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Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes
November 5, 2004 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes An error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, elections officials said.

Franklin County's unofficial results had Bush receiving 4,258 votes to Democrat John Kerry's 260 votes in a precinct in Gahanna. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.

do the math.
posted by specialk420 (133 comments total)

 
Paper ballots and pencils.
Paper ballots and pencils.
Paper ballots and pencils.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. It isn't rocket science, even if you Americans have taken what should be a fairly straightforward process and turned it into an expensive, prone to failure and fraud clusterfuck.

And nothing will change until you ditch the computers.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:02 AM on November 5, 2004


you know, specialk, you shouldn't put me on an emotional roller coaster like this. i was just getting done with resigning myself to 4 more years of this crap and now i'm all hopeful for change again. i don't know if my heart can take it.

seriously though, this is pretty concerning. i want to know if it was a diebold machine given this little comment made earlier this year.
posted by christy at 11:08 AM on November 5, 2004


Someone will inevitably tell you you suck for making this post because it "has an opinion" and is about politics.

I will say thank you for making this post. Also interesting: Optical Scan Questions in Florida..

ALSO interesting - an IQ versus electoral vote winner chart that has been posted in a lot of places is talked about rather widely as nothing more than a rehash of a pre existing hoax.. Well, I decided to do my own research, not on IQ, but rather on quality of education... The results, while not yet complete (I'd like to see how "fair" my calculations are - feel free to check them yourselves) is posted here in Excel form and here in html for those without Excel
posted by twiggy at 11:08 AM on November 5, 2004


Is this the only case like this that has been discovered? You know, it would only take something like 750 extra votes in each county to seal the election for either side.
posted by cell divide at 11:10 AM on November 5, 2004


do the math.

136,000-3,893=132,107

Anybody want to double check that?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:14 AM on November 5, 2004


Let's gauge the responses:

Right Wing: How sour do those grapes taste?
Centrists = MSM: Move along, nothing to see here.
Left Wing: It's a coup! To the city gates, everyone! Grab a pitchfork!

It's probably too much to ask that the results of this election be examined in any systematic way, which is exactly what needs to happen, but in the interest of preparing for next time, why is it not obvious that:

1. Any computerized voting needs to produce a paper audit trail or it should not be implemented.
2. Unapologetic partisans like Kathleen Harris and Ken Blackwell (and their Democratic equivalents in other states, to the extent they exist) should not be allowed anywhere near the voting and/or election certification process.
posted by psmealey at 11:14 AM on November 5, 2004


sorry, should have been: Centrists + MSM
posted by psmealey at 11:17 AM on November 5, 2004


Heh, just read this. Of course, this cannot be considered unexpected, can it?

And if the error in numbers was that large on just 638 votes, image the potential for the rest of the 100s of precincts.

And keep in mind this is just the one that was caught. THIS is why paper trails should have been mandatory to even CONSIDER using machines.

The election is/was/will still be a joke until this changes.
posted by eas98 at 11:18 AM on November 5, 2004


My indigestion just came back.

psmealey, yes, but: How do we get 1 and 2 to be accepted and implemented, if unapologetic partisans like Ken Blackwell and Kathleen Harris are the ones making the judgement calls?

From a best-practices perspective, yes: No machine should ever have even been DESIGNED that didn't have a paper trail. Anyone who put together a requirements document that didn't include a paper trail should be fired. And if the selection process didn't reference a requirements doc.... I don't know. The world is run by incompetents. I've been a requirements analyst, and I know I would never have produced an RFP for electronic voting that didn't include at least a secure audit trail. Where was the review process?

I've seen what public sector geeks get paid, actually, and it's not surprising that nobody competent wants to work for the State of Ohio...
posted by lodurr at 11:22 AM on November 5, 2004


Something I read recently: Somewhat constant W advantage where voting machines where used.
posted by NewBornHippy at 11:23 AM on November 5, 2004


"Black Box Voting has taken the position that fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines. We base this on hard evidence, documents obtained in public records requests, inside information, and other data indicative of manipulation of electronic voting systems. What we do not know is the specific scope of the fraud."
posted by homunculus at 11:27 AM on November 5, 2004


More here
posted by Skygazer at 11:38 AM on November 5, 2004


I write software for a living and I understand that there are inherent complexities. That said, a voting machine strikes me as a really simple application/device. All it does is show a form and save the result. There's nothing tricky about the hardware, there's no multithreading, it isn't even a real-time application in the sense of having to respond to external events within hard limits. An MP3 player is far more complex. So it totally mystifies me why we should hear about so many problems with them. And while I'm not religious about open source, it also seems like the most obvious example imaginable of where the transparency of open source would be a good thing.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:39 AM on November 5, 2004


homunculus:

You know, ever since i read the original posting @ black box voting re: the voting machines..i have been telling people, directing them there, etc.

No one is up in arms about this. I mean, the only way that people are going to care, is if someone get's a blowjob, or lip-syncs a press conference, or offers a fucking free iPod to whomever can provide teh records needed.

This should scare people on BOTH sides of the isle...but doesn't . Why?
posted by das_2099 at 11:41 AM on November 5, 2004


I just deleted a longer comment than Armitage Shank's: What he said.
posted by normy at 11:45 AM on November 5, 2004


I wondered how long it would be before the lefties drug out the "Chimpy stole the election!" canard, and Lo!, here it is. Be aware, denizens of the Left: Bush lost three states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania) by fewer votes than Kerry lost Ohio. Are you willing to apply these same horseshit numbers to those other states?

Your guy lost, period. It was a close race, but he lost. Suck it up and get over it, for chrissakes.
posted by mrmanley at 11:46 AM on November 5, 2004


just wanted to chime in before this thread is deleted:

thank you to specialk420, psmeasley, and twiggy.

psmeasley, i think that in addition to the responses you've proposed, we'll also be told that fraud doesn't matter b/c if "the democrats had just picked a better candidate, they would've gotten enough votes so that it wouldn't have had any effect."
posted by lord_wolf at 11:46 AM on November 5, 2004


with . . with crosses carved in their foreheads??
posted by petebest at 11:47 AM on November 5, 2004


Are you willing to apply these same horseshit numbers to those other states?

I'm no spokesperson for "the Left", however that's defined this week, but absolutely. Yes. From any systemic viewpoint, the voting system in the US is fuxored. I don't care where the calls for investigation or reform come from, just that they are heard.
posted by normy at 11:50 AM on November 5, 2004


mrmanley - Can you honestly say that, were the positions reversed, the Republicans would not want to investigate any election irregularities?
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:51 AM on November 5, 2004


Your guy lost, period. It was a close race, but he lost. Suck it up and get over it, for chrissakes.

I don't mind if 'my guy' lost. I would be sad, but would get over it. But if 'my guy' was cheated, and this country's future was stolen, then you better belive I am NOT going to get over it.

Suck me, buddy.
posted by eas98 at 11:53 AM on November 5, 2004


Suck it up and get over it, for chrissakes.

Right, because voter fraud, election incompetence, and other election-related corruption are things that only effect Democrats.

On preview: what normy said. The possibility of a rigged election on way or the other is more corrosive to our form of goverment and social fabric than a thousand years of neocon Presidents.
posted by psmealey at 11:54 AM on November 5, 2004


here we go...I'm sure this is just the beginning. Is there anyone who didn't see this coming? (Not that it will change anything.)
posted by fungible at 11:54 AM on November 5, 2004


interesting.

various people complain all the time that, here on mefi, anyone who doesn't denounce bush loudly and at length is viewed as supporting him. (i'm guilty of that. justgary, if you're reading, i apologize for the assumptions i made the other day.)

but when people write things like
I wondered how long it would be before the lefties drug out the "Chimpy stole the election!" canard

no one says anything.

i seriously doubt that all of the people who are voicing concern about irregularities in this thread are "lefties."
posted by lord_wolf at 11:56 AM on November 5, 2004


136,000-3,893=132,107

Anybody want to double check that?
I don't see this as a math problem. Mistakes in an election, even if unintentional or do not change the outcome of the election, should be corrected.

What would you say if evidence surfaces that the voters in Ohio, in fact, voted for Kerry? What would you say if this evidence was made available before or after the votes are certified?
posted by sequential at 11:56 AM on November 5, 2004


And I have to ask all of you: John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election by fewer votes than W. won Ohio, and that was nationwide. Do you consider JFK to be an illegitimate President? If not, why not? How is it different when a Democrat wins?

Details here.
posted by mrmanley at 11:57 AM on November 5, 2004


what everyone else said, except for the people like mrmanley, of course, who are afraid for some reason to count votes, and examine software/procedures.

If the election was won fairly, and not because of fixed machines, there should be no problem in verifying that, you'd think, in a democracy.
posted by amberglow at 11:57 AM on November 5, 2004


mrmanley - It's not different at all. Evidence that either side cheated should be investigated and, if necessary, rectified.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:00 PM on November 5, 2004


Suck it up and get over it, for chrissakes.

I realize that you're just a troll, and as usual, you'll probably run away from this thread after dropping your turd in it, but haven't you been paying any attention to the ridiculous number of issues related to these machines? Even knowing that it makes no difference to the outcome this time, doesn't it bother you at all? You know, just "on principle".

On preview: It's common knowledge that Kennedy's win was tainted by election fraud. It wasn't right then either.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:00 PM on November 5, 2004


"An error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, officials said."

Your guy lost, period. It was a close race, but he lost. Suck it up and get over it, for chrissakes.

I'm mrmanley and I approve this message.
posted by rafter at 12:02 PM on November 5, 2004


Well, to the rat mentality, it doesn't matter how it's won, only that it's won. And any legitimate grievances about the voting system in America -- actually, any legitimate grievances about anything, it seems -- is "partisan whining from the Left." "Get over objective reality!" It must be very nice to attach ideology to everything and find a sinister motive behind every action.

Actually, I figured out why people roll over for you guys all the time: they get so tired of the bullshit and the incessant whining streaming from you that they'll do what you want just so maybe, possibly, this one time please God make it so, you'll shut the fuck up.
posted by solistrato at 12:02 PM on November 5, 2004


mrmanley, if I could travel back in time 44 years, I would have exactly the same position as I do now. Let's not bury our hands in the sand because of fear of partisan recriminations. If something went wrong, and clearly something when wrong, let's investigate what happened and see if we can fix it so it doesn't happen again.
posted by psmealey at 12:03 PM on November 5, 2004


I had concerns about this two days ago, but was immediately pretty much called an idiot.

Of course, I linked to the the Democratic Underground, not the most reputable source, but seriously, why is it that when one questions the validity of the elections system one is considered a sore loser and a conspriacy theorist?

And, the Card Cheat is right on, if positions were reversed every goddamn Republican in Washington would be screaming liberal coup on cable televison.
posted by Boydrop at 12:04 PM on November 5, 2004


What is a margin of error?

No stats majors in this group, I see.
posted by mrmanley at 12:07 PM on November 5, 2004


You must've majored in missing the point.
posted by psmealey at 12:08 PM on November 5, 2004


mrmanley: yes but were 33 (or any) of the *303* electoral votes Kennedy won, in very close races?
posted by talos at 12:09 PM on November 5, 2004


I love all of the comments by GOP supporters just saying forget it and move on. Actually no, no I don't. They incense me no end.

Um yeah, the process isn't complete and you are damned right that we're going to look for ways that the election was illegally tipped in Bush's favor.

Your side would be doing the exact same thing if Bush lost so shut up and let the process go. If your man won legitimately then you've got nothing to worry about, if he didn't win legitimately then perhaps you should reconsider backing a cheater/liar/fraud?
posted by fenriq at 12:10 PM on November 5, 2004


God - count all the votes. It's what every other country does. Afghanistan just did it for christ sakes. It's normal. You have the election, you predict a winner, then you count the votes and you declare a winner. Are we so bereft of democratic tendancies that we prefer instant gratification to a process?

Count all the votes from here (NYC) to Alaska and back again. Make everyone who voted think their votes count. Have the media tell people who voted for who where. Dear god - it's an election, not a usurption, or a corronation.
posted by goneill at 12:11 PM on November 5, 2004


You must've majored in missing the point.

He's certainly majored in avoiding it. But this is the same guy who whined about the Left suppressing free speech and in the same breath suggested that Michael Moore should be in jail for treason, so he's clearly not very bright, even by freeper standards.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:11 PM on November 5, 2004


talos:

You forgot to put "didn't read the link" in your message.

psmealey:

What point? That elections are imperfect? Granted. But they are as good as we can make them, and unless you can show that fraud and not human error was the problem here, all you're saying is that Dems are a bunch of sore losers.
posted by mrmanley at 12:12 PM on November 5, 2004


Bush lost three states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania) by fewer votes than Kerry lost Ohio. Are you willing to apply these same horseshit numbers to those other states?

bush and the republican party got their asses handed to them here in minnesota ... manley... id welcome inspection of our ballots - believe me.. our creepy secretary of state did everthing she could to toss the state into bush's column.

this bullshit with the voting machines - and christian wrong candidates will boomerang on you bush supporters... mark my words.
posted by specialk420 at 12:12 PM on November 5, 2004


From what I read, the old mechanical voting machines have no paper record either: they're just like water meters, rotating mechanical-digital number wheels with each pull of the lever. Is that correct? That would make the problem much bigger than Diebold.
posted by cardboard at 12:13 PM on November 5, 2004


The point is that if there is a problem, investigate it, see if it exists and fix it for next time. That's all I'm saying. My point above was that all the partisan noise drowns out the central issue, the it's likely the system has been broken for a long time, and for reasons that infuriate me, no one, not Democrats, not Republicans, not the media is calling for it to be fixed.
posted by psmealey at 12:14 PM on November 5, 2004


Unless and until mrmanley fulfills his promise and admits his errors, he definitely needs to STFU around here.
posted by jpoulos at 12:15 PM on November 5, 2004


How is it different when a Democrat wins?

It isn't. Are you reading the same thread?

But they are as good as we can make them

I give up.
posted by normy at 12:16 PM on November 5, 2004


unless you can show that fraud and not human error

Not necessarily fraud or human error; incompetently designed voting machines that don't count votes properly. Have you really read nothing else about this anywhere else?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:16 PM on November 5, 2004


specialk420:

You need to read some other paper than the old "Star and Sickle". Kerry only beat Bush by about 96000 votes statewide -- which, you'll note, is a smaller difference than Bush got in Ohio. (Link.)

You'll also note that Minnesota has a Republican governor and one Republican Senator. (And that nutcase Dayton is on his way out in 2006.)
posted by mrmanley at 12:17 PM on November 5, 2004


Your guy lost, period. It was a close race, but he lost. Suck it up and get over it, for chrissakes.
It appears that Kerry lost, yes. I'd even go as far as to say at this point, without further evidence, it's unwise to say otherwise. Yet, it was not a close race by popular vote, just by electoral vote. It was not a mandate or a landside either. By the current numbers, Bush won with a solid margin of victory in popular votes.

However, you're implying that the election process has ended. It has not. If you have evidence that the electoral college has voted or that the votes have been certified or that all votes have been counted, please share it with us.
Do you consider JFK to be an illegitimate President? If not, why not?
I am not well versed enough in the numbers and facts of the 1960 election to say for certain how I feel. My general response to the 1960 election is not dissimilar to my response to election fraud that's happened throughout our history. It's repulsive, undemocratic and a crime. However, we're not talking popular votes, which Bush lost by in 2000. Neither the Kennedy presidency or the Bush presidency of 2000 are illegitimate because of the difference in the popular vote. In fact, irregularities that have popped up in close elections and landslides have nothing to do with the margin of victory. They are simply mistakes that need to be corrected.

Why do you oppose counting the votes and allowing the process to be transparent?
The point is that if there is a problem, investigate it, see if it exists and fix it for next time.
Why wait for next time when the problems are happening during an election? Even if the vote tally increases Bush's margin of victory, I'm behind investigating problems that were experienced in this election now.
posted by sequential at 12:18 PM on November 5, 2004


The Trouble With Technology--from the Economist (9/04)-- When it comes to ensuring accuracy and accountability, casino slot machines in Atlantic City, New Jersey, get more government supervision than federal election voting machines.
posted by amberglow at 12:18 PM on November 5, 2004


Listen, everyone. manley is an admitted troll. Ignore him. We don't need to prove anything to him.
posted by jpoulos at 12:19 PM on November 5, 2004


I'm not asking that Bush step down, even though that would please me greatly.

I just want America's voting system to work transparently and reliably, so glitches don't end up eroding faith in the system altogether. You can call it sour grapes if you want, but this isn't (or at least shouldn't be) a partisan issue.
posted by mosch at 12:20 PM on November 5, 2004


to the rat mentality, it doesn't matter how it's won, only that it's won

and sometimes it doesn't even matter who wins

California's King Rat says he doesn't have to listen to "losers" in the Democratic Party, even though the Dems won 23 of the 25 state seats in contention. welcome to bizarro world.

i think the election was rigged too, fwiw. i'd love to get some more good evidence. spread the word to everyone you know.

on preview: Unless and until mrmanley fulfills his promise and admits his errors, he definitely needs to STFU around here.

SNAP!
posted by mrgrimm at 12:21 PM on November 5, 2004


jpoulos:

I guess you don't consider Sarin to be WMD. (And I still don't understand how liberals can howl on one hand about the "missing" 540 tons of DMX/RDX explose, and on the other hand insist that Iraq didn't have WMDS.)

And as far as the STFU comment: it just shows the value libs place on free speech. It only applies when they agree with it.

Losers.
posted by mrmanley at 12:21 PM on November 5, 2004


As a non-american, may I just say: it's this kind of shit, and the "don't let the niggers vote" policy, that TOTALLY BLOWS YOUR CREDIBILITY when allegedly bringing democracy to others.

Brazil can do this better than you can, for crying out loud.

"The United States of America: Slightly More Electoral Integrity Than India".
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:21 PM on November 5, 2004


Why wouldn't all sides want to have as clear cut a winner as possible? Why wouldn't both sides want every vote counted? Why wouldn't both sides demand it?

The system is broken, the voting machines are crap, our election process is a fucking joke.

I want a national election register where I can log in and check to make sure that my votes were tallied correctly. And I want it last week.
posted by fenriq at 12:21 PM on November 5, 2004


Listen, everyone. manley is an admitted troll.

Seems that way. It would even less charitable to assume that he's as stupid as he appears. Oh well.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:22 PM on November 5, 2004


On a less snarky note, the same argument cuts both ways. Republicans will ask, "So what kind of margin does Bush have to have for you not to cry fraud?"

The response, of course, is: "How many irregularities do there have to be before you admit that there may have been fraud?"

I suspect the answer to both questions is "a lot."

And a 3,900 vote surplus in a little hamlet of 638 voters is pretty honkin' huge.

Following Armitage's comment:

I wouldn't call myself a software developer, but I've released a few scripts in my day. And if what you're releasing is an entirely self-contained package, one build is as good as the next -- there aren't any discrepencies between operating environments or any such to take into account.

The point being: for all intents and purposes, the voting machines used in this district are identical to the others that came off the same assembly line. If a bug exists in one machine, it exists in the next, and the next and the next.

Most bugs slip by because they are not immediately apparent on any given run through. I'll be using a script for weeks before I catch an obvious error -- such as a 4,000 vote surplus. Going back, however, it's usually the case that this error in computing happened the same every time -- even though it took the most obvious case for me to catch it.

This is, of course, assuming that it's a bug.
posted by rafter at 12:22 PM on November 5, 2004


What point? That elections are imperfect? Granted. But they are as good as we can make them, and unless you can show that fraud and not human error was the problem here, all you're saying is that Dems are a bunch of sore losers.

Um, how are paperless proprietary closed machines "the best we can make them" ? How is it that we announce a winner before all votes are counted? Is that the best way to conduct an election? Do you seriously think that there is NOTHING that can/could have been done to make this election smoother, more democratic, more auditable, etc etc?

Also, you say that unless we can show evidence of fraud or human error, we should just shut up. Um, that's what we are talking about . . . INVESTIGATING to see if there was any fraud or human error.


There is something worse than a sore loser . . . a jackass winner.
posted by Boydrop at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2004


Armitage Shanks: as somebody who write software for a living ( hello fellow code monkey :) ) you know perfectly well how _easy_ it is to write a program that does the following:

1. record a vote
2. write vote in a database
3. print some paper record of the vote
4. do sum of votes, spit the results on screen or on paper

Consider the following: even if you had this program open-source (for those who don't know open-source is like having the power to look at the sekrut recipe of Coca Cola) reviewed by bi-tri-quadri partisan and a whole ton of government commissions, there still would be the possibility to alter the code. No matter how many security measures you can imagine, the mere fact that a code can be changed or a chip replaced or tampered with at some level of production should make you scream in fear.

The usual counter argument is that a paper trail of the vote should be sufficient proof of the voting : but who's supposed to print the paper trail...ooooppss the computer , AGAIN ! Switch some line of code and 100 votes for Bush become 100 for Kerry or vice-versa.

While there are still many security issues in the mere paper ballot and pen, those are more likely to be address with the help of -mere mortal human beings- that don't know jack shit about computer...by strict rules of transparency and by uniform standards ; also, the more people is involved in overlooking the actual voting and voting process, the less likely corruption becomes..or more expensive, or increase the chances of some whistleblower.

Therefore rather then open-source the code of a machine (which can be changed in seconds, regardless of what expert advice says) open-source the process down to the most minute detail : it will certainly slow down the process, but as there is no void of power during election there is no risk of lack of leadership.
posted by elpapacito at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2004


hey mr. manley, i'm tired of hearing that "move on" bullshit from your ilk. nobody is moving on until every last vestige of republican slime has been laid out and sun dried. your kind are always spouting that "your guy lost, just move on, and by the way let's not look too closely at what happenned..." you people are shit, you and your invisible savior are little more than manifestations of neanderthal superstition, and the compassion for man will triumph over the worship of money. it may simply take us a few more millenia.
posted by quonsar at 12:24 PM on November 5, 2004


And I have to ask all of you: John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election by fewer votes than W. won Ohio, and that was nationwide. Do you consider JFK to be an illegitimate President? If not, why not? How is it different when a Democrat wins?

Nationwide numbers are completely irrelevant to the election of a President, as you must be aware by now.

mrmanley must be part of that "faith-based community" where reality is irrelevant and irrelevancies are put up on pedestals.
posted by clevershark at 12:24 PM on November 5, 2004


(Wow, there were about a billion posts between my two comments, which were meant to follow on the heels of one another.)
posted by rafter at 12:24 PM on November 5, 2004


FLORIDA - What seems very odd in these numbers is that the increase in ACTUAL votes from EXPECTED votes has a striking pattern of being so much higher for REPs than that for DEMs in counties using optical scan voting machines.
posted by bk at 12:25 PM on November 5, 2004


Do you consider JFK to be an illegitimate President?

I think Oswald took care of the need to even answer that one.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:25 PM on November 5, 2004


quonsar:

Enjoy your long stay in political purgatory.
posted by mrmanley at 12:25 PM on November 5, 2004


Hey, if Bush is confident that he won the election, he shouldn't mind every single vote being counted. The same should go for any candidate or candidate's supporter.
posted by drezdn at 12:25 PM on November 5, 2004


Let me say it again,

We need a National Electoral Registry where each and every citizen can log in and verify that their votes were tallied correctly.

A transparent process is the only way to avoid these clusterfucks in the future.
posted by fenriq at 12:28 PM on November 5, 2004


The usual counter argument is that a paper trail of the vote should be sufficient proof of the voting : but who's supposed to print the paper trail...ooooppss the computer , AGAIN ! Switch some line of code and 100 votes for Bush become 100 for Kerry or vice-versa.

elpapacito, I always thought this myself, until I read about an extremely simple and elegant solution that someone much smarter than myself dreamed up.

You vote on a touch screen, with all the huge-text or multi-language advantages that it offers. Your ballot then prints out behind a little piece of glass, where you can see it and confirm that it has recorded your vote accurately. If it has, you click "Okay" and the ballot drops into a secure box that never needs to be opened unless there is a call for a recount. The best of both worlds.
posted by rafter at 12:29 PM on November 5, 2004


Enjoy your long stay in political purgatory.

and that would be where? see, you can't even speak in terms of reality.
posted by quonsar at 12:30 PM on November 5, 2004


mrmanley:
You forgot to put "didn't read the link" in your message.


Nope, you linked to a list of all US elections' results. There is no info of a state by state breakdown. I honestly don't know if a state result back in 1960 was very close. But if it wasn't, then the total, countrywide, difference of votes means nothing in the context we're discussing.

... Or are you implying something else?
posted by talos at 12:31 PM on November 5, 2004


if a bug exists in machine, it exists in the next, and the next and the next.

Bugs don't manifest themselves in the same way every time. Fencepost errors, uninitialized data, random accesses will all behave totally differently given the inputs. They may even work perfectly some of the time. And at least with Deibold, I believe they were using Access for storage at some point, which means a whole subsystem with its own issues. Add to that the fact that the people building these things seem to be particularly ignorant of security, and it's a mess. If ATM's had as many problems as these machines, people would be screaming.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:31 PM on November 5, 2004


mrmanely's reality...
"I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principals and empiricism," Suskind writes. "He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
posted by hulette at 12:33 PM on November 5, 2004


Armitage, re the ATMs: they're designed to be used on a private network, with restricted physical access. Paradoxically, their security needs in software are far less testing than a voting machine's.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:36 PM on November 5, 2004


Therefore rather then open-source the code of a machine (which can be changed in seconds, regardless of what expert advice says) open-source the process down to the most minute detail

I don't disagree with the last part of this, but digital signatures can also deal with the first part. It's not just about fraud, it's also about removing even the suggestion of things mysteriously not working properly because the code is wrong. To use a trivial analogy, there are people who insist that some shareware backgammon games on the Macintosh "cheat" by generating dice rolls in favor of the computer. If code is open source and you can use signatures to verify that it hasn't been tampered with, you remove a whole level of this kind of bullshit conspiracy theory as a bonus.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:38 PM on November 5, 2004


The Cal-Tech/MIT Voting Project wants to set up a system of forensic vote auditing to detect irregularities in voting patterns. There isn't much on their site though, yet.
posted by euphorb at 12:40 PM on November 5, 2004


mrmanley - Can you honestly say that, were the positions reversed, the Republicans would not want to investigate any election irregularities?

That's not even in doubt. The Republicans were all over registration and voting irregularities like white on rice. Those irregularities that threatened to hurt their guys' chances, that is. Duh. They fought like hell for the opportunity to challenge 23,000-35,000 Ohio Democratic voters at the polls.

It takes a pretty diehard partisan to doubt that ALL election irregularities need to be exposed and investigated. Any election official who doesn't support transparent, auditable elections is playing sides instead of doing their $@^#$ job.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:42 PM on November 5, 2004


bk, I have serious doubts about numbers on that you've linked to. Last night I began running checks on the methodology and the current numbers, with 100% of precints reporting. At this point, it appears that, given a 3% margin of error in the exit polls, that the results match the exit polls.

(Disregard, for the time being, that the exit polls changed significantly long after voting ceased in Florida. There are legitimate reasons for this, though I've heard no admission that this even happened. I personally witnessing it, but I'm making no accusations with regard to impropriety.)

On average, Bush had a 42.36% increase in voters across the state, where Kerry only improved on Gore's totals by 38.27%. In three heavy Democrat strong holds, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, Bush increased the votes for him by 25.18%, 37.68% and 31.51% respectively, where Kerry increased on Gore's totals by 46.76%, 42.67% and 48.73%. It does not appear, given my preliminary analysis, that the expected votes methodology that spreadsheet uses is valid.

(I'm reserving judgement until my analysis is complete, but that's where I stand at this moment in time. When I'm done, I'll make my data available publically.)
posted by sequential at 12:42 PM on November 5, 2004


What needs to happen is not an overturning of the election ... sour grapes never solved anything.

what needs to happen is a rework of the electronic voting process so this doesn't happen again.

If there were bogus votes for Bush there were most likely bogus votes for Kerry out there too. Bad systems don't have a bias toward one candidate.

If it turns out that all the bogus results were skewed in one direction ... THEN that points to fraud.
posted by Dillenger69 at 12:44 PM on November 5, 2004


talos:

Click on the link of the year 1960, and it will take you to the state-by-state breakdown.
posted by mrmanley at 12:46 PM on November 5, 2004


If there were bogus votes for Bush there were most likely bogus votes for Kerry out there too. Bad systems don't have a bias toward one candidate.

If it turns out that all the bogus results were skewed in one direction ... THEN that points to fraud.


Exactly. And either way, it's a problem worth taking seriously.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:52 PM on November 5, 2004


I watched the election quite late into the evening and couldn’t understand how around 8 pm that light blue state went all the way red in the span of about an hour. I remember cursing the whole of Ohio and hating everyone in this country at the time.

But I have to be honest, I’m tired of hearing what I knew was going to happen – missed and lost voting amounts on the left, right and center… hearing this only reaffirms my rage that we as a people are not getting our voices out, our choices registered – and I’m sick to death of it. One stolen election was enough for me. The essential question I need someone to answer for me (as I’m woefully ill equip to figure out the next step) is how do I, as a private citizen, insist that these votes get tallied? What’s the next step to put my rage in check so I’m sure that if Bush won, then he won fair and square. Otherwise, I want the real President please.
posted by eatdonuts at 12:55 PM on November 5, 2004


The essential question I need someone to answer for me (as I’m woefully ill equip to figure out the next step) is how do I, as a private citizen, insist that these votes get tallied?
That, to me at the very least, is a great question. The counts aren't done and I'm not accusing anyone of anything. I want to voice my hopes that all votes are counted and any errors corrected. I don't want to just tell you, my friends or even most of the people I see on a daily basis in my solidly blue state. I want to tell the people who do the counting and the people who oversee the counting.
posted by sequential at 1:03 PM on November 5, 2004


Regarding JFK -- I don't see why we need to be accused of having overlooked possible fraud in an election that was conducted before many of us (on MeFi) were born and while most of the rest were small children. The "you're just angry because you aren't the beneficiary" argument is stupid.

mrmanley does miss the point, which is that this is an opportunity for conservatives: if they bend over backwards to make the elections palpably fair and square, and they still win, the liberals will have nothing to counter with. Right now we have 48% and doubt on our side, because tons of stuff about this election just isn't kosher and the people in charge give us little reason to trust them.

"As good as we can make [the elections]" means:

1) Decisions should not be made by open partisans.
2) Voting systems should be uniform among precincts regardless of economic group -- error rates should not be significantly higher among one group of voters than another.
3) All precincts should be amply equipped and staffed so multi-hour waits are not necessary.
4) Provisional ballots should always be checked and counted if found to be legitimate.
5) Electronic voting machines should be open-source and leave a trackable paper trail.
6) Absentee ballots should be made less vulnerable to tampering.
7) Citizens should not be able to challenge one another's right to vote -- even to drag them to a hearing on the subject -- without specific and damning evidence.

That's off the top of my head, and doesn't even include things along the lines of the voter registration scam, the push polls, the threatening flyers in black areas, the "you're not registered so don't bother showing up" calls, and so forth -- just the flaws we've ignored in our system of elections itself. This is not whining, it's pointing out the obvious: that the winners of close elections are always going to enter office under a cloud unless we trouble to make some changes.
posted by Epenthesis at 1:04 PM on November 5, 2004


Epenthesis, the problem is if they bend over backwards to make the elections palpably fair and square, and they still win.

What if they already know that they don't win and they need to dig in their heels so that the rest of the world doesn't find out?

I've long thought that the GOP spin machine ran lots of tests to find out just what margin of victory would make the recount question go away and that they could have pretty easily manipulated the results to achieve that margin. Of course, I've got nothing to base it on, just a deep seated distrust of people that refuse to allow inspection of elections.
posted by fenriq at 1:13 PM on November 5, 2004


Congress and the President have had four years to make elections fair, accurate and transparent. And they did the opposite. Why would they do it now? And why should any sane person believe this election was fair?
posted by fungible at 1:28 PM on November 5, 2004


OMG That is soooo Orwellian/Rovian.
posted by shoos at 1:34 PM on November 5, 2004


mrmanley: I guess you don't consider Sarin to be WMD

Old news
posted by Slothrup at 1:40 PM on November 5, 2004


Are you willing to apply these same horseshit numbers to those other states?

Yes. I am. I think most of us are. And if there were just as many errors in Kerry's favor, that's fine. ANY error needs to be accounted for and corrected - or I live in a country where I cannot trust the voting process. If after all errors are found, there were just as many errors in Kerry's favor as Bush's, and the results come out the same - I'll accept the truth with open arms. That's all I ask for - the truth - the real vote count.
posted by twiggy at 1:49 PM on November 5, 2004


Can't vouch for these yet, personally, but should be easy enough to verify.

"Randi Rhodes on Exit Poll and Vote Fraud"

posted by psmealey at 1:50 PM on November 5, 2004


I want the real President please.

I'm so putting that on a t-shirt.
posted by contessa at 1:55 PM on November 5, 2004


The problem is that to make computerized voting as secure as paper, you'd have to supervise and monitor the whole manufacturing process of the machines. There's no way to confirm that the software is in a correct state after it gets deployed. There's no practical way to confirm that the *hardware* is in a correct state after it's been shipped out. While it would be extremely difficult to slip something malicious into the microcode of the CPU that would have any predictable effect on the output, I'm just not willing to say that it would be impossible given that you know exactly what software is going to be running.

Mind you, I'm pretty sure it *would* be impossible for anyone who'd do something as stupid as using something as overly-complex as Microsoft Access for this kind of thing. But election security shouldn't rely on incompetence.

Computers are just not like a blank sheet of paper, which you can look at and see at a glance that whether anything is written on it. To get them anywhere near as secure as voting by paper ballots, you need a lot of care and precision.

The banks are pretty good at it: their custom-built, tamper-resistant hardware is installed in a secure environment, and is pretty trustworthy. But the people building that hardware have no plausible incentive to tamper with it. They could pretty easily make it cost the bank money, but they wouldn't gain anything by that, they'd just lose their own livelihood when it was discovered. The dynamics of the algorithms involved make it impractical for any of the people involved in producing the machines to try to financially gain on any large scale by tampering with them. (At least in the cases I know about from when I used to work in that field.)

The people building voting machines, on the other hand, don't need to have any money transferred to their bank accounts to feel like they've gained. Their opportunity for fraud is greater, since they make "their" side win by making minute adjustments to numbers that have no connection with any one identifiying account number... only a few candidates in the election, as opposed to billions of bank accounts. So in theory it's more difficult to make voting secure than it is to secure financial networks.

Mechanincal voting machines are easier to secure, since they can be inspected. At least, I assume so. The mechnisms involved should be relatively easy to look at and see that they've not been tampered with. I don't know if that's actually done, but it's infinitely easier than trying to verify the state of computer software on a potentially compromised machine.

I think computer voting could be made acceptably secure. But it would be expensive and complicated, and it's obvious that it hasn't been done so far. Making the code open-source would be an obvious first step, but it's just the start of a long tedious process. Fortunately, there's no real reason to do it, since it's so much easier to stick with paper ballots.
posted by sfenders at 1:56 PM on November 5, 2004


But they are as good as we can make them

Man, that's rich. Thank goodness this comes from a troll or I might have to bother rebutting that piece of paper and pen can do a better job than a Diebold.

There is no way to prove it, but I can honestly say that if Kerry won I would still be writing the letters I am writing begging the powers that be to only use devices that allow for oversight. My state used Diebold machines, and my county and State both gave their votes to Kerry, but I am still complaining that I want a paper trail.

For those who don't think a paper trail is necessary, I wonder if you also don't ask for receipts when you make an important purchase.
posted by terrapin at 1:59 PM on November 5, 2004


I've long thought that the GOP spin machine ran lots of tests to find out just what margin of victory would make the recount question go away and that they could have pretty easily manipulated the results to achieve that margin. Of course, I've got nothing to base it on, just a deep seated distrust of people that refuse to allow inspection of elections.

duuuuude...get outta my head! i feel the same way.

and i reached that conclusion because i figured that's what i would do if i used my powers for evil. mundus vult decipi.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:02 PM on November 5, 2004


And while we're on the subject of Randi Rhodes, she's got an awesome, absolutely damning video of the shrub GIVING THE FINGER.
posted by shoos at 2:03 PM on November 5, 2004


she's got an awesome, absolutely damning video of the shrub GIVING THE FINGER.

So does my mother.
posted by jpoulos at 2:09 PM on November 5, 2004


And as far as the STFU comment: it just shows the value libs place on free speech. It only applies when they agree with it.

What point? That elections are imperfect? Granted. But they are as good as we can make them, and unless you can show that fraud and not human error was the problem here, all you're saying is that Dems are a bunch of sore losers.

I'm so sick of the Chewbacca defense and the "Look over here!" defense.

Debunking statement 1: STFU implicitely means "I think you're an idiot and don't appreciate you speaking, you're tiring me with your words, so shut up". It's a statement of opinion, not a statement that "You have no right to talk" -- yet you somehow turn it into "You libs argue for free speech and are trying to censor me!".. This makes no sense.

Debunking statement 2: So, if human error and not fraud means that Kerry should have won the election - it's okay that Bush wins anyway because hey, honest mistake? I, for one, and I think most people, don't give a rat's ass WHY the numbers were wrong. We care THAT they were wrong. Again - you're trying to divert the argument and turn it around saying "you're a bunch of stupid whiners" - when your argument falls on its head. Who cares if it was human error or fraud? Once you see an error this big in one place - you should check for errors in other places, regardless of the cause of that error. You should also, of course, seek to find the cause of that error.


I'm tired of the fact that any time any non bush supporter (I'm not a liberal) says anything that provokes any sort of actual thought, some conservative "lib hater" has to say "shut up liberal hippies" instead of bring up any sort of coherent intelligent point whatsoever.

If you had responded with a link to an article saying "County X has error in Kerry's favor", I'd have said - interesting, looks like either both sides are dirty, or there's just a general problem with the ovting process that doesn't lean toward either party - let's discuss! But none of the conservative folks respond with that. It's always the chewbacca defense, or "Look over there, a monkey! Now shut up hippy!"...
posted by twiggy at 2:12 PM on November 5, 2004


The problem is that to make computerized voting as secure as paper, you'd have to supervise and monitor the whole manufacturing process of the machines. There's no way to confirm that the software is in a correct state after it gets deployed. There's no practical way to confirm that the *hardware* is in a correct state after it's been shipped out.

This is far too pessimistic. First, you make the vote counting application itself open source. This vastly reduces the chance that the code is either accidentally or purposely wrong without someone eventually seeing it. You also have cryptographic hashes for the code itself and all of the data that gets generated. Before the device in installed, and before it's taken away, you have a separate application that verifies the code in the voting machine, the initial state, and the data generated by the machine. All of this is done under the watch of independent observers.

We know how to do this stuff. It's not trivial, but it's really not rocket science either.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:18 PM on November 5, 2004


jpoulos: have your mother get the word out. Have her upload it into the internet.
posted by shoos at 2:19 PM on November 5, 2004


sfenders: nice post. Combine it with Armitage reference to fingerprinting software and you get a Slashdot worth post :) (at least worth of Slashdot before the era of front page advertisement links..but I digress).

What would be really interesting to find something about the history of voting machines..and here it is and here something a little more visual

I don't get the obsession for fast counting and using machines in the voting process. People worked for years with instruments as simple as an Abacus and counting votes doesn't even really require one, as paper and pen are more then enough...maybe a pocket calculator if you really are no good with sums :) but it can be arranged to NOT EVEN need a calculator and it's quite simple.
posted by elpapacito at 2:19 PM on November 5, 2004


In three heavy Democrat strong holds, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, Bush increased the votes for him by 25.18%, 37.68% and 31.51% respectively,

Hey, whatever happened to those "misplaced" absentee ballots in Broward county, anyway? Weren't there 58,000 or something?
posted by mecran01 at 2:25 PM on November 5, 2004


I don't get the obsession for fast counting and using machines in the voting process.

because in america, it's more important that a thing be done quickly than it is that it be done well.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:28 PM on November 5, 2004


lord_wolf_ hopefully that doesn't include having sex
posted by elpapacito at 2:33 PM on November 5, 2004


Before the device in installed, and before it's taken away, you have a separate application that verifies the code in the voting machine

1: you don't need a separate "application", you need a separate device, with its own known-good hardware/software hardware, that would have to travel around and inspect all the voting machines. 2: verifying the large numbers of those devices that would be needed is only a little less hard than verifying the machines themselves before they get deployed (and keeping track of them on the way out.) 3: Maybe I'm being too paranoid, but verifying the voting machine that way would be *hard*. What if someone has modified the firmware of the disk controller, you're really going to be able to detect that?
posted by sfenders at 2:36 PM on November 5, 2004


Hey, whatever happened to those "misplaced" absentee ballots in Broward county, anyway? Weren't there 58,000 or something?

My friends (at college) just plum never got them.
posted by rafter at 2:37 PM on November 5, 2004


I am about the most non-partisan person I know. On election day, I voted for an equal number of Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians ... or so the computer screen told me I did. I have no way to prove that to myself or anyone else other than trusting that when I hit the enter button and the screen said my vote was entered that it was and hadn't just drifted off into the ether and vanished or was tallied incorrectly. I have not been happy with the voting process since we got these damn things. I never feel like I have actually voted.

The very first time I voted, it was in one of those huge old lever machines. I didn't like it either for the exact same reason ... I pushed the levers for the people I wanted to vote for, but I had no way of knowing for certain that my vote had been cast or that it had been cast correctly, and no one else would have been able to tell either. I was ever so thankful when I moved to a county that actually used paper and pencils. I marked the people I wanted to vote for, the paper was read by a machine and then it was dropped in a locked ballot box as a backup. We have had recounts here. First they'd feed them through the machines again. If there were still doubts (and this has happened at least once on local elections), the actual pieces of paper were actually counted by real human beings who actually were able to LOOK at the real votes of real people and tally them. Sure it was a time consuming and tiresome process for those involved (and those of us waiting), but whenever it has happened, I have alway known that my vote was counted exactly as I had wanted it to be. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that a person had been handed that ballot with that serial number on it and had used a pencil to make those marks. But that's in the past now. All they can basically do these days is open a file and say "yup, that's how many people voted that way!" As someone further up thread said, it takes a huge error before anything would be noticed as being wrong. It's not a comfortable feeling.

It doesn't matter which "side" I may be on or who I want to have win, I want everyone's damn vote counted. Period. To all those who say "your guy lost ... get over it", wouldn't it be a nice feeling to know that your guy actually won fairly and squarely with all votes correctly counted and tabulated? Sure, this time "your guy" won, but if the shoe was on the other foot, wouldn't you like to know that you hadn't been screwed by voting machine fuck-ups? Or that he had actually lost, and by exactly how much? Or is a vote so worthless these days that mistakes can be made in the thousands and it doesn't matter so long as "your guy" appears to win? If that's so, then we might as well not bother.

And I'm not even talking about fraud, just computer and software errors and machine screw-ups and systems that are so user unfriendly that human error is a problem. Fraud is a whole other kettle of fish. We can't even begin to stop voting fraud until we have a system in place that is even able to count legitimate votes correctly. One person, one vote, all of them counted with a paper trail that can be verified by the voter before it vanishes into a box for potential later verification of the numbers. You wouldn't think that would be asking for too much.

Paper and pencils people. It's worked the world over for ages. Sure, you might not have the instant gratification of knowing within hours of the polls closing who won, but isn't getting it right worth a few days (or even weeks) wait? I think it is.
posted by Orb at 2:39 PM on November 5, 2004


shoos: The video of bush giving the finger is already on the internet.
posted by estey at 2:40 PM on November 5, 2004


jpoulos: have your mother get the word out. Have her upload it into the internet.

It's been all over the place for the past week and a half, shoos. Including on the front page of Metafilter. I don't know how you missed it.

As for "absolutely damning": I really don't think anyone on either side actually gives a flying fuck about Bush flipping the bird ten years ago.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:41 PM on November 5, 2004


It's too late guys. I was watching (IIRC) the NBC evening news on November 3 and I saw a news report that basically said "all the predictions of problems with electronic voting turned out to be baseless" and I thought to myself "how the fuck would they know?" (Actually, I screamed it at the TV.) The day after the election the "liberal" media gave e-voting machines a blessing. Nothing to see here. Move along.
posted by AstroGuy at 2:41 PM on November 5, 2004


I was being absolutely facetious. sorry :(
posted by shoos at 2:43 PM on November 5, 2004


I'm so sick of the Chewbacca defense...

Oh, I dunno. It worked pretty well for the Packers...

Seriously, twiggy. What in hell is the "Chewbacca defense"?
posted by RakDaddy at 2:44 PM on November 5, 2004


sfender : Maybe I'm being too paranoid Nope dude not really, I think you're approaching the "who's controlling the controller" circular problem , one of the reasons we could use a reeeeealy simple voting system that, maybe, could be so simple average Joe could help in checking it.

Hey, after all you see in all the above post we got a whole lot of Joes asking other Joes "where dat wot of mine ?" or more eloquently and politely "Gosh ! Archibald call the Major my vote was lost ! Euh !" ...that the voting system is currently sucking HARD is well understood all over the place.

On a tangent to xenophobes at large: half the world is laughing at how you collect votes :D Can't really blame them for this rerun of the last election.
posted by elpapacito at 2:48 PM on November 5, 2004


Speaking of black boxes, my sweetie brought up an interesting point. He noted that e-vote machines mean no more write-in candidates. For any election.

That sucks.
posted by dejah420 at 2:53 PM on November 5, 2004


From what I read, the old mechanical voting machines have no paper record either: they're just like water meters, rotating mechanical-digital number wheels with each pull of the lever. Is that correct?

No, it's not. Lever-type voting machines actually punch a standard-guage punch card. They're mechanical, not human-punched, so they tend not to have "hanging chads". Also, a competent state elections board tests and qualifies its machines before each election; this year in NYS, for example, the disqualified a sh*tload of them (so much that they're worried about having enough for the future -- apparently nobody makes these things anymore).

[Source: a friend who works closely with the local elections people.]
posted by lodurr at 2:54 PM on November 5, 2004


elections are imperfect? Granted. But they are as good as we can make them

lolololol Thanks for the laugh.

Calm down, everyone. Soon we will dispense with this pretense at holding "elections," fair or otherwise. They're working on it. It's time to let go of your reality-based biases. Those of you who fought, fought, and those who sat it out sat it out. But it's over now. This cat will never go back in the bag.
posted by rushmc at 2:57 PM on November 5, 2004


Soon we will dispense with this pretense at holding "elections," fair or otherwise. They're working on it

Damn the aliens from Omicron Persei are here already ? Ok ok let's get ready..... let me get the phaser be right back

*smiles, keeps smiling..sllloooowly walks away keeping eyes on rushmc*
posted by elpapacito at 3:06 PM on November 5, 2004


hopefully that doesn't include having sex

heh. i'll keep my opinions about that to myself.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:11 PM on November 5, 2004


RakDaddy, I give you: The Chewbacca Defense:
Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk, but Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now, think about that. That does not make sense! Why would a Wookiee - an eight foot tall Wookiee - want to live on Endor with a bunch of two foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense!

What does that have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense!

None of this makes sense.

If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.
posted by contessa at 3:33 PM on November 5, 2004


Contessa, the part of me that loves debate just told me that it now quits. It's going to be nothing but the Chewbacca Defense from now on.
posted by RakDaddy at 3:58 PM on November 5, 2004


mrmanley: Unfortunately the link you suggest tells us which candidate won what state in 1960, but not by what margin (which is after all the crucial part of the information).

No matter... it turns out that in 1960, a number of states that JFK won were indeed very close. But guess what? Nixon challenged every one of them (and lost). The lesson obviously being that anyone who loses by a small margin should aggressively check to see if the election was stolen.
The answer then to your original question is that JFK was not an illegitimate president (as far as we can tell) because wherever claims of vote rigging (or simply undercounts) were brought to court, his majority was upheld. Whether there really was unprovable fraud, notably in Cook county, is a different issue.
posted by talos at 4:45 PM on November 5, 2004


dejah420: Even e-voting machines permit writeins... see the how-to graphic from the Write In Nader campaign site.
posted by mote at 4:55 PM on November 5, 2004


Regarding JFK -- I don't see why we need to be accused of having overlooked possible fraud in an election that was conducted before many of us (on MeFi) were born and while most of the rest were small children. The "you're just angry because you aren't the beneficiary" argument is stupid. .
It was overlooked by Nixon since the same could be said for him.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:57 PM on November 5, 2004


dejah420: Even e-voting machines permit writeins... see the how-to graphic from the Write In Nader campaign site.

The ES&S machine that I was forced to use did not have "write in" as a selectable option. Nor was there a keyboard or any method by which an entry could be made.
posted by dejah420 at 7:47 PM on November 5, 2004


Dejah, here in Austin we used the E-Slates (not touch-screen, still annoying), and yeah ... the only race where there was the option for a write-in candidate was our House Representative, and I suspect that is only because there was a write-in candidate running with a fairly decent campaign going on. There was no option to do a write-in on any other race that I could see anywhere ... which is wrong. I was always under the impression we had the right to write-in names for any race.
posted by Orb at 8:06 PM on November 5, 2004




not to distract from an interesting topic, but just want to respond :
(And I still don't understand how liberals can howl on one hand about the "missing" 540 tons of DMX/RDX explose, and on the other hand insist that Iraq didn't have WMDS.)

because all nations have traditional weapons; there is absolutely no way a country could be invaded for having explosives. It is basically part of the criteria for being a nation to begin with (the "national defense" being primary to the concept). So, no one ever suggested that iraq didn't have a military. But, Bushetc made the claim that saddam had got hold of something much more dangerous than regular explosives - nuclear weapons, or some terrible unknown in the form of chemical/biological technology that would kill in some horrifying way, etc. Anyway. Turns out this was plain old bunk. And, along the way, we lost track of some of those regular old weapons of mild to moderate destruction. But hoo boy did we lose track of a bunch of them. which is to say, tho' we didn't stop terrorists from getting hold of nuclear arms, at least we supplied them with some bombs!

posted by mdn at 8:19 PM on November 5, 2004


Can we then, in spite of the fact that this means that the voting process should be investigated and/or substantially improved and that these kinds of errors should be corrected and are indeed a worry, conclude, that since this margin or error did not alter or even come particularly close to altering the final outcome, possible future developments of a similar nature notwithstanding, that the following is true?...

George W. Bush is the legitimately, democratically elected President of the United States of America.

However unfortunate it may or may not be.
posted by ed\26h at 4:40 AM on November 6, 2004


rushmc: Soon we will dispense with this pretense at holding "elections," fair or otherwise. They're working on it

elpapacito: *smiles, keeps smiling..sllloooowly walks away keeping eyes on rushmc*


It's not crazytalk. If, ten years ago, someone told me that we'd have an election where one candidate got 4000 votes in a precinct that only cast 600, and that some people were arguing that it's not a big deal, and the media declared the election controversy-free, I would have called them delusional. Slipping away from democracy doesn't just happen over night, by executive decree. It happens gradually, so it doesn't make the headlines.
posted by jpoulos at 6:25 AM on November 6, 2004


I mean, Bush is already considering recess Supreme Court appointments to avoid congressional oversight, and Bill Frist is talking about changing the rules so that the dems can't filibuster.
posted by jpoulos at 6:26 AM on November 6, 2004


George W. Bush is the legitimately, democratically elected President of the United States of America.


Not until this election is verified and the electors are read to congress on January 6th. The media doesn't get to decide who won. I'm 99.9999% sure that Bush won this thing legit, and that nothing will come of picking over the vote counts. But this is how the system works.
posted by jpoulos at 9:51 AM on November 6, 2004


Let's rebuild your nearly 70 word sentence. First your premise:
Can we ... conclude ... that the following is true?

George W. Bush is the legitimately, democratically elected President of the United States of America.
Then your supporting arguments:
in spite of the fact that this means that the voting process should be investigated and/or substantially improved
Or, in other words, irregularities have been reported, but not investigated or resolved. This should not be the case.
these kinds of errors should be corrected and are indeed a worry
Or, these errors have not been corrected, nor widely reported nor even officially investigated. The fact that they happened is worrisome. The fact that this is the norm in American elections is frighteneing.

But then you conclude, midsentence:
since this margin or error did not alter or even come particularly close to altering the final outcome
If you have evidence that supports this claim, please share it. However, since the discovery and publication of one error does not in any way amount to a conclusive proof that there were no other errors, how can you propose that you know the rate of error or that it doesn't change the final outcome? Oh, I see. The caveat to your conclusion is
possible future developments of a similar nature notwithstanding
I'll tell you what. When the vote is audited on a massive scale in a manner that is transparent and non-partisan, no matter who wins, I'll gladly support the notion that the person who wins the most electoral votes is indeed the fairly elected president. Of course, I'll hold out until the election process completes with the casting of electoral college votes. If the audit does not happen before the votes are certified, if it's not done transparently, if it's a partisan hack job like Gore pulled off in Florida in 2000 or like the Supreme Court pulled the same year, I reserve the right to disagree.
posted by sequential at 10:11 AM on November 6, 2004


dejah420: Hmm. Perhaps nobody registered as a write-in candidate? There are forms and procedures that have to be followed for that, though they're much less strenuous.
posted by mote at 5:40 PM on November 6, 2004


Florida optical scanner stuff: In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.

In Dixie County, with 4,988 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.

The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats, went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25% for Bush.

Yet in the touch-screen counties, where investigators may have been more vigorously looking for such anomalies, high percentages of registered Democrats generally equaled high percentages of votes for Kerry. (I had earlier reported that county size was a variable – this turns out not to be the case. Just the use of touch-screens versus optical scanners.)

posted by amberglow at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2004


Olbermann just did a big thing on it on MSNBC--Some are pressing the GAO to investigate in the House.
posted by amberglow at 5:40 PM on November 8, 2004


Sequential: If I reply to that, will you address it? I don’t want to waste a load of time replying if it doesn’t get read, you see.
posted by ed\26h at 1:28 AM on November 9, 2004


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