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You be the [election] judge
November 28, 2008 6:53 PM   Subscribe

You be the [election] judge. View and vote on six hundred challenged Minnesota ballots. Each is accompanied by a link to a PDF of the full ballot with the name of the challenging candidate and the reason for the challenge. (registration required) via fivethirtyeight.com
posted by Saucy Intruder (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Well, at least I have something to entertain me now that all the Metafilter backtagging is done.

Having gone through about twenty five of these, the challenge on many of these ballots is completely ridiculous, on both sides. I have marked five as 'unknown' for whatever reason; voter intent on the rest was completely obvious. We're talking about the voter going a millimeter outside of the oval or something similar.
posted by sugarfish at 7:11 PM on November 28, 2008


The extra exposure means we'll see a groundswell of Lizard People support for 2012.
posted by rokusan at 7:21 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've done three of them and I'm already glad I'm not on the Canvassing Board.
posted by baphomet at 7:29 PM on November 28, 2008


Democracy is tedious.
posted by peeedro at 7:40 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's an interesting paper about the problem of guessing voter intent just waiting to be written, here...
posted by voltairemodern at 9:01 PM on November 28, 2008


After doing 50 of them I think Franken is definitely going to lose. His people are obviously excluding just as many obvious ballots to inflate the total as Coleman's people are.
posted by Bonzai at 9:51 PM on November 28, 2008


One could decide this in under a day. Just use these ballots as CAPTCHAs when people sign up for any heavily trafficked site. It wouldn't matter for registration what the answer is (you would give them a second CAPTCHA as well) but one would quickly get relatively unbiased "votes" on which bubble had been filled in.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:55 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's fascinating. I figured they'd eventually get online.

After doing 50 of them I think Franken is definitely going to lose. His people are obviously excluding just as many obvious ballots to inflate the total as Coleman's people are.

Why would that mean he would lose? The ballots only need to favor Franken by like 55% to put him over the top. There's no way you could measure the difference that precisely by only sampling 50.
posted by delmoi at 10:20 PM on November 28, 2008


Having gone through about twenty five of these, the challenge on many of these ballots is completely ridiculous, on both sides. I have marked five as 'unknown' for whatever reason; voter intent on the rest was completely obvious. We're talking about the voter going a millimeter outside of the oval or something similar.

It's pretty ridiculous, but as Nate Silver has pointed out, there is every incentive to challenge every ballot and no incentive not to challenge. The number of challenges has gone up exponentially as each day of the recount progresses.
posted by delmoi at 10:24 PM on November 28, 2008


What a disaster.

A lot of really dumb shit, like "he filled in two ovals but it's clear his intent was for xxx".

A decisive percentage of them would require some knowledge of the law I don't have (and probably nobody actually does). What makes an "identifying mark"? When someone's vote is clear but they make dumb scribbles all over the place, or sign it and scribble that out, or write in that one of the judges is a 'pediphile'...WTF do you do with that?

This is a sad way to decide a election.

Oh and I can't support anything Republican these days but Franken is truly a jackass. Let's just not seat anyone from this district for the next six years.
posted by Bokononist at 10:53 PM on November 28, 2008


"This district" is the state of Minnesota, and the outcome of this election and the runoff in GA will decide whether the democrats have a 60 vote supermajority. So I think many people have a stake in this being decided.

My cousin is an aide to the legal team for one of the candidates. Her job is to answer the phone if there is any problem and try to solve it, or if that fails, call in the lawyers. She said they have "Lizard People" signs all over the office.

She also said that all of the challenged ballots are photocopied at the end of each day at the recount sites and that various people have the job of driving the photocopies overnight to the campaign headquarters so the campaign can keep an internal count. This is an incredibly complex and, yes, tedious process, and no one knows how it will turn out.
posted by mai at 11:15 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


but Franken is truly a jackass

he was speaking at a local bookstore in Santa Cruz in mid-2003 and I found his worldview and gravitas to be anything but jackassish. Those were deadly times and he was a rather scarce voice of reason and judgment back then.

I can't support anything Republican these days

heh. Better late than never spose.
posted by troy at 11:25 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


This needs a trial by jury. Obscure the names and have people vote on the vote: do they think the voter meant candidate A or candidate B?
posted by pracowity at 2:28 AM on November 29, 2008


Your favorite candidate for the Senate sucks.
posted by crashlanding at 7:56 AM on November 29, 2008


I looked through a few of these a couple days ago. It's totally depressing that people filling out these ballots do not understand the importance of completing them correctly, and that they can spoil a ballot so easily.

Getting a spoiled ballot replaced is simple, and I saw it happen in '06. The poll workers gladly replaced the ballot that a voter had incorrectly marked. How can we make it clear to people that scribbles, arrows, and little notes are not interpreted by a computer scanner?
posted by glycolized at 8:17 AM on November 29, 2008


It's totally depressing that people filling out these ballots do not understand the importance of completing them correctly, and that they can spoil a ballot so easily.

I find it more totally depressing that we don't care about our democracy enough to actually educate people thoroughly on how to engage in it so that when they get to the polls, if they are a first time voter or perhaps a new citizen or perhaps haven't completed as much education as others, etc etc they are not faced with something they've never seen before and are thus prone to errors through no fault of their own. Maybe if we spent some money in high schools, etc or had better documentation at the polls, we could avoid some of this. Making voting easier though doesn't seem to be in the interest of either party.
posted by spicynuts at 8:25 AM on November 29, 2008


Making voting easier though doesn't seem to be in the interest of either party.

It is absolutely in the interest of the Democratic Party to make voting easier, as we saw in this very election. When more people vote, the large overall size of the Democratic Party shines. If it were in the interest of the Democratic Party to keep people from voting, we would certainly have seen Democrats paralleling the Republican efforts to suppress certain voter demographics. It's just not worth the effort for the Democratic Party to spend resources that way.

I don't think that most of the contested ballots are actually from first-time voters, incidentally, though I don't really have a good reason for thinking so. Reading through them, I was imagining the haphazard scribbling of the very elderly, or perhaps the differently abled. I tend to think (perhaps wishfully) that first-time voters are even more serious about their charge than those of us who have been through it a few times.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:15 AM on November 29, 2008


Why would that mean he would lose? The ballots only need to favor Franken by like 55% to put him over the top. There's no way you could measure the difference that precisely by only sampling 50.

My small sample told me that the Franken camp is using the same dubious criteria to challenge ballots as the Coleman camp. They are challenging ballots at almost an equal rate. This tells me that the challenged ballots are going to break at the same ratio as the rest of the vote. Right down the middle.

With 88% of the ballots recounted the challenges are Coleman: 2885 Franken: 2738, a difference of 147 (assuming equal challenge wins), add another 12% for the remaining votes and you get 165 more votes for Franken.

Coleman has a 282 vote lead. This means that Franken needs to pick up another 117 votes from the remaining 12% of the uncounted ballots. I can't see how this could happen.

But I could be wrong, maybe the Franken team didn't start the bullshit challenges until day 2 or day 3 which means he's going to win more challenges which will mean it's closer. I guess we'll see.
posted by Bonzai at 9:16 AM on November 29, 2008


I looked through a few of these a couple days ago. It's totally depressing that people filling out these ballots do not understand the importance of completing them correctly, and that they can spoil a ballot so easily.

What? We're talking about like 5k votes challenged out of 2.4 million. And of those only a few hundred are actually problematic. I mean, if millions of people do things correctly, and only a few hundred screw it up, how can that possibly be considered a failure!?
posted by delmoi at 1:39 PM on November 29, 2008


When someone's vote is clear but they make dumb scribbles all over the place, or sign it and scribble that out, or write in that one of the judges is a 'pediphile'...WTF do you do with that?

Aha. That explains why Canadian ballots are black, with white text for the names and a white circle. Must really reduce the incentive to scribble, 'cause black pencil on black paper = nigh useless.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:59 PM on November 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is a hell of a process, that's for sure. I don't think the online test is useful: I've seen at least a couple of ballots that look completely clear, only to find out that the voter has written their name somewhere not visible on the mini preview.
posted by Chuckles at 4:33 PM on November 29, 2008


I mean, if millions of people do things correctly, and only a few hundred screw it up, how can that possibly be considered a failure!?

I didn't imply that anything about this is a failure. My disappointment is that everyone hasn't been informed that replacing a ballot is so simple. Most of those should have just been spoiled and replaced (like the ones where they set the tip if the felt-tip pen on the paper, not meaning to mark it).
posted by glycolized at 1:10 PM on November 30, 2008


I'm curious as to why they aren't counting the huge pile of rejected absentee ballots. Why do the ballots that were filed on election day somehow warrant a full inspection, but rejected absentees remain rejected?
posted by graventy at 6:52 AM on December 1, 2008


Because if the absentees were counted, the Republican party would be left a smoldering crater in the political landscape. Everything I read indicated the absentee ballots were heavily in the Dem's favour.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:25 PM on December 1, 2008


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