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December 31, 2004 9:00 AM   Subscribe

20 Amazing Facts About Read this and cry. Or move to another country.
posted by Postroad (76 comments total)

 
sorry : clipped title should be
"20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA"

After this read seems we all got clipped too
posted by Postroad at 9:04 AM on December 31, 2004


sigh.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:06 AM on December 31, 2004


21. US Media (traditional) is complicit in their silence.
posted by HyperBlue at 9:07 AM on December 31, 2004


Yay! Corruption!
posted by hopeless romantique at 9:07 AM on December 31, 2004


[...to another country.] Or do something about it.

We often forget that this is an option...
posted by woil at 9:10 AM on December 31, 2004


Hm... these are not good things. But do you really think the voting was rigged? I'd think that with so many people watching it, with observers on both sides, it would be nearly impossible to rig an election on a national scale. No one could keep that kind of secret for very long.
posted by aerify at 9:12 AM on December 31, 2004


(yawn) Are we *still* going on about how Chimpy/Bushitler/Ashkkkroft stole the election? Dude, that is sooo 2004...

If there were any validity to any of the claims, the mainstream media would be all over it -- there would be NOTHING that wannabe-Woodward/Bernsteins would love more than to blow open a scandal of this size -- regardless of who the president is or what party is in office. Instead, we're subjected to commondreams, motherjones, blackboxvoting, etc.

The "legitimate" links seem to be deliberately picked to support the assertion being made -- for instance, Assertion #15: "None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio." Well, that sounds sufficiently conspiratorial and black-boxy, right? Until you read down towards the end of the piece and realize that there was nothing wrong with banning foreign observers -- or anyone else -- from the polling locations, because it's OHIO LAW that no one (other than voters, registrars, etc) can be within 100 feet of a polling location.

Let's move on, already...(heh)...
posted by davidmsc at 9:14 AM on December 31, 2004


Or do something about it.

We often forget that this is an option...


Voting was one of the best ways to do something about it...
posted by dopamine at 9:14 AM on December 31, 2004


FYI...Conyers will object to the Ohio electoral votes on the basis of tampering and fraud, and several senators are reportedly considering joining the objection.
posted by edverb at 9:15 AM on December 31, 2004


The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President's brother.

no way! what's that all about?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:19 AM on December 31, 2004


Read this and cry. Or move to another country.

Of course, we know which response you'll choose, huh postroad? Nothing new, and months later you're still on your crusade.

21. US Media (traditional) is complicit in their silence.

Please post which media outlets have not covered possible election fraud. I hear this over and over again. Please back up that statement.

Just because you repeat something often enough doesn't make it true.
posted by justgary at 9:22 AM on December 31, 2004


If there were any validity to any of the claims

In the more light than heat department...a credible overview of election irregularities have been compiled by House Judiciary Democrats.

A prime example of the validity of the allegations, and the studied indifference they've recieved in return can be found in this 15 page letter to Ohio SecState Ken Blackwell and his wholly inadequate response (PDF links).

For more on this (including GAO's investigation, FBI's investigations, and questions related to exit polling, voting machines and ballot tampering): links to the history of Judiciary Dems correspondence on the matter can be found here.
posted by edverb at 9:33 AM on December 31, 2004


Aerify, remember that in 2000, later-revealed voting anomalies put Bush into office. Gore won both popular AND electoral, yet his opponent went into office because mysterious errors went unnoticed until it was too late.
So excuse the paranoia.

Again, there's no sense in saying, right-out, "this was stolen!" It seems like it wasn't. But it seems as if Republicans tried anyway.

I know people who can connect Clinton to the murder of an ex-bodyguard's ex-girlfriend's ex-husband, yet roll their eyes at the possibility of fraud from Diebold, a company (I hear) manned by a guy on Bush's reelection committee. This is insanity.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 9:36 AM on December 31, 2004


#2 is what kills me. What possible reason could there be for no oversight?

If you read closely, justgary, you should have gleaned that a big part of the problem is that there's no way to compile evidence of election fraud when the counting software is black-box and there is no paper trail or accountability to any authority.
posted by scarabic at 9:37 AM on December 31, 2004


aerify, just how many people do you think would be required, in your opinion, to swing a close election in the U.S.?

My personal estimate: Less than a dozen.

I work as a programmer writing software for a large company that handles thousands of transactions every day. Of course, it's not nearly the scale of transactions that Diebold machines handle during elections. But I can confidently say that with closed-source programming, only the programmers of these systems would need to know about the bugs purposefully placed into them. On top of these people, you'd need about five others in contact with central tabulators in key districts to activate the bugs (assuming they weren't time-triggered anyway).

This is not a conspiracy theory, I'm only suggesting that just because the election is a very large thing, involving thousands, millions of people, doesn't mean corrupting it would require thousands of people. When you concentrate power and control in a central location, and disallow outside review of your process, you make it that much easier to corrupt any system.

I'm not saying this is what happened, but I am saying that this is certainly a possibility. It's also insanely easy to reduce these kinds of problems by opening the source code to public scrutiny, using cryptographic signatures of running software, setting all machines to an arbitrary date (to break date-triggers), having a human-readable printed record, and increasing physical security by orders of magnitude. This is all very simple, and the real question we should be asking is why those in power seem to hate these ideas so much.

Our voting software is not a commodity, and should not be treated as one company's "Intellectual Property." Voting software should not be designed and written by private companies and then hidden from public scrutiny. That much should be painfully obvious to anyone who cares at all about basic voting rights.
posted by odinsdream at 9:37 AM on December 31, 2004


I know I've heard this somewhere - that in a healthy Democracy, elections need to not only be free and fair but to appear free and fair, so as to earn the trust and confidence of the constituents. Can anyone dispute that the last two American elections were riddled with shit, ranging from hanging chads all the way up to the Supreme Court itself?

Bring on 2005...
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:39 AM on December 31, 2004


I don't dispute it, but I think it is likely that the level of shit was always there, it is just in the last two elections that things were so close that the level of shit approached the margin of error.
posted by obfusciatrist at 9:51 AM on December 31, 2004


Not margin of error, margin of victory.
posted by obfusciatrist at 9:53 AM on December 31, 2004


If there were any validity to any of the claims, the mainstream media would be all over it...

Yup. That's a comforting thought.
posted by 327.ca at 9:53 AM on December 31, 2004


dougunderscorenelso, you said Gore won popular and electoral in 2000...actually, Gore won the popular vote 48.38% to 47.87%, but GW won the electoral vote 271 to 266.
posted by eatyourlunch at 9:58 AM on December 31, 2004


From Alexandra Pelosi's Documentary "Diary of a Political Terrorist:"
(At a White House Function, Pelosi corners Congressman Peter King to ask about the then impending election.)

King: "It’s already over. The election’s over, we won."

Pelosi: "How do you know that?”"

King: "It’s all over but the counting, and we’ll take care of the counting"
posted by teatree at 9:58 AM on December 31, 2004


The truth lies within
posted by crusiera at 10:01 AM on December 31, 2004


odinsdream

I see your point about software but in any significant project there would normally be an independent testing function reponsible for quality. You'd need levels of management involved too, reasonably specific orders would have to come down from above, someone would have to coordinate implementation efforts, test it to make sure it all works, report results to the powers etc.

Not saying it couldn't happen just suggesting the circle of collusion would have to be wider than just a few actual coders.
posted by scheptech at 10:10 AM on December 31, 2004


Dr Grimm--I am not on a crusade of any sort but in fact found the interconnections worth thinkinbg about..I had not known there were so many. Did you? I suspect not. My "crusade" as you call it is to try to ensure a nicer future for voters. As for why I am still here: I am 75 years old and have served twice in the army and thus see no need to move at this point. I would prefer to stay and eat up yoursocial security...happy new year.
posted by Postroad at 10:27 AM on December 31, 2004


eatyourlunch : I believe that dougunderscorenelso's point is that since Gore actually won in Florida, that would change the electoral count so that he would win there as well.
posted by rfs at 10:38 AM on December 31, 2004


I hope this Congress thing pans out--i emailed Shumer to sign it. Anyone else who cares--please email or call your Senators and push this.
posted by amberglow at 10:44 AM on December 31, 2004


How about a list of all those nations where the voting is handled entirely by the government, or just one company?

Sorry, Bush still won. Kerry, the flippy-floppy loser, lost. Also, all those Democrats who won, and have won in the past, won under the same regime.

Nice waste of energy, you conspiracy freak!
posted by ParisParamus at 10:48 AM on December 31, 2004


Way to ignore the task at hand, ParisParamus.
posted by Plinko at 11:01 AM on December 31, 2004


Please post which media outlets have not covered possible election fraud. I hear this over and over again. Please back up that statement


Since it's all over the news it should be easy for you to tell us which media outlets are on the story in Ohio. Not just in the couple of weeks after the election, but now, weeks before the inauguration. Not many major news outlets with recent stories in this google search.

What about Washington State?



Oh, and what odinsdream and F_o_F said.
posted by HyperBlue at 11:07 AM on December 31, 2004


The utter inability of the right to address these concerns on the merits is telling. Not a single worthwhile defense has been raised by them in two months of being confronted with hard evidence of tampering and fraud for Bush's benefit.

I sincerely hope that one senator signs on to John Conyer's objection...observing the howling from the neo-fascist apparat will be something akin to watching vampires disintegrate when exposed to sunlight.
posted by edverb at 11:31 AM on December 31, 2004


Ohio's Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who administers the elections in Ohio and also happened to head the re-elect Bush/Cheney campaign in Ohio, continually refuses to even discuss the many irregularities in the Ohio voting process, claiming that the recount activity is frivolous. Frivolous! He considers it frivolous for a group of citizens to lawfully pay for and ask for a recount due to numerous complaints by voters. There are rules for such examinations of the vote. So apparently the government doesn't think recounts are frivolous, else this same government wouldn't have rules and protocols to guide that activity. I would think that if Blackwell were right (and he well may be) then he would come clean with the information and let everyone see how frivolous it all is. Instead he delays, obfuscates, ignores... anything he can do short of providing real information and real accountability. I still haven't heard a good explanation for that behavior.

Unfortunately, it's all too easy for people like PP to frame it as a left/right issue instead of an accountability issue that affects us all regardless of our politics.
posted by Buzz at 11:32 AM on December 31, 2004


Since it's all over the news it should be easy for you to tell us which media outlets are on the story in Ohio.

A 10-second Nexis search for "election fraud" and "ohio" turned up 85 stories in the past month alone. Among the "traditional" news outlets with stories on the subject: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, The Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, The Detroit Free Press, The Boston Globe, Fox News, The Village Voice and The Tennessean.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 11:35 AM on December 31, 2004


posted by ParisParamus at 1:48 PM EST on December 31

How about a list of all those nations where the voting is handled entirely by the government, or just one company?

Why not, ParisParamus ? You should do this. I'm not sure what it might prove, but it would make for a decent fpp. Please incluse all those countries who do not vote at all. And this will prove what?

Sorry, Bush still won. Kerry, the flippy-floppy loser, lost. Also, all those Democrats who won, and have won in the past, won under the same regime.

I think the real issue here is that, regardless of who won, the entire system is crap, and needs to be totally scrapped or overhauled, and under the umbrella of non-partisan oversight.

Nice waste of energy, you conspiracy freak!

Gratuitous "neener neener". Whatever.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:41 AM on December 31, 2004


Wow. This is amazing. Here I was thinking Bush won because Kerry is lame.

odinsdream: sure, a few programmers could fix the election. But couldn't a few, um, vote counters do the same thing?

Both sides play hard trying to get the win, but I think there is more honor and honesty today that there was 100 or 200 years ago. Elections in the 1700s and 1800s were a lot dirtier than they are now.

Republican or Democrat, I think we all realize if we fix the election our country is really no better off than Crapholeistan.
posted by b_thinky at 11:46 AM on December 31, 2004


The willful ignorance of people like davidmsc and ParisParamus is astounding.

I guarantee you, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that if the party affiliations of the vote tabulators were switched, if all the errors helped Democrats, and if Democrats had won the last two elections, the both of you would be livid and frothing with palpable rage.

You miss the very important point: fraud is not a requirement for there to be a problem (although to pretend that fraud was "impossible" given the actual evidence, you have to live in a world pretty far detached from reality). In a democracy, the appearance of fraud is just as bad as actual fraud. It delegitimizes the whole process. And in a recent poll, it was shown that fully half of all Americans now think the electoral process is rigged.

So we most certainly have the appearance of fraud, in spades. Indeed, if you took that list, and changed it to not refer to a specific country, my first response would be to pity the poor citizens of that pretend democracy, banana republic. Instead, it is us, the supposed greatest democracy.

I don't care if you think the reasons for the belief in fraud are valid. Totally irrelevant, even if you ever bothered to actually examine the evidence. The problem is, half of America has lost faith in the democratic process, and absolutely nothing is being done to change that.

This is not business as usal, folks. Good things aren't in store for America, I fear. We had our run, it was fun while it lasted.
posted by teece at 12:09 PM on December 31, 2004


"I voted electronically, and all I got was this lousy president."
posted by gigawhat? at 1:05 PM on December 31, 2004


Teatree: It's actually Diary of a Political Tourist. A followup to Travels with George. It's quite an interesting film, and made me never ever want to run for president.

Also, the comment in question was given duing some whitehouse BBQ function, I took it as more funny than menacing.
posted by absalom at 1:40 PM on December 31, 2004


Wow. This is amazing. Here I was thinking Bush won because Kerry is lame. That couldn't be the reason, because Bush is triple-lame.
posted by lathrop at 1:47 PM on December 31, 2004


ParisParamus cues right on time with a freak callout.
posted by RockCorpse at 2:04 PM on December 31, 2004


I see your point about software but in any significant project there would normally be an independent testing function reponsible for quality. You'd need levels of management involved too, reasonably specific orders would have to come down from above, someone would have to coordinate implementation efforts, test it to make sure it all works, report results to the powers etc.

Not saying it couldn't happen just suggesting the circle of collusion would have to be wider than just a few actual coders.


Did you know these fun facts? There was no independent testing of the software. Management was involved. Whatever "orders" there were, they were specific enough to dictate where and how hidden fields should operate on touch-screen machines. Test it? Hah. Report results is synonymous with "win the election." So, with your suggestions in mind, I revise my estimate to anywhere from 12 to 80 people. That's hardly a lot. The larger point, though, is that we shouldn't have to trust these people. They could be as crooked as ever. What we need are standards that ensure that the system is strong. If we can review the code, and we have physical security, we can get closer to trusting the system, no matter who's running it.

A 10-second Nexis search for "election fraud" and "ohio" turned up 85 stories in the past month alone. Among the "traditional" news outlets with stories on the subject: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, The Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, The Detroit Free Press, The Boston Globe, Fox News, The Village Voice and The Tennessean.

I'm just curious - Did these stories say something along the lines of, "...Blackwell denies any charges of election fraud in Ohio..." ?

The context is more important than the number of newspapers that contain the words "election...fraud...ohio."

Paris, how do you ever clean all the filth off?
posted by odinsdream at 2:11 PM on December 31, 2004


"Maybe. Who cares?" said Slartibartfast before Arthur got too excited. "Perhaps I'm old and tired," he continued, "but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied. Look at me: I design coastlines. I got an award for Norway."
posted by NickDouglas at 2:32 PM on December 31, 2004


If you've been following the Ohio recount efforts, you're aware that the the raw data from the election day exit polls has not been forthcoming from the mainstream media. Many of the people working on the recount efforts believe that it is important to examine this data, because exit polls are usually very accurate, and this time they were dead wrong. An anomaly like that was a big reason the US called for a revote in the Ukraine. Apparently there's a bit of a double standard there, but I digress.

It appears that the scoop.co.nz website has come up with the exit poll data.
posted by Buzz at 2:34 PM on December 31, 2004


teece: The willful ignorance of people like davidmsc and ParisParamus is astounding.

You know, "our" side says exactly the same thing about "your" side.
posted by davidmsc at 2:39 PM on December 31, 2004


First off: I am not an American, so my emotional involvement in this topic is way low. But as a person interested in politics, my interest is relatively high.

I don't claim to know if there was vote fraud or not. To me, both sides in this seem unreasonable. There's people yelling CONSPIRACY!! and all conspiracy theorists sound a bit like whack-jobs to me. But on the other hand there's the people who dismiss even a discussion of the topic. Just saying a grandfatherly "trust us" as if that's enough.

If this was my own country, I wouldn't be jumping to the concusion that there was a concerted effort to rig the election. But I would have a major issue with a system that wasn't transparent. Why can't there ever be a recount? Why can't I verify that the system has registered the vote I intended? Why can't anyone view the source code in the machines to see if there are even unintentional errors? These are the questions that would bother me. If their system is so damn infallible, then they should darn well prove it.

This is one thing I would not trust a private corporation to do. They make choices to accept a certain amount of faultiness in the interest of saving costs. Their threshold for acceptable risk - because it is motivated by profit - could be significantly different than that of concerned citizens.
posted by raedyn at 2:43 PM on December 31, 2004


odinsdream, are you kidding? PP is in on it!
posted by RockCorpse at 2:43 PM on December 31, 2004


I guarantee you, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that if the party affiliations of the vote tabulators were switched, if all the errors helped Democrats, and if Democrats had won the last two elections, the both of you would be livid and frothing with palpable rage.

More likely, members of their party would be engaging in violence until they got their way. Remember what happened last time.
posted by goethean at 4:09 PM on December 31, 2004


Thank you Raedyn!!
posted by Balisong at 6:18 PM on December 31, 2004


The thing that bothers me most about the Republican response to things like this is total derision, utter dismissal and denigration of the character of the person or persons who brought it up.

An auditable paper trail ISN'T too much too ask for. It should be demanded for by everyone. A national voter record database should be available so that every voter can verify for themselves that their vote was tallied properly.

Any arguments for a closed voting system are false and based on a need to keep the wraps on the machinery to stay in control of the machinery.

And new folks? Don't pay any attention to ParisParamus, he's sort of like quonsar, only not funny, not interesting and more or less just trolling for attention. On second thought, he's not like quonsar at all. Just ignore him and he'll go and find other people to bug.
posted by fenriq at 6:23 PM on December 31, 2004


I want to echo raedyn's sentiment, but unlike raedyn I am a US citizen, and voted, and my pick didn't win.

But if you don't like the system, work to change it. The amazing thing is if a sufficient number of people feel strongly about something, they can create change.

Work to have your favorite senator or representive bring up a bill to deal with it. Reach out to the county election officials in your area. Support organizations like votewatch.

Here's the problem the left is creating for itself: Its trying to create outrage over the issue so that someone will fix it. There are at least two problems with this approach
1) Most people get tired of hearing about problems, especially after the umpteenth time they've heard about it. If you're going to create outrage, you have to provide a clear outlet for people to vent the outrage, otherwise they'll turn apathetic to your cause.
2) There is no "someone" to fix the problem that's important to you. If you think its a problem, its up to you to figure out ways to make it better. Telling people about a problem without offering solutions = whining.

I've seen TONS of stuff about problems, I've seen virtually nil on mobilizing people towards solutions. I like Votewatch's approach, so will support them. I follow these links to see if anybody else is actually doing anything about the issue, and I continue to be disappointed. But I am hopeful that will change eventually.
posted by forforf at 7:15 PM on December 31, 2004


Here's what I would like to see in a voting "machine":

1. Mechanical tally inside the voting "box"
2. Electronic tally stored inside voting "box"
3. Paper trail including encrypted receipts for voters that could verify who was voted for at official offices assuming you present a valid I.D. (i.e. take your receipt to the office to be decrypted and make sure your receipt says you voted for who you thought you voted for in the unlikely chance you chose to do such a thing.)
4. #3 is more important because your receipt is also encoded with the current vote tally on a particular machine so sequential vote receipts can be checked to make sure the tallies are consistent; it's especially easy to do this because all the encrypted vote receipts have also been uploaded to an online database (minus the information that would let someone determine who made the vote - so as to avoid being able to sell votes and whatnot).

This way you can check the mechanical tally against the electronic tally against the paper trail against the online database.

I'm just a layman nobody so maybe this is all impractical/useless/over-simplified garbage, but then again I shouldn't be compelled to have to think about this stuff.
posted by freethought at 7:29 PM on December 31, 2004


The willful ignorance of people like davidmsc and ParisParamus is astounding.

You know, "our" side says exactly the same thing about "your" side.


Which is really the root of the problem in America. Both sides need to stop thinking the otherside is composed only of fools or "useful idiots" and work together.
posted by drezdn at 7:36 PM on December 31, 2004


Metafilter: sort of like quonsar, only not funny, not interesting and more or less just trolling for attention.

I can ignore PP's trolling, but I can't ignore his opinions. There are a lot of other Americans who think the same way and they, for about half, welcome our new divide-and-conquer overlords. We can not -- we must not allow the issue of secure elections to remain a battle of left vs. right.

On preview, what drezdn said, for the most part.
posted by Buzz at 8:20 PM on December 31, 2004


I voted damn republican my whole life, so I say with relish:

My 'side' is a bunch of fucking idiots.

Creating a paper trail & having some sort of objective management of the system is perfectly reasonable. To deny that not having such is a problem is to make yourself look like an unthinking idiot. It isn't that hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes.
posted by UseyurBrain at 8:57 PM on December 31, 2004


I lie regularly to telemarketers - I'd lie to a an exit pollster, or tell them it was none of their business. Could it be a lot of Democrats crossed the line, but lied to the exit poll folks about who they voted for?

A long time back, I read a short story (think it was by Asimov, called "Franchise") about a Presidential election that was decided by taking one person and interviewing him about a number of different things. Then all the info was fed into Univac, and the computer determined who the President was going to be.

The elector didn't get a vote.

Seems to me like some are giving the exit poll data more weight than the actual vote. I'm not sure that's a wise thing to do, and seems to set the stage for a precedent where the actual vote itself is of negligible importance.

BTW, Happy New Year!

JB.
posted by JB71 at 9:45 PM on December 31, 2004


Paris, you damn well know if it was the other way around you'd be screaming "CONSPIRACY!" from the rooftops.
posted by deborah at 10:09 PM on December 31, 2004


5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.

Not only that, but he came out of VIRTUAL OBSCURITY (no one in Nebraska had ever really heard of him) to decisively beat a popular governor for the Senate seat.

There was certainly some cahootinizing going one. Problem is ... I kinda like Hagel.
posted by RavinDave at 10:15 PM on December 31, 2004


Seems to me like some are giving the exit poll data more weight than the actual vote. I'm not sure that's a wise thing to do, and seems to set the stage for a precedent where the actual vote itself is of negligible importance.

The actual vote? Is that data available? I think those people are after any data they can get, because they are being told they must show proof of fraud before they can even petition for an audience to discuss the possibility. And, um, I think it's a little late for setting the stage, considering we're already most of the way through the second act of that particular performance.
posted by Buzz at 11:11 PM on December 31, 2004


JB: you're statement is appealing on a certain level, but in reality fundamentally wrong.

An election was just completely invalidated in the Ukraine: the instigator for that was a radical difference from the exit polls and the result of the vote tally.

Have you ever heard of UN election monitors? Guess what they do: they are exit pollsters, in large part.

Too much weight is not being given to exit polls -- the opposite is the case. Too little weight is being given. An exit poll is an extremely useful measuring tool, built upon some mathematics (prob. and stat.) and some science (design of experiments, sampling) that is extremely solid. Multi-million dollar, life-or-death decisions are made with the kind of science that an exit poll represents every day.

Your anecdotatal evidence that you lie to pollsters is apocryphal. Sure people do it: they don't do it systemically. They do it in a random way. The entire science of prob. and stat. is developed to take care of that randomness.

We need to figure out why the exit polls were so wrong: it was not a matter of random chance. Either the American vote tallying system counted the votes wrong (note: that is not the same thing as saying election fraud took place), or the exit polls were fundamentally skewed. We do not know which is the case.

The fact that finding out which one is the case is not America's number 1 priority is actually extremely worrying to me, because the very foundations of our democracy are called into question here.
posted by teece at 12:14 AM on January 1, 2005


These folks are on the case. Tin foil hatters? Maybe. Organized and sincere? Definitely.

My feeling is let the light shine on the election. If it stands up to scrutiny, then fine. But if there's some monkey-business that took place, it should be uncovered.

One way or the other, though, it may take a while for all the allegations to be addressed. If you remember, Watergate took many months to untangle.
posted by Doohickie at 1:15 AM on January 1, 2005


Eh. This stuff might be worth looking into, but it's not worth wasting much energy on.

I have little doubt that the exit polls that favored Kerry were a bit more biased, and certainly more inaccurate, than the final tally established by evil, evil Diebold.

If the Democrats had found someone really worth voting for in the first place, none of this would have been an issue. I voted for him, but John Kerry was not the man to bring down George Bush. I think a lot of us knew that from the start.

Instead of griping about possible irregularities in voting software, what say we just go find a better candidate?
posted by sellout at 2:09 AM on January 1, 2005


I have little doubt that the exit polls that favored Kerry were a bit more biased, and certainly more inaccurate, than the final tally established by evil, evil Diebold.

sellout, you really don't understand. There is one set of exit poll data, taken by two groups working in concert. Your "little doubt" that the exit poll data is wrong (despite no evidence either way) isn't worth anything. The simple *fact* of the matter is that exit polls are reliable tools, and that they damn well should predict the winner nicely in all but the closest of close races (which this race was not, as far as the math is concerned).

The exit polls that favored Kerry were all of them. In damn near every single swing state, the exit polls showed a Kerry win. In every case, Bush got a very large swing in his direction, and it was not by chance. The possibility for a f*cked up exit poll methodology exists, but the science behind it is fairly well understood, and there is nothing other than hand-waving hypothosising, not any actual evidence of that.

Which is rather the point: we should be finding out what happened. If the exit polls were bad, lets determine that and be done with this. Whether or not you think Kerry was a terrible candidate is 100% irrelavant. What if there were vote fraud, not saying there was, but what if there were? With your attitude, we would never find out about it. The best candidate in the world can't win an unfair election, and the fairness of our elections have now been called into question two elections running.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!
posted by teece at 2:45 AM on January 1, 2005


teece,

No, I do understand. And exit polls, though reliable, are imperfect and have a margin of error. Taking a look back at the data from Ohio and Florida exit polls, as posted by Slate, you can see that both states showed a 51-49 result in favor of Kerry. Exit polls also predicted Kerry wins in New Mexico and Nevada, and a close race in North Carolina.

Being well-versed in poll methodology, I'm sure you know that a typical 3/4 point margin of error would certainly allow for the 51-49 Bush victory in Ohio, as well as the 52-48 Bush win in Florida. And by the definition of the margin of error, this could absolutely be determined by chance or polling errors.

Read this. There are a few comments here that decline to place blame solely on inaccurate exit polling, but for the most part, the experts quoted here agree that the exit polls reported by Slate never should have been assumed to be 100% accurate. By the end of election night, it was obvious that they weren't.

But you knew all of this already, and it's not really central to the argument.

What if there were vote fraud, not saying there was, but what if there were?

Then sure, someone should find out what happened, and I have no doubt that Top Men are on the case as we speak.

My attitude isn't that the potential fraud should be ignored, my attitude is that we as individual Democrats are wasting too much energy hemming and hawing over things that have already happened. We're searching around for excuses for why we lost and how Republicans are to blame, when in the end, it's our own candidate's lack of marketability that lost the election. Bush kicked our ass, and it wasn't because of Diebold.

My point is that we should stop looking back wistfully at what could have been in '04, which is what so many Democrats are doing when they see links like this one. It's over, we lost. George W Bush is going to be in the White House for another four years. Let's stop talking about moving out of the country and look forward instead.

Sure, let's do what we can to make sure that upcoming elections are absolutely clean. Let the experts look into the potential irregularities, demand that international observers be given access to the polls, and so on. But more importantly, let's go and find the best candidate in the world. Even Diebold can't subtly overturn a landslide Democrat victory.
posted by sellout at 12:16 PM on January 1, 2005


sellout: Which candidate is better than the other is irrelevant when we're talking about the potential for a system to be defrauded.

Even Diebold can't subtly overturn a landslide Democrat victory.

No, but you're putting the cart before the horse. Landslides aren't possible in a fraudulent system.
posted by odinsdream at 1:33 PM on January 1, 2005


sellout: You've had too much koolade.
posted by Doohickie at 2:27 PM on January 1, 2005


odinsdream:
Which candidate is better than the other is irrelevant when we're talking about the potential for a system to be defrauded.

You're absolutely right. Fraud is fraud no matter who's running against whom, and if there's potential for fraud, then sure, it should be investigated.

However, I'm not talking about the potential for any system to be defrauded, and neither is the link in this FPP. It's talking specifically about the 2004 election. From what I've seen, fraud may have taken place in two places in the 2004 election: Ohio and Florida. This doesn't tell me that the system as a whole is fraudulent, only that a few machines in these two states may have been. Great, someone really ought to look into that, and I'm sure someone is.

What I'm getting at is how links like these make Democrats think maybe something can be done about the 2004 election well after it's over. It can't. They make us think the election was stolen from us. It wasn't. We just plain got outvoted. (Whether you fall into the category of hopefuls, I don't know.)

People will investigate Diebold's involvement, and we should demand the cleanest possible election the next time around. No question. But it's time to move on. John Kerry and the Democratic Party are, and so should the rest of us.

No, but you're putting the cart before the horse. Landslides aren't possible in a fraudulent system.

I disagree. This is not a fraudulent system. It's a very, very good system that may or may not have pockets of fraud. It's a system in which landslides are entirely possible.

doohickie: No, I'm a skeptic. I'm just not into grasping at straws to save a lost election.
posted by sellout at 3:17 PM on January 1, 2005


Since it's all over the news it should be easy for you to tell us which media outlets are on the story in Ohio.

That's not how things work hyperblue. YOU make the claim, YOU back it up.

Someone already proved you wrong, but you can do a search on cnn and find an article on ohio vote fraud on the 13th of december.

Of course, someone else now claims it's not about the coverage, but the way it's covered.

Let's be honest here. The complaints are because the media isn't demanding a recount, or are not more on your side. But to say they haven't covered it is flat out false, and something you can't back up, and have not.
posted by justgary at 7:06 PM on January 1, 2005


sellout- I'll grasp at straws for now. It's all I've got.

Peace.
posted by Doohickie at 10:48 PM on January 1, 2005


No, I do understand. And exit polls, though reliable, are imperfect and have a margin of error. Taking a look back at the data from Ohio and Florida exit polls, as posted by Slate, you can see that both states showed a 51-49 result in favor of Kerry. Exit polls also predicted Kerry wins in New Mexico and Nevada, and a close race in North Carolina.

No, you don't understand at all, and you are not anywhere near as well versed as you would like to think.

Margin of error on these exit polls: 1.1%. Each individual swing away from Kerry to Bush was outside that margin of error, in every single swing state. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

Pick the three states that counted a lot, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the chance of that happening was a million to one.

If you think the discrepancy between the exit polls and the vote tallies had anything to do with chance, you have demonstrated quite amply that you don't understand the exit polls (or random error), at all.
posted by teece at 11:04 PM on January 1, 2005


"Yeah, that's right. We rigged the election. What are you going to do about it? Huh, punk?!"

- President George W. Bush, looking at himself in the mirror every morning
posted by Darkman at 11:29 PM on January 1, 2005


Oops, typing too fast and thinking while under the influence of cold medicine led me to misstate my case in my last post.

Sellout: some of the swing states had shifts that were within margin of error, some had shifts that were well outside margin of error. The 1.1% is for the ~13,000 strong sample for the nation-wide prediction of popular vote total. The shift from Kerry to Bush was outside the margin of error in that one (considerably so).

But more to the point I was trying to make last time: in every swing-state, we saw a shift from Kerry to Bush when we compare exit polls with vote tallies. Some of those shifts could be called random, as they were within the CI. Others weren't.

But the telling thing about them, is that in EVERY SINGLE CASE the shift was FROM Kerry, TO Bush. That is not a random sampling error: had it been, the shift would have shown the usual, well, randomness: some cases over predicting for Kerry, and in other cases over predicting for Bush. But that is not what happened: in every swing state, the exit polls over predicted for Kerry.

If you look at the odds of the top three swing states (FL, PN, OH) shifting as they did, you find that the likelihood of that shift taking place was a million to one. Statisticians have a word for that probability: it is zero. You would not accept the discrepancy between the exit polls and the vote tallies as random, period, under any method of statistical analysis.

The difference between the exit-polls and the vote tallies is not a random error. There is no honest statistician alive that would say so. Either the exit-polls were systemically flawed to over-select Kerry voters, or the vote-tally was wrong.

You are taking your skepticism way too far. There are certainly things that could cause this that are not vote fraud. And I, for one, suspect there is little chance of ever finding out why the exit polls were so fscked, and there is zero chance of over-turning the election.

But if you think that things are going to become magically better the next election, you are very naive. The only chance we have of having a better election in 4 years is if we understand all the ways in which this one might have gone wrong. Currently, we are doing little as a nation to achieve that. Supposed skeptics like yourself are one of the (many) roadblocks to that goal: the exit polls are a serious mark on our democratic record, and we are not working very hard to figure out what went wrong.

You can not say that the exit polls are and imprecise tool, and that is why they were wrong. Period.
posted by teece at 11:57 PM on January 1, 2005


Top Men are on the case as we speak. . . .

My point is that we should stop looking back wistfully at what could have been in '04, which is what so many Democrats are doing when they see links like this one. It's over, we lost. George W Bush is going to be in the White House for another four years. Let's stop talking about moving out of the country and look forward instead.

These "Top Men" you speak of are why I want off this planet, let alone outta this country. But I understand there is nothing I can do. Ya hear that BushCo choir? There is nothing that I, a steaming pile of quaking liberal vomit can do! You've won. Except you haven't. You may have what you got. But you have not won.

Humanity has, just since I joined Metalfilter, been plunged into a slavery I had no idea existed and thrived just below the veneer of ordinary American life until now. Keep your golfclubs in your bag, I'm not saying a plot was hatched in some arch-conservative lair. But what I am saying is that the planet itself is an arch-conservative lair one can never hope to escape.

So yeah you won alright. Four more years and all that. But ultimately all have lost. The choices before us as a species are now much more limited. Those of you who "went for Bush", went against everything else that there is.

Kerry to me, as benighted as it may sound, represented the absence of conservobot homgeneity -- in that, that is what Kerry did not represent: ideological homogeneity -- more kinda' a cognizance of diversity. In an elected official, what one does not represent is perhaps much more freedom bestowing than one who represents too much. This is why Kerry sucked, but was beaten by far in that category by Bush. Not to get all Yoga instructor on your ass or anything, but this culture of ours is trash. We'd rather go with an asshole who stands for incipient cruelty rather than the one who spinelessly appealed to your college mind -- the mind of a more hopeful, less war-torn future.

Beyond a doubt, those who support Bush garner pleasure from doling out misery and pain to others. This is because they too are miserable -- only do not know it. This idiot Bush was marketed to that part of the ubiquitous "American psyche" that expects so much for nothing. These days it seems like liberalism is still everywhere only somehow gone awry. In fact, it so much resembles the liberty denuding platitudes of the common corporation, one must wonder already whether the term "citizen" is now destined for the asheap of lexicographical meaning -- such as the word "terror" for example. The first public foot forward by these vast enterprises corporate and public/private was to portray itself as liberal, humane and evolved. I would expect that we shall see some ideas/memes and products beginning to be marketed through unabashed cruelty quite soon -- if the state of culture many of us are heartbroken by now is any indication. (The book and movie Fight Club perhaps predicted this trend in the struggle to remain human)

Streamlined, compartmentalized, archived etc. have gone what I idealize it once was to be human. Now we're just lashing out, taking futile nicks out of the great motherboard which is about to plant a widespread squish. Raw "golden rule" morals is all that stands in its way now. The party of Jesus has sold out. Once again God, as it must tirelessly be proven every fifty or sixty years or so, is 110% behind whatever the state does. Until it generationally wears off and then must be done again.

I wish more people would get this. Ultimately this isn't a war or even a battle for that matter. It's just commonsense of the common good. You gotta transcend all the boring crap! Don't decorate your cubicle, bust the goddamned walls down and socialize. Show them you're not falling for it and let down your guard.
posted by crasspastor at 12:25 AM on January 2, 2005


Oh yeah. Take away the labels Republican and Democrat and I'll tell ya: All of us wuz robbed.

But since we're playing on opposing teams here, fuck you rightwing assholes!
posted by crasspastor at 12:31 AM on January 2, 2005


teece:

Re exit polls: I've done some more reading on analysis of the exit polling, and perhaps there's more to it than I realized. My assumption is that the exit polling itself was biased, but yes, I see there may be more to it. Okay. I do know a thing or two about polling and statistics, but I'm willing to accept that there are more than a few things I don't know. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

(Though, by the way, what I've read doesn't show the margin of error as 1.1%. No matter.)

Supposed skeptics like yourself are one of the (many) roadblocks to that goal: the exit polls are a serious mark on our democratic record, and we are not working very hard to figure out what went wrong.

Oh, I am a skeptic. For weeks after the election I sat around and stewed like all the rest of my Democrat pals, wondering how the hell everything went wrong.

What occurred to me was that even if there were fraud, there's nothing we can do about that election any longer. As I've already said, by all means, let's see that people who know what they're doing do actually figure out what happened. Bring out the statisticians, and bring out the investigative reporters. We and our election system deserve no less. (How does this make me a roadblock?)

But a lot of people I know, and doubtless some people on MeFi as well, have kept on stewing, wondering if we can impeach Bush for this or set up a new election. This is what I vehemently object to, and I'm surprised if I haven't been clear enough about it. (I can see how I wasn't in my first comment.) It isn't going to happen. It's time to chalk 2004 up in the loss column.

Instead of wringing my own hands over connections between Diebold and W in the 2004 election, I'm far more interested in investing my time in promoting someone who can put the '08 election so far out of reach that the GOP could try to rig it in all fifty states (exaggeration!) and the Democrat would still win the damn thing. (If s/he exists.) I'd appreciate if the common Dem would be willing to do the same, instead of wishing on some impeachment pipe dream.

I'm sorry if you think my time and effort should instead be focused on trying to piece together the facts and the rumors to formulate something concrete about what actually happened on Election Day. I don't think it should. I'm not the person to do that.

But if you think that things are going to become magically better the next election...

I don't expect magic, and I don't see how you thought I could. There are experts working hard at figuring out just what might have happened. Creating a better election is not magic, it's simply beyond my (and probably your) control. I can sign a petition or join a march to help it along, but for the most part, it really isn't up to me.

...you are very naive.

You can call me naive for hoping for and expecting improvements, but if you happen to be one of the many Democrats still clinging to John Kerry, I'd say you're just as naive.

Sigh. Them politics is a-wearin' me out.
posted by sellout at 2:48 AM on January 2, 2005


Divided and conquered. Congratulations. We need to figure out a way to make "us" represent rational thinkers of all political stripes and "them" represent the mindless idiots who toe the party line regardless of which party they prefer. Do you think we'd have a majority?

Justgary: the mainstream media has neither reported the body of evidence (see the link that started this thread) that the passionate lefties are trying to use to make sure the electoral vote represents the will of the people, nor has it reported the delay tactics their opponents are using to just get to January 6th before even acknowledging the lefties' concerns. Once the electoral votes are counted and the results of the election are official, nobody is worried about the facts coming out. Look at what happened in Florida last year. They know that most of us will figure there's nothing we can do about it, so we'll do nothing but hope that "the experts" will fix things by the time the next election rolls around. If they're right, we'll get exactly what we deserve. Again.
posted by Buzz at 8:42 AM on January 2, 2005


You can call me naive for hoping for and expecting improvements, but if you happen to be one of the many Democrats still clinging to John Kerry, I'd say you're just as naive.

Sellout, I don't put any stock in John Kerry. GWB will be president for the next four years, that seems beyond doubt (also, sorry if I descended into name calling a bit, this makes me frustrated).

My point is that I have come across several folks holding your opinion: that the exit polls showed nothing conclusive, let's get over it, move on, next election, etc.

I say that attitude is hamstringing any effort at understanding things now. The exit poll discrepancy simply can not be dismissed: it is very worrying. While we can hope that systemic bias led to an exit polls that seriously over-sampled Kerry, the reality is that the 2004 exit polls were some of the best funded and executed exit polls ever conducted. Bias seems like a pretty thin hope to hang your hat on there, but we sure as hell should be finding out.

And without understanding why every serious "error" on voting day helped Bush, without understanding why it is that so many of America's votes are now counted in secret by complete partisans, without understanding why the best tool we have (other than vote tallies) predicted a Kerry landslide, we will never have another fair election in this country again.

We can't just shrug, and move on. Everything that was in place in this election will be in place for the next. While you and I can't seem to do a whole lot about it, what we can do is build public support for criticism of the way this election was handled. That may not seem like much, but it is the first step to any reform action. Without it, nothing changes, as politicians are not going to even consider election reform if they don't sense a populous behind it.

My fear is that, by labeling folks that want to understand election 2004 as some brand of conspiracy theorist, and simply hand-waving away the very real indications of fraud, we are ensuring that there is almost 0% chance of a fair election com 2008.
posted by teece at 12:13 PM on January 2, 2005


#2 is what kills me. What possible reason could there be for no oversight?

Reread. There's no federal oversight. Which is entirely appropriate since elections are a state matter.

Not saying that the other reasons on the list aren't cause for serious concern, but #2 is not.

There's no federal agency charged with enforcing speed limits, either.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:45 PM on January 2, 2005


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