Media recount boosts Gore in Hillsborough County, FL
December 30, 2000 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Media recount boosts Gore in Hillsborough County, FL I wish they would have recounted the whole state. Including the "undervotes."
posted by Dean_Paxton (57 comments total)

 
This is just another waste of time and money. The election is over, and the ballot counting should be too.

"News executives say the purpose is to clear up lingering questions."

All it will do is create more controversy - not clear up questions.
posted by moural at 7:45 PM on December 30, 2000


you say that like it's a bad thing.

given that all 3 government branches at the highest level are in the hands of one party, gridlock seems to be an excellent idea.
posted by lescour at 8:32 PM on December 30, 2000


If the elected officials can't muster the will to count the votes, the press has an obligation to attempt the task.

In a press conference after Gore's concession, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris said this about Florida's system of counting votes for president: "if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent," borrowing a quote from Alexander Hamilton.

At the very least, these continuing efforts to count votes in Florida will disprove the moronic notion that the system in this state is "excellent."
posted by rcade at 9:03 PM on December 30, 2000


don't care.
posted by jbelshaw at 9:10 PM on December 30, 2000


Moural, I don't see your logic. If the information is out there and we ignore it for partisan (selfish) reasons, what does that say about us as a nation?

The results will always be contested by people with hidden agendas, but I'll trust the results that these media counts bring -- my understanding is that it's done by representatives from 5 or 6 organizations, with as much checking and double checking as is possible.

Sure the GOP will throw doubt on these media folks, saying they're biased and liberal, but I doubt people like you far more. Asserting that these recounts are a waste of time without offering any real reasoning for your thinking (although we can assume partisanship) is ridiculous.

I can't think of a single reason to not have such a hotly contested election be counted as carefully as possible. Well, I can think of one -- you're afraid that Bush and the whole GOP will look like they stole the election.
posted by jragon at 9:15 PM on December 30, 2000


"I can't think of a single reason........."

How about this one: IT'S OVER!!!!! OVER OVER FREAKIN OVER!!!!

It's.
Over.

They won the election. Past tense. Over. Bush won.

Over.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:34 PM on December 30, 2000


Given it's over, it might be interesting to find out who would have won if all the votes had been counted.
posted by Neb at 9:35 PM on December 30, 2000


Why do we need to spend time contesting results in an election that is over? Being from Hillsborough County, I can't see any reason why money needs to be spent on such practices.

"If the information is out there and we ignore it for partisan (selfish) reasons, what does that say about us as a nation?"

Hasn't the election itself already said enough about our nation? The media counting over and over again isn't going to suddenly create a good image for our nation. Are we so ignorant that we can't rally behind an elected official? Doing this sure makes us look that way. Also, isn't recounting a partisan reason as well? To any other nation it sure would look like it.

It's over. Period. Don't spend time reflecting on what could have been. Spend time looking at what can be.

posted by moural at 9:44 PM on December 30, 2000


Well, I dunno, the people in Florida might want to know just how badly their voting process is broken, so it can be fixed before the next election.
posted by kindall at 9:53 PM on December 30, 2000


I don't think there's any doubt left that the voting system is broken (in Florida and probably everywhere else in the USA). It doesn't really need these results to prove that a major travesty was committed.

So what is actually being done now to fix it? Not much, I'd guess.

posted by lagado at 10:09 PM on December 30, 2000


Yeah, but how much is it broken? I think this is an excellent opportunity to find out a truly representative margin of error on typical voting methodologies.
posted by kindall at 11:03 PM on December 30, 2000


given that all 3 government branches at the highest level are in the hands of one party, gridlock seems to be an excellent idea.

Funny how the people complaining now didn't mind having one party control all three branches during the many many years that party was the Democrats.

I can't think of a single reason to not have such a hotly contested election be counted as carefully as possible.

I can think of at least three right off the top of my head:

1) It isn't possible. Many of the remaining uncounted ballots in Florida are simply too vague, too screwed up, to determine with any degree of certainty what that invididual's intended vote was. To attempt to do so is an art at best, not a science, and the conscious and unconscious biases of the counters will come into play. (Note that in many other countries - Britain for one - all the overvotes/undervotes would have gone into a box called "spoilt ballots" and been detroyed almost immediately, precisely so that this sort of false "interpretation of voter intent" can not be attempted.)

2) It's already been proven that more than 537 fraudulent ballots were cast in Florida; that covers the spread. Because it's impossible to tell which individual ballots were cast by people ineligible to vote (or who voted more than once) it will be impossible to know "who really won."

3) There were at least two other states where the vote was as close as it was in Florida, and several others where it was a little wider but still close enough to be contestable, and it involved enough electoral votes to have mattered. Gore "won" those states, but the Bush campaign chose not to contest the results so that the mess wouldn't have ended up three times as large as it already was (and, admittedly, to also make him appear above the fray). In order to truly know who got the most votes, we'd need 100% recounts in those states as well. A Florida recount is not enough.

Oh, wait, make it four.

4) The article doesn't state it explicitly, but strongly hints, that the paper is examining all the dimples and pinpricks and deciding for themselves whether they're "legitimate" or not. Thus the "results" will be completely unreliable. It's going to be interesting when all the various media "recounts" are done in a few weeks and they all have different numbers.

Oh, one more for good measure, why not.

5) The posts here so far show that most people aren't interested in actually finding out the truth, they just want to be able to say "our side won" as convincingly as possible. Those who read the article will discover that the paper has made this "announcement" even though they've only assigned to Bush or Gore 1,878 of the 5,533 rejected ballots. So at this stage the entire article is meaningless.

Also, by the way, the reason the state has those "arbitrary" deadlines for final certification in the first place is so that someone is eventually declared the victor and the fighting doesn't go on forever. When a race turns out to be that close, someone has to get picked over someone else, even though each recount would have enough of an error factor to conceivably throw the result to a different candidate. Thus the deadline. Practically every other election in American history has been played by these sorts of rules, so the "fairness" of the ultra-never-ending-recount-from-Hell in only this one case is questionable at best. Lord only knows how many politlcal races in the past may have ended differently if only all the rejected ballots had been pulled out and had their "intent determined."
posted by aaron at 11:24 PM on December 30, 2000



It never ceases to amaze me how complacently—nay, eagerly—some people will accept a lie. I don't know how such hypocrites can stand to be themselves, I really don't.

"It's OVER. We've ACCEPTED the lie. We've allowed it to be foisted upon us. So shut up, let it go away, don't remind us anymore...."

It's all about a little thing called THE TRUTH, people. Look it up.
posted by rushmc at 11:38 PM on December 30, 2000


Actually, aaron, the various papers paying for this recount are not "deciding for htemselves" on any of the ballots. What they are doing is COUNTING how EACH ballot was spoiled, and categorizing them, so that we the people can get an idea of what kinds of problems there actually are that need fixing. (Answer: a lot.)

When they say "X more ballots for Smoot", they are saying "X ballots were double-hangers, and if you count double-hangers like Kentucky does, that would mean X votes for Smoot".
posted by dhartung at 11:43 PM on December 30, 2000


Jragon: "you're afraid that Bush and the whole GOP will look like they stole the election."
y6y6y6: "They won the election. Past tense. Over. Bush won."


Bush didn't win it. The GOP swindled it. It already looks like they stole it, what are you talking about? It looked like they tried to steal it the day after the election and it still looks that way. The conservative republicans played the game of politics so well they rigged the whole thing. Florida was known to be a lynchpin state before the election officially began. Jeb runs that state. This was not a fair election. Everybody knows it. They made us all look like suckers. Controversy? Y'all're a little worried about controversy and think going back now and recounting is just gonna stir up controversy? It's a little late for that. Conservative republicans took advantage of the lazy incompetence of the American people, and those in Florida especially. We're all paying the price, and will continue to do so in the years ahead.

If you say you don't care, it means one of two things:

1. You buy the lie that conservatives in control will help you. OR
2. you buy the lie that none of this matters to you personally and you really shouldn't care.

This DOES affect you on a personal level, and unless you already make eight or more digits a year, it's not going to affect you in a way you're going to like. Because the actions derived from conservative thought affect so many, it affects us all by proxy.

"What is true of every member of the society, individually, is true of them all collectively; since the rights of the whole can be no more than the sum of the rights of the individuals." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789.

So when the public school system is castrated and forced into the overtly judeo-christian private sector, it will affect me even though I don't have children. A health plan that helps insurance companies and pharmaceutical factories but not patients and doctors will affect me even if I never need a doctor, because it will affect people around me. The liberals have been hitting conservatives where it hurts: their pocketbook. They could no longer tolerate it and pulled all the stops to get a puppet in there for their benefit.

And we let it happen. The moderates of the republican party are conservatives in sheep's clothing. If more people had gotten off their asses that day to vote, things might have been different. We still had less than half of the overall population of registered voters in the polling booths this round. That's pathetic. We don't deserve a democracy OR a republic if this is the best we can do. All those people who have died in the last 200 years for this country have done so in vain. We now effectively have an aristocracy in this country. All the rest of it is a smokescreen for the truth: the rich run the show. They don't want you to think about that, because they know if you really thought about it, if we ALL really thought about it, we'd revolt.

George W. Bush Jr is not my president. I will refer to him as Country Governor when I must, but we have no President of the United States for the next four years as far as I'm concerned. Our constitution? It's now not even good to line a birdcage with. Gore's chances were over the day they started the impeachment process for Clinton, and it should amaze everyone that Gore did as well as he did considering the blatant fullscale political assault the conservatives have performed on liberal politicians. Bipartisan? This is not democrat vs republican. That's yet another smokescreen: a red herring.

This is about conservative thinking vs liberal thinking, and it's being fought with dollars and donation. It's the ultimate race of who's the most amoral? Who can cause the most carnage politically and still look at themselves in the mirror every morning?

You say the election is over? I say it's game over. The next step is to reinstate indentured servitude.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:47 PM on December 30, 2000


"Conservative republicans took advantage of the lazy incompetence of the American people..."

And who's fault is it that American's are lazy and incompetent?
posted by moural at 11:52 PM on December 30, 2000


What they are doing is COUNTING how EACH ballot was spoiled, and categorizing them...

That's not what the Tampa Tribune is doing, at least not in the quoted article. They state flat out that Bush got 879 of the bad ballots and Gore got 999, with no breakdown of dimples, chads, or anything. And they strongly imply that they made the count themselves, even if other media organizations got to see the ballots at the same time they did.

Props to ZachsMind for one of the more hysterical rants (in both senses of the word) I've seen about this entire election.
posted by aaron at 12:36 AM on December 31, 2000



And once again the blatantly obvious is dismissed as hysteria by the apathetic hordes. Thank you for proving my point. I don't even know why I bother.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:47 AM on December 31, 2000


Zach: thanks from this pinko commie socialist liberal.
posted by holgate at 5:13 AM on December 31, 2000


Oh, and two pieces from the Guardian yesterday:

We may, with the Guardian's encouragement, be starting down the road to republicanism in this country, but Dubya will turn out to be America's first monarch since King George III. He is not only the heir to a rather unattractive dynasty, like his Hanoverian predecessor, but he seems to have all the right instincts for a constitutional monarch. His court will be peopled by family retainers, and Dick Cheney will serve as his prime minister and run the government. Meanwhile, he will perform the ceremonial functions of the head of state.
posted by holgate at 5:23 AM on December 31, 2000


Disclaimer: I voted for Gore. I'm very unhappy about Bush being president. I think the next four years will be a train wreck because of it.

Bush didn't win it. The GOP swindled it.

Oh bullshit. We have a process. All sides entered into that process. Bush won. There was an election. Bush won. Putting a semantic spin on it won't change that.

Our election process does not include a segment where we stand around and debate whether the election was fair. The election is over. Bush won.

This was not a fair election. Everybody knows it.

I call this ranting. Is this suppose to sound reasonable? If this election wasn't fair then none ever was. The same type of things that happened here having been happening all along.

Conservative republicans took advantage of the lazy incompetence of the American people

More ranting. Does this debate tactic usually work for you?

If you say you don't care, it means one of two things:

Hmmmm..... Those are my only two choices? The reason I don't care about the recount is that the election is over. I don't feel like the country will be helped by giving Democrats an excuse to tell the president to fuck off every time he walks by. How is that a good thing?

This DOES affect you on a personal level

No more than having Gore elected. Yes, the government effects us on a personal level. But that's always the case. Duh.

Because the actions derived from conservative thought affect so many, it affects us all by proxy.

So...... liberal thought doesn't do this? Please! What the hell are you talking about?

Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789.

I thought Jefferson supported the idea of an electoral college? Which sort of nullifies the above quote in the context of a presidential election.

So when the public school system is castrated and forced into the overtly judeo-christian private sector
.....
They could no longer tolerate it and pulled all the stops to get a puppet in there for their benefit.


Dude..... Take a deep breath or something. Yer losin' it. Take a walk. Get some fresh air.

We don't deserve a democracy OR a republic if this is the best we can do.

Fuck you.

All those people who have died in the last 200 years for this country have done so in vain.

Double fuck you.

Our constitution? It's now not even good to line a birdcage with.
......
The next step is to reinstate indentured servitude.


Oh.... Ha Ha. Hey, you had me going there for a while. I thought you were serious. Whoa.... you sucked me right in there. Good one. Making fun of the whole thread by pretending to be totally irrational. Man, you had me going there.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:30 AM on December 31, 2000


I continue to be struck by the outstanding naivete of people who seem to believe that choosing a President in the USA is a matter of assigning each person one vote and counting all of the votes.
posted by ffmike at 8:41 AM on December 31, 2000


No, FFMike, but that's how the electors who vote for the President are supposed to be chosen in Florida.
posted by redfoxtail at 9:33 AM on December 31, 2000


There are also naive people who don't remember the early days of Factsheet Five. Welcome to metafilter, ffmike!
posted by gluechunk at 10:37 AM on December 31, 2000


Our election process does not include a segment where we stand around and debate whether the election was fair. The election is over. Bush won.

That is totally inane. An election is a PROCESS, and if that process is subverted or circumvented, one cannot justify the results by using the magic word "election" to validate them. If the process is not followed as intended, it does not constitute an "election" in any legal or moral sense.

Where do you draw the line, I wonder? How much fraud and/or error will you tolerate before you quit hiding behind the rubric of "election" and state that something went horribly wrong and the process should be examined and the result, if appropriate, questioned and perhaps negated? If Bush paid every voter in the country $10 to vote for him, would his win still be valid to you? What if he held a gun to every voter's head in the booth? Is ANYTHING okay, so long as a candidate is declared the victor of the election so you can quit being annoyed be the continuing press coverage of the situation and can return to your life, with no more demands upon your civic responsibilities??

As I said before, truth is truth, and those who hide from it, out of cowardice, laziness, partisanship, or for any other reason, are utterly contemptible.
posted by rushmc at 11:00 AM on December 31, 2000


"Don't spend time reflecting on what could have been."

We're not reflecting on what could have been -- we're reflecting on what is, which is part of a healthy national dialogue for perhaps preventing this from happening again. We find ourselves in an interesting position, and avoiding the truth (based on the most scientific methods possible) is foolish.

The Supreme Court essentially said "yeah, a recount is obviously warrented, but crap -- we're out of time". I think it's perfectly reasonable to get the information to the people in the most accurate form possible (such as defining exactly how many were pregnant, how many were hanging, etc etc) so that people can make up their own minds.

If it came out that Gore won by 11 votes, but 100 pinpricks were counted for Gore, that would allow people to come to one conclusion (each person's conclusion would be different based on how they handle that information). On the other hand, if they say Gore won by 1400 votes, and pinprick ballots weren't counted, people could come to a completely different conclusion.

Hiding your head in the sand is your right, but don't try to pull me down with you.


posted by jragon at 11:52 AM on December 31, 2000


'How much fraud and/or error will...?'
How about none. As I recall. there was no fraud, none at all, no machine faults, nothing. It's either the liberal side didn't want to embarrass Bush, by concealing the evidence of fraud, that, or they haven't found anything. You can see where I'm siding on this. Btw, you're not gaining any credibility points here, as Mr. Bill 'He's god' O'Reilly says 'stop with the spin'. This reminds me of a Dennis Miller joke - 'On the plane, the pilot was picketed by pro-life people, he aborted a take off - who knows exactly where flight begins?' So, who knows exactly when or where the election ends or begins? I'm going to go out and vote now, they didn't give me these cigarettes for nothing. Fight big-tobacco! *FIGHT*
posted by tiaka at 12:12 PM on December 31, 2000


" How much fraud and/or error will you tolerate before you...."

How about as much as the law allows. Our election process is a mess. The election was bought. But unfortunately the law allows for that. So why don't people stop whining about who won and start working at changing the process?

And please try to rein in the frothing-at-the-mouth, the-sky-is-falling, rant fest. If you want to change the process try starting with some constructive ideas.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:16 PM on December 31, 2000


Properly done, an after-the-fact recount might help us to understand what did or didn't go wrong with the voting process, and what changes we might want to make in the future. Nothing in the present is likely to be changed; the outcome of the election won't be, and anyone who wants to believe the election was fraudulent, already does. I realize that some people want an end to the era of political argument; too bad. Dubya might want to have a few words with the people who told him things were going to be smooth sailing once he got into office, and reconsider how much to listen to them in the future.
posted by harmful at 1:59 PM on December 31, 2000


On the method of counting -- an article from the Miami Herald describes it this way:

... [An accounting agency's] representatives will note the characteristics of each ballot in the following manner: dimple, pinprick, one corner detached, two corners detached, three corners detached, punched cleanly and no mark. They will note by candidate number which of the characteristics applies.
posted by leo at 4:12 PM on December 31, 2000


"Properly done, an after-the-fact recount might help us to understand what did or didn't go wrong with the voting process..."

Don't we already know what went wrong? The voters are what went wrong. The voters are those creating these situations of fraud. The voters are who can't punch a hole properly. They caused the problem.

Now how do we fix it? Not by recounting again, but by educating in the future.
posted by moural at 4:16 PM on December 31, 2000


Now how do we fix it? Not by recounting again, but by educating in the future.

Moural, I don't really see why people of a Republican persuasion are against the recount. I mean, consider how bad it looks: everyone's going to say the Republicans are trying to cover something up.

Since the thing is not only legal but inevitable, I'd say the Republicans ought to sit tight till the post-count phase when they'll have ample opportunity to bemoan the credibility of the counters and the deteriorating state of the ballots.
posted by leo at 4:36 PM on December 31, 2000


It may comfort you to know that I'm not a republican, nor did I vote for Bush. I just want to move on and have a go at it in another 4 years. Do you not see the money that is being wasted out of your pocket and mine? Do you not care? I sure do.

"everyone's going to say the Republicans are trying to cover something up."

And aren't those people already of another party affiliation? This will just keep their vote where it should be.
posted by moural at 5:00 PM on December 31, 2000


Well, you do notice that I said "of a Republican persuasion" not meaning you in particular, though if that's how you took it, sorry.

As far as the money is concerned, it looks as if the newspapers and other organizations are putting the cash up themselves. There's no way to keep them from doing that. The state itself (as keeper of public records) has no choice since its involvement is mandated by law. If money were really an issue -- which I don't think it is -- I'd be willing to contribute a dollar or two to help count the uncounted in the Sunshine State.

In any case, I think the country can move on as you say and we can still count the things. It's not mutually excusive by any means.
posted by leo at 5:35 PM on December 31, 2000


The voters are what went wrong. The voters are those creating these situations of fraud. The voters are who can't punch a hole properly. They caused the problem.

The users are what went wrong. The users are those who can't understand a simple text interface. The users are those who can't put together a basic grep command. They caused Windows.
posted by kindall at 6:15 PM on December 31, 2000


So if the voter didn't punch a hole properly due to chad buildup, are you blaming the voter, the precinct worker, or the company that designed the machine?
posted by gluechunk at 7:43 PM on December 31, 2000


Do you not see the money that is being wasted out of your pocket and mine? Do you not care? I sure do.

Maybe you wouldn't be so quick to dismiss these recount stories if you actually read them, Moural. The recounts are being funded privately by the organizations conducting them. They are paying for the counters *and* the election officials who have to hold up the ballot for the counters.

Are we so ignorant that we can't rally behind an elected official?

If a president wants people to rally behind him, he should allow an election to take place instead of relying on partisans to appoint him to the position.

Double fuck you.

Should you really be lecturing people about "debating tactics," y6y6y6? I'm pretty sure this one is a definite point deduction.
posted by rcade at 8:30 PM on December 31, 2000


Now how do we fix it? Not by recounting again, but by educating in the future.

How do you educate a 30-year-old machine not to get clogged up with chad fragments so badly that holes can't be punched in it?
posted by rcade at 8:35 PM on December 31, 2000


I wasn't referring to this article while commenting about the money being wasted. I'm sorry, I didn't specify.

Are these people not realizing that holes aren't being punched? I believe it's their fault for not telling anyone about the problem, not the machines' fault.

I'm not sure how many of you have used these machines, but if you have, you might see that is is pretty straightforward and easy to use.
posted by moural at 8:53 PM on December 31, 2000


I wasn't referring to this article while commenting about the money being wasted. I'm sorry, I didn't specify.

You said that the money for these counts was coming out of your pocket and mine. That's simply not the case, and if the press wants to spend its own money serving as a watchdog over the operation of the government, I think that's a valid public service.

Are these people not realizing that holes aren't being punched? I believe it's their fault for not telling anyone about the problem, not the machines' fault.

In many cases, voters had no opportunity to find out that their punch card ballot was invalid, because it was not fed into a machine until it was brought back to the county's election supervisor's office. Compare that to the situation here in solidly Republican St. Johns County, Florida, where my optical ballot was fed into a machine the second I handed it to an official at the polling place.

I'm not sure how many of you have used these machines, but if you have, you might see that is is pretty straightforward and easy to use.

The average American can't program a VCR or change the default home page on their Web browser. Yet many counties and parishes in the U.S. expect people to be skilled at using 1960s-era punch cards to communicate their vote to a machine. The real idiocy on display here is from the people who administer votes, not the people who cast them.
posted by rcade at 9:07 PM on December 31, 2000


How do you inspire people to take their vote seriously enough that they take five freaking seconds to make sure that their damn chad actually did punch out? It doesn't strike me as so difficult, but apparently it was beyond what thousands of people could manage. . . it is a sad reflection on how much the vote really meant to these people. It is the single most important thing that you can do as a member of society, and they don't double check to see that it's done as correctly and neatly as possible? And we're supposed to worry about what the intent of these people was supposed to be, or be angry when the wheels of justice crush their apathetic unvotes like the garbage that they are? Nope, sorry, nice pitch but I'm not buying.
posted by Dreama at 9:17 PM on December 31, 2000


The average American can't program a VCR or change the default home page on their Web browser. Yet many counties and parishes in the U.S. expect people to be skilled at using 1960s-era punch cards to communicate their vote to a machine.

This is a joke, right? People don't take the time to understand electronic/computer technology, and this translates to being equally unable to understand how to poke a pointy piece of metal into a pre-perforated piece of lightweight cardstock?

How on earth do you make such an equivocation?
posted by Dreama at 9:29 PM on December 31, 2000


I care about my vote (and, unlike some of us, I care about yours, too). I can program a VCR. My vote really meant a lot to me.

And yet, I did not double-check to make sure my stylus worked. Never in a million years would I have thought I'd had to.

Does this make me apathetic? Dumb? Lazy? Unworthy to have my vote counted? Garbage?

Yes, rcade is absolutely right: Someone technologically illiterate or alliterate would be less likely to accurately use a ballot. Why is that so outlandish? And yet you say that understanding technology is simply a matter of "taking time"? Have you never spent time with people over 60? Did your grandparents die when you were young? My grandmother is a very smart woman, but her using anything more advanced than a telephone is unimaginable.

Have you no empathetic bones in your body at all?

posted by luke at 9:58 PM on December 31, 2000


"The average American can't program a VCR or change the default home page on their Web browser. Yet many counties and parishes in the U.S. expect people to be skilled at using 1960s-era punch cards to communicate their vote to a machine."

Sorry, but the idiocy on display is the people who can't read directions, don't care about directions, or don't want to ask for help. Of course, we could always spend millions of dollars and fix this because Americans are sue-happy and lazy, but we would still find some way to complain.
posted by moural at 10:04 PM on December 31, 2000


Say, Moural, care to tell us why oural.org isn't registered?

My troll meter is leaning to the right.
posted by luke at 10:11 PM on December 31, 2000


Because I haven't registered it yet? Not sure how that even pertains to the topic, but there's your answer. :)
posted by moural at 10:39 PM on December 31, 2000


This is a joke, right? People don't take the time to understand electronic/computer technology, and this translates to being equally unable to understand how to poke a pointy piece of metal into a pre-perforated piece of lightweight cardstock? How on earth do you make such an equivocation?

A punch card ballot *is* computer technology, Dreama. It's an archaic computer input device.

The only place today where punch cards are in wide use today is the ballot box, and there's a reason for it -- the cards are a pointlessly confusing and error prone way for humans to communicate with machines.

I know this is an unpopular concept with some people, but we live in a country where stupidity is not a disqualification for voting. Here in Florida and my home state of Texas, there was a long and shameful history of using literacy tests to disqualify blacks from voting.

Punch card ballots are serving as a computer literacy test in the voting booth today, and as anyone here should realize, only a tiny minority in this country can master basic computer skills. The manufacturer of the most popular punch card voting system says that in order for the device to work properly, voters must sweep the backside of their ballot after voting to dislodge hanging chad.

Does that sound like a reliable and user-friendly system for voting in 21st century?
posted by rcade at 10:42 PM on December 31, 2000


Because I haven't registered it yet?

You know, posting to a Web page using an invalid e-mail address is exactly the kind of thing I would expect from the lazy, incompetent, idiotic voters you want to disenfranchise in our country.
posted by rcade at 10:56 PM on December 31, 2000


Not sure how that even pertains to the topic, but there's your answer.

It pertains because MeFi has had problems with trolls lately. You fall under the cloud of suspicion because a) you have a fake URL and b) you joined only three days ago. We also eschew anonymity here. I'm curious who you are. If you're a 12-year-old in France, I'm not going to waste much more time debating American democracy with you.

But I'll address one of your comments anyhow.

Sorry, but the idiocy on display is the people who can't read directions, don't care about directions, or don't want to ask for help.

Your ballot's directions must have been different than mine. Mine didn't say, "These machines are known to be unreliable, so double-check to make sure your chad is entirely punched." But yours did? Lucky you.

In addition, there were many people, especially in Palm Beach County, who asked for help or a replacement ballot and were either told "tough" or told they could have only one ballot. What should these people have done? How many barriers to their vote should there be?

Of course, we could always spend millions of dollars and fix this because Americans are sue-happy and lazy.

Of course, we could always spend millions of dollars and fix this because Americans believe every vote should count, even if the person who cast it is dumb, uncoordinated or lazy. This is the way we would expect it in any other country. This is the way we should expect it in our own. Suffrage for the dumb, uncoordinated, lazy and other "garbage" is as important as suffrage for women and for blacks.

And with this, I'm going to go clock out of work, have a cigar, and enjoy the new year.
posted by luke at 10:58 PM on December 31, 2000


This is one of the rare examples that I've seen where "post event mass amnesia" has not set in. Despite that, most of the country has already forgotten there was an election. Most of Florida is stung, but the ones who's man won are happy, the ones who's man didn't win are not....

Only a couple of you saw this for what it was. The media questioning a questionable thing. They initiated it, they funded it, they paid the sacred election cows to allow them to examine the votes.

Aside from the various partisan bickerings and a couple of "fuck you's" (which really demonstrates how passionate people still are on this). Most of you agree that there was something rotten in this process and it shouldn't be allowed to slip away into obscurity.

Unfortunately, besides discussions here and at dinner tables and water coolers, what else can be done?
posted by Dean_Paxton at 8:53 AM on January 1, 2001


Punch card ballots are serving as a computer literacy test in the voting booth today, and as anyone here should realize, only a tiny minority in this country can master basic computer skills. The manufacturer of the most popular punch card voting system says that in order for the device to work properly, voters must sweep the backside of their ballot after voting to dislodge hanging chad.

Not only do I disagree with you that this physical skill is equivalent to computer literacy, I also don't see checking or even sweeping the back of the ballot as so outrageous. You're punching out holes, you don't double check to see that the holes are punched through, and that nothing is still hanging on the back of the card, just for sake of neatness if nothing else? It would take what, an additional five seconds? If you don't, whose fault is it if there are unintended consequences, like your vote not being valid, and therefore uncounted?

This should be basic thinking -- I vote by punching out the hole, I should be sure that I punched the hole out totally. Little hanging things on the back of the ballot are messy, plus they could get flipped back into the hole, so I should check to see that there are none. This is the difference between doing things half-assedly and doing them correctly. If we are half-assed about voting, what remedy should there be to us? Aren't the barriers there self-imposed? Who has the responsibility to ensure that voters are doing what they are supposed to do?

Yes, let's bring all voting methodology as up to date as is possible. Let's bring everything to its easiest and lowest common denominator so that the careless aren't excluded. (Ignoring that there is no method that will work for everyone.) But let us not forget in our rush to blame the method that voters have reponsibility, be they lazy, stupid, illiterate, rushed, or anything else, and we cannot absolve them of it because the stylus through perforation method proved to be the undoing of a well-resolved election.
posted by Dreama at 5:39 PM on January 1, 2001


One of the things about the punch-card ballots some of us are forgetting is that in some systems, the ballots aren't very readable once they're removed from the machine where you punch them. In other words, after you punch your choices it's hard to say whether all the holes are where you thought you put them without some kind of a cheat sheet (e.g. "Gore is #10"). If you cast votes in some races and not in others, as many do, it might also be difficult to figure out which punches were missed, or if any in fact were.

It's just a bad UI, is all.
posted by kindall at 6:32 PM on January 1, 2001


In New York, some Chinese-language ballots for president were mistranslated, according to this New York Times story.

A question for Dreama: U.S. law does not require English literacy as a prerequisite to voting. Why should it require computer literacy?

If our election officials are willing to translate ballots and instructions for Chinese speakers, why are the computer illiterate -- a far larger group -- left out to dry? You may think it's perfectly normal behavior to massage a punch card ballot after voting "for neatness sake," but I'd venture a guess that the majority of Americans have no idea what to do with the thing after voting to make it more machine-friendly. You can't even look at the thing and associate a specific hole with a specific candidate after it is removed.
posted by rcade at 6:52 PM on January 1, 2001


y6: It's Over

I'm amazed this got by everyone.

The fuck it's over.

It's not over until the ballots get unsealed on the Senate floor; when's that, the 6th? What votes each elector *said in public* that they cast, and *what is actually on the ballot* can and may be two different things... and ain't W gonna have to pick his jaw up off the ground if it goes that way... :-)
posted by baylink at 4:02 PM on January 2, 2001


You can't even look at the thing and associate a specific hole with a specific candidate after it is removed.

Everyone "counting" them by hand has. (Thus providing one more reason why such recounts cannot be truly accurate.)

What votes each elector *said in public* that they cast, and *what is actually on the ballot* can and may be two different things...

The ballots were counted and certified by each state before being transmitted to Washington. You may view JPEGs of the electoral college certifications of each state on this page from the National Archives. It is over. There will be no surprises.
posted by aaron at 11:22 PM on January 2, 2001



Everyone "counting" them by hand has. (Thus providing one more reason why such recounts cannot be truly accurate.)

The voter counters presumably have experience dealing with punch cards, have been trained on their use, and have supervisors on hand to help clear up any confusion they may have about them. That's a little different than the situation faced by voters.

As for accuracy, the machine counts are laughably unreliable. You would agree with me if they had erred a couple hundred votes in the other direction on Nov. 7.
posted by rcade at 12:02 AM on January 3, 2001


I agree with you now, on that point. Like I said way above, we're not going to get a 100% accurate count of Florida, period. And there were plenty of reports of "mistakes" during the recounts, such as supervisors "accidentally" putting Bush-punched cards on top of the Gore stack even after everyone agreed they were Bush votes. Where it may well never again have been noticed since the cards themselves are just numbers and holes.
posted by aaron at 12:35 AM on January 3, 2001


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