A software tool for the new overlords...
December 3, 2003 7:14 PM   Subscribe

The Diebold scandal might have reminded us all of Stalin's famous quote, "who votes doesn't count, it's who gets to count the votes." But, perhaps another modern version might read, "who votes doesn't count, it's who gets to draw the maps of the voting districts." As you are settling in to greet your new overlords, you might want to take a look at one of their software tools: Caliper Maptitude.
posted by limitedpie (19 comments total)
Whoa, Tom Delay-in-a-box software!
posted by mathowie at 7:20 PM on December 3, 2003


Good post, limitedpie.
posted by anathema at 7:33 PM on December 3, 2003

export the plan to an equivalency file in dBASE and other ...
People still use dBase?

I wonder just how much demographic data is available with the package and how detailed it is? Isn't there some possibility that detailed analysis could result in it becoming personally identifiable?
posted by dg at 7:34 PM on December 3, 2003

There seems to be some doubt about whether Stalin said that, but we can quote "Boss" Tweed: "As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?" (New York, 1871).
posted by hattifattener at 7:38 PM on December 3, 2003

man, I went to the bank and they had a new Diebold ATM and did it work?
posted by clavdivs at 7:41 PM on December 3, 2003

Miserable Failure Project
posted by stbalbach at 7:59 PM on December 3, 2003

Ohio Halts E-Voting Machines
posted by homunculus at 8:40 PM on December 3, 2003

'Let me control a planet's oxygen supply and I don't care who makes the laws'
--Great Cthulhu's Starry Wisdom Band
posted by dorian at 8:45 PM on December 3, 2003

Partisanship comments regarding district mapping is like a lawyer bitching about doctor fees.
posted by HTuttle at 9:00 PM on December 3, 2003

Is that supposed to be a witty observation?

A lawyer shouldn't bitch about doctor fees because... a lawyer's fees are big too?
A partisanship commentator shouldn't bitch about district mapping because...
(here's where anybody can give it a shot)
posted by crazy finger at 4:37 AM on December 4, 2003

HTuttle: I cannot deny I have a political point of view. Nevertheless, I think this should upset anyone who cares deeply about democracy, right or left. All one needs to do is to imagine "the other side" (whoever that may be for you) in control of the line drawing to be afraid-- very, very afraid-- of the implications.
posted by limitedpie at 6:28 AM on December 4, 2003

"I didn't think we had a rat's ass chance in Hell of putting together a congressional majority in our state", said one Republican political consultant, "but I had heard great things about Caliper Maptitude and the software performed far beyond our wildest expectations - it gave us a two seat majority. It was great for my career - now I'm supervising these sorts of projects in dozens of states."

You know", he reminisced, "this program is more than just gerrymandering on steroids. Of course it's fractal, even down to the house to house level, and so it produces district boundaries of almost infinite length which wind around each other in the most amazingly complex ways. Sometimes, you can find four adjacent houses that each belong to a different district. It's one heck of a program. But there's an aesthetic dimension to it as well. It produces the most beautifully intricate fractal patterns right out of the Mandelbrot set. So, of course, my staffers started a little competition to see who could produce the most striking fractal Rorschach images . They had all the typical stuff, sure, like charging and dancing elephants, outlines of naked women.....one whole wall of our office was devoted to the pictures. But that little game picked up a religious edge when somebody came across a perfect cartoon portrait of Ronald Reagan's head....we bought a nice frame for it and set it up in a little shrine like a Russian religious icon, and people would put flowers and candles around it and sometimes burn a little incense too. Eventually everybody would genuflect to "St. Ronald" whenever they walked past the shrine. I did it too. It was kind of spooky. Fun, too. In the end, I sent it to Tom Delay with the story and I heard he put it in his office and it became a sort of inside joke at first - and then a required ritual - for people to 'Pay regards to St. Ronald' before any big legislative battle."

"Eventually the story got around to Nancy. She cried, they told me - poor woman - she was really touched to hear that her husband's portrait had become a revered icon on people's walls, like Kennedy's picture was to the Democrats........A beautiful piece of software, well worth the money."
posted by troutfishing at 6:52 AM on December 4, 2003

On another (more serious?) note : Metafilter is becoming probably one of the finest lenses through which to view this emerging vote-fraud story - both on and off the Net. It's been a wonderfully collaborative project, the journalistic equivalent to open source software.

As in the same way Linux constantly improves, this evolving story - of the corruption and manipulation of both the voting process and of American democracy itself - just keeps expanding both in breadth, and in depth too. Now we have computer assisted gerrymandering. I wonder what the next appalling tactic will be - the appropriation of state funds, in republican-controlled legislatures, for 'walking around money'?
posted by troutfishing at 7:07 AM on December 4, 2003

While I personally find the prospect unpleasant, I can't argue with the facts of this article. Don't ignore it on the basis of its source.

Also, if gerrymandering interests you, read this book.
posted by Octaviuz at 7:15 AM on December 4, 2003

Octaviuz - here's the corrected link

Meanwhile, Grover Norquist was weaned on a big 'ol nasty pickle the size of a blimp.
posted by troutfishing at 7:43 AM on December 4, 2003

Ugh, kill me now, i've become one of those people. Broken linkers. Pretty soon, I'll be asking where the any key is.

PS thanks tf
posted by Octaviuz at 8:52 AM on December 4, 2003

Oh and if you want to get that pickle pucker of your face, this might help.
However, it's my suspicion that we won't see this trend before 2020. Based on the present districts the Republicans will probably pick up seats in state legislatures over the next decade, giving them the chance to reinforce themselves after the 2010 Census. Recall that the last remnants of the Democratic "Solid South" [Ralph Hall (D-Tx), Bud Cramer (D-Al) etc.] still remain in congress nearly forty years after the VRA, the southern strategy etc.
posted by Octaviuz at 9:07 AM on December 4, 2003

man, I went to the bank and they had a new Diebold ATM and did it work?

just to be clear: Diebold *bank machines* have a paper audit trail - Diebold *voting machines* do not!
posted by dinsdale at 1:53 PM on December 4, 2003

dinsdale - hmmmmm. curiouser and curiouser......
posted by troutfishing at 9:19 PM on December 4, 2003

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