlled the Legislature.

    The California legislature has not been involved in any way in the decision to adopt electronic voting; that has been driven by a combination of changes in federal law (the Help America Vote Act) and the desire of county elections officials to be more voter friendly.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  85. If awarding electoral votes by Congressional district is gerrymandering, assigning all electoral votes in an entire state to a single party is gerrymandering on steroids. The U.S. Senate is the most gerrymandered political body in the country, if not the planet.

    That’s one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard.

    The problem with gerrymandering is that it allows the party currently in power to creatively draw lines so as to break voters down into groups in a way that reinforces their power. Because state lines never change, the states aren’t gerrymandered.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  86. Daffyd, I long felt as you did about electronic ballots, particularly in connection with shrill demands that they MUST provide printed copies of the voter’s ballot. I have since changed my mind, at least on the requirement for the machine to print a hard-copy of the ballot (though it should definitely be in a form which the voter CANNOT take home, to protect the secret ballot).

    The reason is that, while certainly machines can be made extremely difficult to crack, it’s not really possible to prove to the satisfaction of partisans on both sides that it hasn’t in fact been cracked. The computer programming is, and will always be in the minds of most of the population, a black box, a magical instrument whose inner workings they may understand intellectually, but whose specific workings they cannot directly observe.

    So I support a requirement for some kind of paper ballot as a back-up not because the touch-screen system is inherently insecure, but because it is just not provably secure in a manner which the average voter is ever likely to accept in a close race. And acceptance of the result, even in a close case, is pretty important in a democracy like ours. Many more Floridas, and we really will be torn apart.

    PatHMV (7f2300)

  87. PatHMV:

    I don’t recall ever opposing a printout of the vote for e-voting systems; in fact, I’ve always thought it was a great idea… so long as the printout is then dropped into a box on the way out of the precinct.

    Aphrael:

    I understand your point now about conservatives complaining about some machine, but it’s irrelevant to the partisanship issue: There is no general Republican belief that touchscreen voting is rigged to help Democrats.

    But an enormous number of Democrats passionately (and delusionally) believe that there is a vast, right-wing conspiracy to rig Diebold machines so they will only elect Republicans. Thus, Bowen plays to the nutroots by decertifying, hence banning, touchscreen voting.

    * * *

    If you have a specific recommendation that would make one particular touchscreen-voting machine less vulnerable to attack, I have no objection. What I object to is being told that I can’t vote touchscreen, when there is no valid reason why not — except anti-GOP partisanship and prejudice.

    It can’t be particularly difficult to disable that port after initializing the machine, and then reenable it after voting ends, if you need it to transmit voting information to the central counting machine. If nothing else, you could plug a dummy connector into the port, then duct-tape over it. I think ripping off the tape, prying out the dummy plug, and sticking something else in there instead would probably be noticed.

    Since the machines have to be set up anyway (they don’t reside permanently in the rooms that are used as polling places on election day), let’s make that part of the setup for those voting machines.

    But what about other voting systems? I don’t recall seeing any obvious port on the machine where I have voted the last few years; and we’re also not inside a closed booth… if a person went monkeying around behind the machine, it would be clearly and easily visible to the precinct workers in the polling place. At least it would at the Jackie Robinson Center, where we do touchscreen voting.

    By the way, here in California, touchscreen voting is only allowed before the normal election. On election day, you can’t use touchscreen… you must go to your regular polling place.

    Thus, touchscreen votes could easily be quarantined, if anyone were caught using such a device. And there are a lot fewer people per hour voting touchscreen in any event, so it’s much easier for precinct workers to keep an eye on things.

    * * *

    If I were a hacker and wanted to hack into the voting system, I wouldn’t try to do it by making a cheat device and carrying it from polling place to polling place, trying to sneak it into the port during the vote. That’s a great way to get caught committing a felony, and an immediate alert would go out to the entire state, resulting in a quarantine of the e-vote until every machine could be checked and all recorded votes matched with the corresponding paper printouts.

    Instead, I would get a job working on the central tabulation server, and I would hack it to double-count batches of ballots received from any source (touchscreen, absentee, ordinary punchcard or optical scanners), from known Democratic or known Republican precincts (depending which way I wanted to throw the election).

    That way, not only would the votes line up with the precincts (you wouldn’t get a huge Democratic vote from the Inland Empire or a gigantic GOP surge from San Francisco), but even the pattern would look right… you wouldn’t have 850 ballots in a row all voting straight Republican.

    * * *

    Frankly, I don’t believe there are enough touchscreen voters to throw an election; the vast majority aren’t comfortable voting that way. So anyone with an interest in cheating would find another target for his felonious endeavors.

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  88. aphrael @ 84:
    Yes, the counties select the voting system in CA, but it is the Legislature that pays for it, since all of the prop tax money ends up in Sacramento, then is parcelled back to the Counties, Cities, and Municipal/School Districts. No County Registrar in a large population county such as Los Angeles, is going to commit the county to spend untold millions switching systems without a prior guarantee from the state that they will pay the tab.

    But, this was done because it fit into the mind-set that had developed within the Dem Party that punch-card systems (which were the prevelant system in use in CA prior to 2000) were fatally flawed due to the problems of incompetent old fools voters in Palm Beach County.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  89. Sorry for the offense; but, “old fools” in the final sentance was supposed to be a strike-over.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  90. Dafyyd – I hate to pile on the wounded, you’re demonstrating how little you understand the problem here.

    “…I wouldn’t try to do it by making a cheat device and carrying it from polling place to polling place, trying to sneak it into the port during the vote.”

    The whole point of the network vulnerabilities is that with the existing DRV systems you don’t have to do that. That’s why those of us who have looked at the problem are so unhappy about them.

    “I would get a job working on the central tabulation server, and I would hack it to double-count batches of ballots received from any source (touchscreen, absentee, ordinary punchcard or optical scanners), from known Democratic or known Republican precincts (depending which way I wanted to throw the election).

    That way, not only would the votes line up with the precincts (you wouldn’t get a huge Democratic vote from the Inland Empire or a gigantic GOP surge from San Francisco), but even the pattern would look right… you wouldn’t have 850 ballots in a row all voting straight Republican.”

    Look, every precinct turns in a vote count at the end of the day (and during the day local campaign workers check to see how many people (and who) have voted on the publicly accessible precinct lists. So you’re going to take a precinct where 850 people have voted, and count 1700 ballots?

    “Frankly, I don’t believe there are enough touchscreen voters to throw an election; the vast majority aren’t comfortable voting that way. So anyone with an interest in cheating would find another target for his felonious endeavors.”

    So why is banning them a problem then? (note that you’re wrong – in counties where touchscreens are widely available (NIC LA and Orange, I’m pretty sure), very few election-day voters choose to vote on paper ballots. I’ll dig some #’s up and post them later.)

    Honestly, you just don’t have enough basic domain knowledge to talk about the mechanics of this stuff. Please, go sit with folks who have done precinct work and who know systems and talk to them. Do some due-diligence before you take such a strong position. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll see things differently.

    A.L.

    Armed Liberal (9b95ff)

  91. By the way, here in California, touchscreen voting is only allowed before the normal election. On election day, you can’t use touchscreen… you must go to your regular polling place.

    You have to go to your polling place, yes. But the touch screen machines have been used in polling places in multiple counties for several years. I have worked in a precinct in such a county.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  92. The problem with gerrymandering is that it allows the party currently in power to creatively draw lines so as to break voters down into groups in a way that reinforces their power.

    Right. Now please explain why the current system is better, in which the party in power helps itself to 100% of the electoral votes, than it would be under a system in which the party in power only collects its proportional share, plus the 2 or 3 extra districts it is able to gerrymander for itself.

    Conversely, to the extent that you think it is fairer to allow the party in power to help itself to 100% of the vote rather than only its proportional share plus whatever extra it can gerrymander for itself, would you favor the same approach toward Congressional districts?

    Xrlq (9d319c)

  93. What i’d like to see set up for congressional districts is a system wherein citizens, drafted in a manner similar to jury duty, draw district borders. Attaching electors to borders drawn in this manner would be fine with me.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  94. Armed Liberal:

    For someone basing his entire argument on his own expertise in a subject, you are remarkably unforthcoming about why what I said is wrong:

    “…I wouldn’t try to do it by making a cheat device and carrying it from polling place to polling place, trying to sneak it into the port during the vote.”

    The whole point of the network vulnerabilities is that with the existing DRV systems you don’t have to do that. That’s why those of us who have looked at the problem are so unhappy about them.

    The implication here is that you sneak your device into one machine in one polling place in a single precinct, and bang! — the entire state of California’s vote is instantly replaced by your own carefully doctored version with a different winner… undetectably.

    But I sure don’t recall reading any of the real experts saying any such thing. Can you point to an official document that does?

    I really need more than just your say-so; I need something I can read for myself to see what the expert is actually saying. So far, none I have read has been anywhere near as anti-touchscreen as you have been, nor as perfunctory or conclusory.

    “Frankly, I don’t believe there are enough touchscreen voters to throw an election; the vast majority aren’t comfortable voting that way. So anyone with an interest in cheating would find another target for his felonious endeavors.”

    So why is banning them a problem then?

    There are not that many people who wear pink and purple hats in Southern California. So why is banning them a problem?

    Because maximizing human choice is the hallmark of our society. So unless you can demonstrate not only that current touchscreen systems are significantly more vulnerable than other systems, but also that there is no possible fix that would correct that problem, you should not simply ban things that some number of people want to use.

    Just as you shouldn’t ban tawny port, caffeine-free diet soda, pink and purple hats, or any other free choice simply because it’s not the majority choice.

    But of course, you do admit to being a liberal…

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  95. I’m a conservative and a Canadian. We have one federally approved format for paper ballots and don’t have your difficulties.

    Choice is great, but for God’s sake, it’s a ballot. We could make them all colours of the rainbow, but is “choice” as applied to ballots really necessary?

    As far as unless it can be conclusively demonstrated that an unreliable system essential to democracy has no POSSIBLE fix it shouldn’t be banned, well… at least you italicized the part of your proposition discrediting it.

    It should be iron-clad reliable, not merely hoping in vain there will be a fix.

    I’m not saying current touchscreen systems are, in fact, unreliable, but if they were, your premise, then your assertion they shouldn’t be banned until all possible fixes have been eliminated is absurd.

    Signed,
    Your conservative friend who has scrutineered many elections with people from his and all the other major parties in his country without incident or acrimony for years

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  96. The implication here is that you sneak your device into one machine in one polling place in a single precinct, and bang! — the entire state of California’s vote is instantly replaced by your own carefully doctored version with a different winner… undetectably.

    It’s fairly clear from the review of the Hart machine that the entire result of a *county* could be replaced with a doctored version. It wouldn’t be undetectable that the doctoring had occurred, but it would be undetectable who had done it.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  97. What i’d like to see set up for congressional districts is a system wherein citizens, drafted in a manner similar to jury duty, draw district borders. Attaching electors to borders drawn in this manner would be fine with me.

    I agree. What I don’t get is why anyone who likes that system would not concede thinks that a system based on today’s Congressional districts would be a vast improvement (albeit an imperfect one) over the winner-take-all system we have now. Suppose Californians vote 60-40 for the Democrat over the Republican in 2008. Strict proportionality would dictate that the “right” division of California’s 55 electoral votes is 33 to 22. Perfectly, proportionally drawn Congressional districts would miss that mark by only one vote, with 54 going to the Democrat (2 statewide plus 32 of the 53 Congressional districts) and the remaining 21 to the Republican. A system based on today’s districts might be a little further off than that, but not much. So why allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good?

    Xrlq (576284)

  98. XRLQ: suppose Californians vote 51-49 for the Republican. But a gerrymandered system in which the congressional districts ensured a lock for the Democrat would mean that the Democrat would get a majority of the delegates.

    As far as I can tell, this system puts control of the presidency in the hands of the state legislatures. I think this is a bad plan.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  99. My patents law professor used illustrations to describe the requirement of “useful” for the granting of a patent. He said that for a voting machine to be patentably “useful”, it had to be perfectly accurate. Man, that was such an innocent time.

    BTW: I don’t think that Bush v. Gore was anything more than the Supreme Court saying, “Since you assholes won’t stop the merry-go-round, we will. You’re making America a laughing-stock around the world”.

    nk (119c34)

  100. Cristoph:

    Our two countries evolved differently; we attach far more importance to individual choice — in elections, health care, retirement, self defense, and a host of other issues — than does our neighbor and ally to the north.

    If the problem is fixable, then the secretary of state can say she will not certify the system until it is demonstrated to be fixed. For goodness’s sake, we have more than a year until the actual election, and nearly six months until the primary… there is plenty of time to institute a fix similar to what I outlined uptopic (which Armed Liberal never addressed), hence plenty of time to have a working, certified touchscreen system.

    If there is some legal barrier to using them during the primary — perhaps that they must be certified some specified number of days before the contest — then we can muddle through without them for February; but certainly we’re nowhere near the corresponding deadline for certifying machines for the general election, nearly fifteen months away. Plenty of time to fix and certify them.

    In my country, we’re not used to the government saying “do it this way, because we say so.”

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  101. there is plenty of time to institute a fix similar to what I outlined uptopic

    Actually, there isn’t; the decision to approve or disapprove must be made six months prior to the election, per the state election code.

    Granted, there is opportunity to fix the situation between now and the general election, and I would expect the machine vendors to offer to do so. But the deadline for purposes of the presidential primary has already passed.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  102. Aphrael:

    I wrote:

    If there is some legal barrier to using them during the primary — perhaps that they must be certified some specified number of days before the contest — then we can muddle through without them for February; but certainly we’re nowhere near the corresponding deadline for certifying machines for the general election, nearly fifteen months away. Plenty of time to fix and certify them.

    You responded:

    Actually, there isn’t; the decision to approve or disapprove must be made six months prior to the election, per the state election code.

    Granted, there is opportunity to fix the situation between now and the general election, and I would expect the machine vendors to offer to do so. But the deadline for purposes of the presidential primary has already passed.

    Thanks for the — uh — correction (?), Aphrael… (g)

    Dafydd

    Dafydd ab Hugh (445647)

  103. XRLQ: suppose Californians vote 51-49 for the Republican.

    On what planet?

    But a gerrymandered system in which the congressional districts ensured a lock for the Democrat would mean that the Democrat would get a majority of the delegates.

    Why? Even in a doubly bizarro world where Californians vote 51-49 for a Republican Presidential candidate, yet somehow managed to elect the same Legislature y’all have today, the end result would still be a lot fairer than awarding 100% of the electoral votes to either party – except maybe in that rare state that is so hyperpartisan that 100% of the electorate actually votes that way.

    As far as I can tell, this system puts control of the presidency in the hands of the state legislatures. I think this is a bad plan.

    That’s not an argument against the NE/ME system, it’s an argument against the very idea of appointing electors “in such Manner as the Legislature [of each state] may direct.” Is that where you’re headed with this? [If so, no shame in that; I can think of some pretty damned screwy manners in which any given Legislature could direct.]

    Xrlq (6c2116)


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