March 7, 2006
-- by Dave Johnson
Theories of widespread election fraud are highly debatable, to say the least. Some people enjoy that debate. I do not. It encourages a sense of hopelessness and consumes energy that could instead be focused on long-term changes that could give us elections we can trust.I agree, word the problem in a way that we can win. Elections should be transparent. We should be able to prove who won.
The election fraud debate frames the problem incorrectly. The question should not be whether there is widespread election fraud. It should be: "Why should we trust the results of elections?" It's not good enough that election results be accurate. We have to know they are accurate—and we don't.
In a word, elections must be transparent. People must be able to assure themselves that the results are accurate through direct observation during the election and examination of evidence afterwards.
U.S. elections are far from transparent. Instead, winning candidates and election officials alike tend to put all their efforts into suppressing recounts. That attitude has led to increasing bitterness with each national election, at least since Florida 2000.
But we can conclusively win a debate about election transparency.
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As I've said whenever asked, after watching the performance of the Direct Record Electronic voting machines in 2004, I simply have no idea who won in 2004. Neither does anyone else. There were too many votes cast on too many completely opaque, unauditable "take-it-on-faith" machines for anyone to know.
That's not paranoia or conspiracy theorist stuff. I'm not saying anyone rigged the machines. I'm simply saying there's absolutely no way to know if the reported outcome was the intended outcome. Nor will there ever be a way to know as long as the machines are as opaque as they are.
Why this is a partisan issue is beyond me. One would think that Republicans would be just as interested in transparent and reliable vote-counting as anyone else, unless they have something else in mind.
Posted by: jsw at March 7, 2006 5:03 PM
A whole lot of very smart people who have studied the '00 and '04 elections are now convinced that they were subtly rigged in a coordinated fashion.
This is not a question of "framing." It's just "history."
More and more smart folks are demanding hand-marked, hand-counted ballots, counted on the night of the election, with the results announced at the end of the count at every individual polling station. These would cost no more than "high-tech" voting computer elections.
What seems to be the problem with this?
The problem with hand-marked ballots is that people mis-mark them. Electronic machines really do help solve this problem.
But we need them to print paper ballots that the voter can double-check and people can count to make sure the vote count report is accurate.
Also, there are not enough people volunteering to work at the polls to have every precinct hand-counted. I volunteer, the county just can't get enough people, and everyone else there is usually very old.
Posted by: Dave Johnson at March 12, 2006 11:21 AM
Well, maybe a few will mis-mark them. But, really, what reason is there to believe that they won't "mis-touch-pad" them? And would not such errors tend to balance out, on average?
You know the damn country is in real deep doo-doo when the kids are all getting their legs blown off while the elderly are the only ones who care enough to volunteer to count the damn votes!
Hell, if need be, draft the damn suckers; choose 'em at random, the same way in which court juries are chosen.
I would trust a randomly-chosen fellow citizen (scum though she or he may well be) to count my vote infinitely more than one of Bill Gates' "silicon wonders" any day. If this keeps up, people will stop voting, and start shooting.
In fact, the Iraqification of America is probably way overdue to start any day now.
Well in 2000 severa hundred thousand people mis-marked them, just in Florida.
If they mis-touch the screen, the screen SHOWS THEM what they are about to vote for. Then they can check the ballot before turning it in to see if it contains what they thought they voted for.
The reliability of these machines for getting the vote right is close to 100%. The PROBLEM is tht we have no way to know that they accurately REPORT what the vote was, so we need the veriication of the paper with the voter looking at the paper before dropping it into a box.
As for drating people to work elections, we can't even get them to vote.
Posted by: Dave Johnson at March 12, 2006 3:46 PM
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