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Back to Florida

By Eloquence in MLP
Fri Jan 05, 2001 at 05:16:00 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Slate has an interesting story on the "press recount" of the US presidential election votes in Florida. The author, Mickey Kaus, concludes: Almost everything we thought about the Florida recount is wrong!


Florida law allows public review of the ballots, and several newspapers have taken the opportunity. The Orlando Sentinel was among the first to report actual results. In the Slate analysis of the data, it is concluded that the decision by the Gore team to ignore "overvotes", ballots where more than one candidate was chosen, was clearly wrong, as the Sentinel count showed that these votes were, by a significant margin, in favor of Gore. Many voters actually wrote the name of a candidate in the write-in field, something that Gore's lawyers had dismissed as an impossibility. Kaus:

In retrospect, it seems glaringly obvious why voters would make the Write-In Mistake. If you're a first-time voter, after all, and you see a ballot that says "Mark your candidate" and then another line that says "Write-in," you might easily think that the latter phrase was instructing you to write in your candidate's name--just to be sure!

Clearly, Slate jumps to a lot of conclusions from the analysis of 6000 discarded ballots, but the question is interesting nevertheless. What, if anything, has to happen if the "press recount" shows a clear Gore victory? Did Gore hire the wrong lawyers, or has he missed essential information because he lost contact with the Democratic political basis?

From a non-American point of view: Have we considered problems like these in Europe and elsewhere? Which countries do actually share the interesting concept of "write-in" candidates (if they allow to elect politicans directly at all)?

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Poll
Is the "press recount" interesting?
o Yes, now we will find out who truly won the election. 20%
o No, the results are totally irrelevant. 14%
o More data is necessary before jumping to any conclusions. 10%
o I'm just bored by all of this, please, NO MORE! 33%
o ____________ (write-in poll option) 21%

Votes: 195
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Almost everything we thought about the Florida recount is wrong!
o The Orlando Sentinel
o Also by Eloquence


Display: Sort:
Back to Florida | 75 comments (65 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
over-votes (3.12 / 8) (#1)
by Refrag on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 03:54:24 PM EST

it is concluded that the decision by the Gore team to ignore "overvotes", ballots where more than one candidate was chosen, was clearly wrong, as the Sentinel count showed that these votes were, by a significant margin, in favor of Gore
How can the votes be in favor of Gore if more than one candidate was chosen? They can't be! There is no way of determining which candidate was supposed to be selected, nor can you determine whether or not the vote was invalidated purposefully by the voter.

Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches

Overvotes (3.66 / 3) (#2)
by Eloquence on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 03:58:27 PM EST

According to the OS story, we're talking about votes like this:

[x] Al Gore

[ ] George W. Bush

[ Al Gore____ ] write in candidate

---

In such cases, it would be clear that the voter voted Gore.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

invalid (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by Refrag on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:07:50 PM EST

I still say that we don't know whether or not the voter intended to invalidate their vote. See Malicose's comment above.

Plus, voting requires that voters be responsible in the process. If a voter invalidates their vote for whatever reason you can't try to "fix" it.

Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

Re: invalid (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by Malicose on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:20:54 PM EST

Plus, voting requires that voters be responsible in the process. If a voter invalidates their vote for whatever reason you can't try to "fix" it.
This is definitely the case.

I don't understand why Sandra Day O'Connor's notion that the standard should be the instructions printed and approved for use on the ballot is not enforced.

[ Parent ]
follow instructions (none / 0) (#75)
by htom on Sun Jan 07, 2001 at 12:14:31 PM EST

Because that method doesn't allow for the post-voting pre-counting manipulation of the results by changing the standards?

:)



Col. Jeff Cooper's First Rule of firearm safety: Always treat every firearm as if it's loaded. Always.
[ Parent ]
I Almost Agree (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by mattyb77 on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:55:08 PM EST

I almost agree with you on that because I often think that people who are too dumb to get it right shouldn't be voting anyway; however, I believe that voting is a right that even the stupid should be able to do, and have their vote cast as they intended.

Furthermore, I don't see why anyone would intentionally invalidate their vote. What's the point? It takes effort and a caring attitude to make time during the day to go and place a vote. If someone really didn't care, why do it at all?

--
"I bestow upon myself the `Doctorate of Cubicism', for educators are ignorant of Nature's Harmonic Time Cube Principle and cannot bestow the prestigious honor of wisdom upon the wisest human ever." -- Gene Ray, the wisest human ever
[ Parent ]
Here's Why (3.33 / 3) (#27)
by Malicose on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:06:11 PM EST

I don't see why anyone would intentionally invalidate their vote. What's the point? It takes effort . . . to . . . go and . . . vote. If someone really didn't care, why do it at all?
People might intentionally invalidate their votes because they're already their to vote for other positions and issues. Maybe the paranoid ones think if they don't clearly mark a bunch of things "to clearly invalidate the vote," someone will be able to easily fill in a blank oval and "steal" their vote.

[ Parent ]
I See Your Point, But ... (3.00 / 2) (#28)
by mattyb77 on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:10:11 PM EST

Well, I still find it rather pathetic. Why vote for something if you're not interested in voting for it at all?

Furthermore, I wonder if whole ballots get thrown out, bringing with them possibly valid votes for other offices/issues.

--
"I bestow upon myself the `Doctorate of Cubicism', for educators are ignorant of Nature's Harmonic Time Cube Principle and cannot bestow the prestigious honor of wisdom upon the wisest human ever." -- Gene Ray, the wisest human ever
[ Parent ]
"Thrown Out" Ballots (4.00 / 2) (#29)
by Malicose on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:14:05 PM EST

"Thrown out" ballots are absolutely not thrown out for all races and issues, just the one(s) where too few or too many options were selected.

[ Parent ]
Invalidating your vote... (4.00 / 2) (#39)
by SIGFPE on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 07:08:46 PM EST

...is, I think, called 'spoiling the ballot paper' in the UK at least, and is a traditional form of protest.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
Canada (none / 0) (#72)
by ZanThrax on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 03:42:09 AM EST

has some folks who sat down with their advance ballots and a glass of milk, and chowed down as some manner of protest. Technically illegal, but made for an amusing newspaper article.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

Invalid because I find it convienent (2.50 / 2) (#33)
by 0xdeadbeef on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:23:24 PM EST

In the case of the example above, it is far far less likely that the voter has intentionally invalidated their vote than that they wanted to vote for Gore. You'd have to be stupider than a Palm Beach granny to assume that.

Either you stick to the rules because those are the rules, or you leave things open to interpretation. Your argument is only valid if voter intentions are irrelevant.

[ Parent ]
Granny (3.50 / 2) (#61)
by anonymous cowerd on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 09:28:12 PM EST

You'd have to be stupider than a Palm Beach granny

It's pretty weird, reading all these pundits in the newspaper editorials publicly making jokes about the senility of those voters who screwed up on that oddly misleading Palm Beach ballot. I mean, sure, you want your man to win and you root for your side, but picking on old people.

Granny's irreplacable personal experience, let's just focus on the adult part of it, might typically include quite a few politically-informative events, viewed up close in real time, such as the Great Depression, the Second World War, the nuclear-armed Cold War and five or six decades wrestling with the job market. Also, to earn her title as "Granny," throw in a couple or three decades, bearing and raising human children from infancy to adulthood. Her experience, in weight and depth, could easily be greater than yours and mine put together, plus throw in another three or four typical K5 readers, OK? She's probably got bad eyesight. You too could maybe screw up if you couldn't see good. That happens a lot when people get old, you know? But Granny isn't stupid.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.
[ Parent ]

Agreed (3.66 / 3) (#3)
by Malicose on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:02:14 PM EST

The clearest situation of an overvote being for a particular item would be when the ovals next to the candidate name and next to the write-in blank were both filled in, with the name in the blank matching the other one marked. This still guarantees nothing since I know there are people who under- or overvote just to be fancy in their protesting of the "two evils."

[ Parent ]
Overvoting (3.40 / 5) (#14)
by Eloquence on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:23:13 PM EST

This still guarantees nothing since I know there are people who under- or overvote just to be fancy in their protesting of the "two evils."

Sure, but if they want to protest the "two evils", they will pick both. It seems highly unlikely that someone who wants to intentionally invalidate his vote (people like the "Billionaires for Bush or Gore" crowd) would choose Gore and then write-in Gore. I believe that most courts would probably have ruled in favor of Gore in such cases, they are a much more certain vote for Gore than the chads, dimpled or otherwise.

Isn't it perhaps that the people who say now "You can't know" really mean "I don't want to know"?
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Re: Overvoting (3.33 / 3) (#23)
by Malicose on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:50:55 PM EST

It seems highly unlikely that someone who wants to intentionally invalidate his vote . . . would choose Gore and then write-in Gore.
But doesn't it also seem highly unlikely that a person with the slightest concern about whether his vote will be counted would simply follow the printed and approved instructions? I won't argue that it's probably the case that most people who did this intended to vote for that particular fellow, but I don't think there should be the question of intent--follow the instructions!

[ Parent ]
Maybe, maybe not (3.50 / 4) (#25)
by Eloquence on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:00:09 PM EST

But doesn't it also seem highly unlikely that a person with the slightest concern about whether his vote will be counted would simply follow the printed and approved instructions?

Perhaps they thought that "people will read it and figure it out", after all, not many people cared about the counting process before the 2000 election mess. Perhaps they tried to get another ballot, but couldn't get one because all the assistants were busy (has happened), perhaps they asked the assistants whether it would be OK and they said yes. Of all possibilities, it seems least likely that they did it intentionally to screw up their vote. And I believe that, if thousands of votes were invalidated, intent should be examined, especially in such a close election..
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

RE: Overvoting (3.50 / 4) (#30)
by kaemaril on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:14:09 PM EST

But doesn't it also seem highly unlikely that a person with the slightest concern about whether his vote will be counted would simply follow the printed and approved instructions?

Sure. And if that person followed those instructions, but misunderstood them? Does that mean (s)he's suddenly not concerned about his/her vote? Or does it simply mean he's been very silly? As I understand it, even the very stupid are allowed to vote.;)


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Misunderstanding (3.66 / 3) (#32)
by Malicose on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:20:18 PM EST

You make a decent point, but I would hope those who might have trouble understanding the instructions that the people elected approved would know enough to ask one of the designated helpers. Don't counter with, "But what if they're refused help or laughed at!?" The reason is that this is a case of deceitful behavior and is similar to--even reeking of--fraudulent activities. That is another animal entirely.

I'm not sure if this is standard across, but where I vote, the people are thoroughly instructed on how to vote each time they go to the polling booths.

[ Parent ]
RE: Misunderstanding (3.66 / 3) (#40)
by kaemaril on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 07:18:09 PM EST

I agree, if people have problems understanding the instructions they should ask for help. I can see two possible problems, however:

1) They're embarrassed to ask for help, even if they know it is available and no, they won't get laughed at. This, in many cases, is human nature. Let's face it, people die from diseases which could have been prevented, if only they'd gone to the doctor earlier. Why didn't they? Embarrassment. The big "E" can make even normally sensible people do crazy things.

2) They don't realize they've misunderstood the rules. Depending on how the rules are written, this could happen. For example, in the case cited where people have allegedly ticked Gore, then written his name, thus triggering an "overvote"... I bet it says somewhere, do not vote for two candidates. But does it say "Do not vote for the same candidate twice"?


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
That's Dumb (3.25 / 4) (#26)
by mattyb77 on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:02:36 PM EST

That is so stupid and wasteful (not you).

I think if someone was going to vote as a way to protest the "two evils" then they shouldn't even bother voting in the first place. The fact that we only got 50% (highest in a long time, IIRC) of the voting public to vote in this election clearly demonstrates the apathy most people have for the election system in the USA.

And the whole "fancy" thing is just pathetic (again, not you).

--
"I bestow upon myself the `Doctorate of Cubicism', for educators are ignorant of Nature's Harmonic Time Cube Principle and cannot bestow the prestigious honor of wisdom upon the wisest human ever." -- Gene Ray, the wisest human ever
[ Parent ]
Read the article. (3.60 / 5) (#7)
by elenchos on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:07:15 PM EST

Or just use "Find in Page" to get the first use of the term "overvotes" if you don't want to read the entire article before composing a response. They are "ballots the optical scanning machines had rejected because they detected marks for more than one presidential candidate." The article goes on to explain how a human could detect the voters wishes even when the machine was correct in seeing two holes punched.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

wrong (1.00 / 2) (#9)
by Refrag on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:13:46 PM EST

See my post above.

Refrag

Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

RE: overvotes (3.80 / 5) (#16)
by kaemaril on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:25:54 PM EST

Um... wasn't one of the points made in the article the fact that, in about one fifth of the recounted "overvotes", ONLY ONE candidate was chosen, but was chosen *twice*? I.e, some voter had ticked "Gore" and then written in "Gore" in the section marked "write in"? It seems to me that such an overvote should not be considered an "overvote" as only one candidate was selected, albeit twice.

A machine cannot draw any conclusion other than it's an overvote. A human being can easily see that it isn't, but simply a misunderstanding on the part of the voter


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Apparently (none / 0) (#71)
by ZanThrax on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 03:39:20 AM EST

K5 is starting to have the same problem as /. People can't be bothered to read the fucking article before spouting. That's at least the third person I've seen make a similar comment that simply would not occur to someone who'd read the article first.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

Remedy (3.60 / 5) (#4)
by finkployd on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:03:40 PM EST

What, then is the remedy? I don't think anyone will argue that the way we vote is screwed and needs fixed. No I'm not talking about the oft maligned and rarely understood electoral college, or the two party system, I mean the physical system of voting.

How do we dumb down the current system so that there is no confusion and chaos? What is the lowest common denominator of ballots that would make sure nobody votes for the wrong person, or votes for two tickets? I can't think of any current system that is idiot proof enough that somebody won't mess it up and scream "foul".

Any ideas?

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
Give the voters a machine. (4.40 / 5) (#12)
by gauntlet on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:17:40 PM EST

Here's the problem: People punch votes, machines read punches. This creates problems that didn't exist with people marking an X, and other people reading the X.

The solution that I like is to have machines punch the cards. You take a blank card, drop it in the top of the unit. The unit provides you with an interface, you make your selections, it punches a card appropriatly, and drops it out the bottom. Then, you drop it in the top again, and it shows you the votes that will be read from that ballot. If the screen doesn't say what you put in, or what you expected, or what you intended, then chuck it in the bin, and put in another blank card.

Essentially, if machines are going to be reading the ballots, then the same sorts of machines really ought to be marking them, and ought to be verifying for the voter their intent. This also maintains the physical existance of the ballot, so that the security measures currently used won't have to be totally revamped.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

I like that (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by finkployd on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:08:23 PM EST

I like that, but I'll bet it would be pretty expensive (not that we shouldn't be spending money to fix this).

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Remedy (2.00 / 3) (#19)
by kaemaril on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:33:04 PM EST

How about this:

You get, posted to the wall of a voting booth, a big list of the candidates, labeled 1 thru... 10? 20? whatever.

You then have a bit of paper with a box in it, and the instruction is this:

Write the number of the corrupt politician you want to vote for in the box. If you don't want to vote for any of those gits, 'cos you think they're all as bad as each other, leave the box blank

<That's just about as simple as you can get, isn't it? Even George Dubbyah should be able to figure that one out... once he gets his dad to explain it to him


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Remedy (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by kaemaril on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:33:47 PM EST

How about this:

You get, posted to the wall of a voting booth, a big list of the candidates, labeled 1 thru... 10? 20? whatever.

You then have a bit of paper with a box in it, and the instruction is this:

Write the number of the corrupt politician you want to vote for in the box. If you don't want to vote for any of those gits, 'cos you think they're all as bad as each other, leave the box blank

<That's just about as simple as you can get, isn't it? Even George Dubbyah should be able to figure that one out... once he gets his dad to explain it to him


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Potential Problem (2.00 / 2) (#41)
by finkployd on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:06:50 PM EST

I can see it now, Pat Bucannhan and Gore run again next time, and Gore is 6 and Pat is 9, and thousands of Gore supporters confuse the number 6 and 9 (being the same flipped upside down, in addition to a fun position) and vote for Pat. Next thing Jesse Jackson is trying to incite a riot again. That won't work.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
RE: Potential Problem (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by kaemaril on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 06:30:08 AM EST

Simple solution... don't include either the number six or the number 9. There's plenty of precedent for this. Apparently the British Army (and presumably others) don't include the number 5 in a countdown, as "five" can be confused with "fire".

Alternatively, a very large red arrow on the sheet with "this way up" on it should do the trick... unless the person voting delivers mail :)

Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
RE: Potential Problem (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by finkployd on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 08:09:24 AM EST

But you are getting my point, there will always be people who claim something was wrong and cry "foul" if the election doesn't go their way. There will always be and undervote (because not everyone votes for every election) and the losing party will always claim that the undervote was meant for them. The undervote in florida is consistant with the typical undervote in past elections but nobody complained about it then.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
RE: Potential Problem (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by kaemaril on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 08:44:28 AM EST

Yes, there will always be one or two people who claim that even the fairest system is somehow unfair to them. But this isn't what's happenening here. What IS happening is that it's been pointed out that some people voted and, due to misunderstanding, the voter's intent (which, I believe, was the only "standard" applicable in Florida) was ignored. Any human being examining such a vote would have immediately come to to the reasonable conclusion that the "double vote" was for one candidate, and one candidate only, and should have been included.
Nobody complained before, presumably, because the vote has never been close enough that it became significant. If *every* vote were this close, I've no doubt that these votes would be complained about every time.
And rightly so, imho.

Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
But how? (3.00 / 1) (#49)
by finkployd on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 10:32:37 AM EST

Any human being examining such a vote would have immediately come to to the reasonable conclusion that the "double vote" was for one candidate, and one candidate only, and should have been included.

Ok, how? Looking at a punch card with two holes punched out, how are you supposed to divine which candidate the 'real' vote was cast for? I wish they did that on all the tests I took in college, I'm pretty sure they just marked answers wrong when you filled in more than one circle.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
RE: But how? (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by kaemaril on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 11:32:45 AM EST

I was referring specifically to the problem referenced in the original article... namely, that of overwriting by means of ticking a candidates name and then - due to some misunderstanding of the rules - writing the *same* candidates name in the box left reserved for others. In essence voting for Gore (or Bush, or whoever) "twice" on the same ballot.

Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Bad arguement (none / 0) (#70)
by ZanThrax on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 03:35:53 AM EST

You sound just like the partisan drones trying to make the other side sound like the ultimate evil on CNN from 6 weeks ago. kaemaril's not talking about ballots with two different votes, he's talking about the ballots that the machine can't determine a vote on, but an intelligent human can. If the person wrote the same name as the one they marked, they meant to vote for that person. If they filled one circle, and erased it and marked a second circle, they were voting for the second. Its not hard to set up a standard for such things. You start off by setting the rules for some simple cases, such as these two, and ones that are clearly ruined ballots (two or more marked, or just blank). When a counter comes across some new situation (say, name written in, but write-in circle not marked), its sent to "head office", who then hand down the rule for that situation. In all but the most obvious situations, the ruling would be "spoiled ballot" True, this sort of thing would take time, but that's why there's two and a half months between the vote and the inaugiration. Too bad it was wasted with court fights since there was no system in place.

As far as the college tests, if you had a decent TA, they looked at the tests with questions flagged for invalid responses. If not, then surely your TA or prof would have been capable of looking at a paper with obvious intent and using their reasoning capabilities to mark it by hand?

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

As pointed out elsewhere (none / 0) (#69)
by ZanThrax on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 03:26:32 AM EST

Margin of error > Margin of victory = unknown result.

Therefore, if the undervotes, overvotes, and other forms of bad ballots, is larger than the margin of victory, then there are perfectly legitamite questions about the result. Even though any system will have margins of error and complaints about confusion, it is still worthwhile to examine other options, because the margin of error can be reduced from what is currently an obscenely large percentage. Optical scanning systems are barely accurate enough for use for high school exams, and they were the best method used in Florida. (and probably every other state too. What's wrong with simply counting the bloody things by hand anyhow?)


Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

Votes (3.95 / 21) (#5)
by trhurler on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:05:13 PM EST

Well, seeing as it is blatantly illegal to count overvotes no matter what, it doesn't really matter whether Gore's lawyers paid attention to them or not. In addition, your question about "what has to happen if the press recount shows a clear Gore victory" is absurd - NOTHING will happen, because the election is OVER. The US is not some two bit wannabe democracy - we have rules and procedures, and unlike some places, we actually follow them most of the time. It is better that the law "unfairly" change the outcome of an election than that we ignore the law - you can always modify the law to prevent future problems, but once you ignore it, you have set a precedent for ignoring it, and then nothing and nobody is safe.

By the way, overvotes are usually either protest ballots in which the voter deliberately avoids voting FOR anyone despite having voted(these clearly should not go to Gore,) or else people too stupid to understand the concept of "one man, one vote," in which case counting them as even having an opinion is sort of like letting the family dog vote.

I don't like Bush, and I don't like Gore. The fact is, Bush is the next president of the US regardless of who does or does not approve. Get over it.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Sacred cow? (3.87 / 8) (#11)
by Eloquence on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:17:20 PM EST

Well, seeing as it is blatantly illegal to count overvotes no matter what, it doesn't really matter whether Gore's lawyers paid attention to them or not. In addition, your question about "what has to happen if the press recount shows a clear Gore victory" is absurd - NOTHING will happen, because the election is OVER.

That is most likely true, but is it also right? I think you were the guy talking about "sacred cows making the best hamburgers"; is the "sacredness" of an election result really a good thing, even if the data shows that the "intent of the voters" was different from the certified result? Furthermore, I believe another important question is what to do to prevent "unfair" certification in the future. At least, the rules for ballot counting should be as clear as possible.

By the way, overvotes are usually either protest ballots in which the voter deliberately avoids voting FOR anyone despite having voted

This is, apparently, not the case with the votes the Orlando Sentinel has reported about.

I don't like Bush, and I don't like Gore. The fact is, Bush is the next president of the US regardless of who does or does not approve. Get over it.

Well, I don't have to live under either Bush or Gore, so while you have my sympathy, it's not a subject that concerns me personally. Still, I found (and still find) the battle over the Florida votes interesting, and it raised a lot of valid questions.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Re: Sacred cow? (2.60 / 5) (#18)
by Malicose on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:32:04 PM EST

This is, apparently, not the case with the votes the Orlando Sentinel has reported about.
The Orlando Sentinel counted the overvotes if "an oval next to his (Gore or Bush's) name was filled in with a pencil and the voter mistakenly filled in another oval next to a spot reserved for write-in candidates, writing in Gore [or Bush's] name or [one of the] running mate[s'] there as well." This, to me, is still subjective because many assume their votes will not be counted for such marks.

[ Parent ]
!Sacred cow. (4.00 / 4) (#34)
by trhurler on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:25:03 PM EST

That is most likely true, but is it also right? I think you were the guy talking about "sacred cows making the best hamburgers"; is the "sacredness" of an election result really a good thing, even if the data shows that the "intent of the voters" was different from the certified result?
I agree with your elsewhere stated assertion that it might be worthwhile to investigate how people voted in order to prevent future problems.

That said, this isn't really about sacred cows, no matter what the talking heads say. It is about a simple fact: the rule of law in general is more important than the outcome of one presidential election. If you screw up an election, a guy wins who might otherwise have lost, but at least life goes on and you can try to fix the system for next time. If you subvert the rule of law, we might as well give up on this whole representative democracy thing and just institute a dictatorship by bloody coup - at least that would be an honest lawlessness, in which people are not screwed over by lawlessness in the guise of law. The law says we judge the election according to whatever law is in effect on the day of the election - and that further law has certain things to say. If it is unclear in areas or has problems, we should fix those - but the fixes apply to future elections - not to this one. Otherwise, lawmaking also becomes "electing."

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
It's important to know the truth (3.12 / 8) (#15)
by goonie on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:25:51 PM EST

GW Bush is going to be the next US president. That's not disputed by anyone, and that's not the issue here. What is at issue is whether the result reflected the will of the people, and that's worth finding out.

As to your offensive views on people who didn't vote correctly, try looking up the difference between "illiterate" and "stupid".

[ Parent ]

Offensive, illiterate, and so on (3.25 / 8) (#31)
by trhurler on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:17:36 PM EST

As to your offensive views on people who didn't vote correctly, try looking up the difference between "illiterate" and "stupid".
"Offensive" is a really pathetic word. It is an attempt to divorce the act of taking offense from the person taking the offense, thereby claiming that some things are inherently bad in such a way that everyone will or should find them to be offensive. The problem is, there are few or no things that everyone finds or should find to be offensive - and it is sad irony that the same people who ought to know this(they preach about open mindedness and so on,) are the ones who talk about how offensive everything is.

As for the difference between "illiterate" and "stupid," what you really meant was "ignorant" and "stupid," and I'm not one who thinks that people so ignorant that they don't know they're only supposed to pick one candidate for a given office should be counted - you'd do as well to feed ballots through a machine that marked them randomly. This does not mean I advocate testing to eliminate voters, but overvotes, undervotes, and so on do not deserve to be counted - if you can't be bothered to learn how to vote properly, then your opinion isn't important. You can be offended by this statement until the sun consumes the earth for all I care - it will still be correct. Not all truths give warm fuzzies.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I knew exactly what I meant. (2.50 / 6) (#36)
by goonie on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:46:35 PM EST

I said "illiterate" and I meant "illiterate". Some people have trouble reading even simple instructions. This does not make them stupid, nor does it make them wilfully ignorant.

As to you disliking the word "offensive", tough shit. I happen to hold the ideas of democracy in rather high regard, and I regard your views to be anti-democratic. To me, democracy means stupid people get to vote too, and should get their votes counted if at all possible. In my opinion, you are wrong, and on a subject I consider very important - hence I was offended. I can't stop you holding that view, and though I would like to persuade you otherwise, I can't force you to change. Similarly, I was offended by your statement of "fact" (which was no more and no less than your personal view) and will remain so, no matter what you might like. Deal with it.

To be honest, I don't know why I bothered replying to your post at all. You're not really interested in a dialogue, are you?

[ Parent ]

Well, ok... (3.71 / 7) (#37)
by trhurler on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 06:13:21 PM EST

Some people have trouble reading even simple instructions. This does not make them stupid, nor does it make them wilfully ignorant.
There are people there to help such individuals, although it is certainly up for debate whether or not someone that ignorant has any business choosing world leaders. If those illiterate people do not take advantage of the help available, then they are never going to successfully vote, and it is not the business of all the rest of us to try to figure out what they meant - all the moreso because most voting mistakes are indistinguishable from certain forms of protest voting, which should NOT be counted. If you cannot be bothered to vote properly, then your vote should not be counted. Period.
I happen to hold the ideas of democracy in rather high regard, and I regard your views to be anti-democratic.
Ok, then you were offended. That does not make my views inherently offensive - YOU were offended. Maybe a lot of people would be offended. This is not the same as my viewpoint being inherently offensive, which is what people using that word attempt to equate with it.

As for my views, they're hardly anti-democratic, but they aren't egalitarian, which is what you probably think of when you say "democratic." I'm all for open, fair elections - but I think they should have rules, and I think that people who don't follow them should be ignored. If there is a problem where someone CANNOT follow the rules, then the rules should be fixed to accomodate this. As it stands, the rules for the Florida election DID accomodate illiteracy and even lack of ability to speak English, and yet many people still voted improperly. There is talk of the system not living up to the rules - if this is the case, then it needs fixing, but that does not mean we should count votes in ways that are illegal.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Supposedly anyhoe (none / 0) (#67)
by ZanThrax on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 03:12:44 AM EST

There are people there to help such individuals. I seem to recall at least a little bit of reporting and discussion of the excessive workload and incompetence/unprepardness of many of the volenteers who were supposed to be able to help said individuals.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

There is political leverage to be gained... (3.55 / 9) (#17)
by elenchos on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:28:40 PM EST

...by making the election of Bush seem as illigitimate as possible. Look at how Clinton's opponents loved to remind everyone that he didn't have a simple majority of the electorate. Bush, by that standard, is even less deserving to be president than the said Clinton was. It's all just rhetoric of course, but it might succeed in chipping away support for any kind of mandate that Bush could claim, making his job of getting a divided congress to do what he wants all the harder.

Personally, I think it's overkill, since Bush's own lack of talent and ability will ensure that he accomplishes litte no matter how long they can keep a cloud hanging over his election.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

G.W. Bush's Illegitimacy (2.60 / 5) (#22)
by Malicose on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:44:30 PM EST

Look at how Clinton's opponents loved to remind everyone that he didn't have a simple majority of the electorate. Bush, by that standard, is even less deserving to be president than the said Clinton was.
This is wrong because G.W. Bush received a larger number of popular votes than Clinton did on either of his runs for President. The actual numbers for Clinton were 34,736,076 and 47,401,898 in 1992 and 1996 respectively; G.W. Bush's popular vote was 50,456,167.

[ Parent ]
So now I'm supposed to say: "No! The... (4.00 / 7) (#35)
by elenchos on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 05:40:18 PM EST

...percentages are what count! Looked at that way, blah, blah,..."

It is still just rhetoric. You pick the statistic that casts your side in a favorable light. Percentage of total adult US population, percentage of eligible voters, or of votes actually cast. Whatever.

The point is to look at what the purpose behind it is. To make Bush look marginal, to put an asterisk next to his presidency, like the pro sports record during a strike season or something. A political master like Clinton could probably overcome being hobbled by such a stigma. Clinton could overcome just about anything they threw at him, and will likely be an influence to be reckoned with for some years to come, God help us all. Bush, in contrast, will not have the gumption and the savvy to over come even the minor obstacles presented by the current makeup of congress, let alone his weak appearance from being elected under such circumstances. Prepare to see a Whitehouse that accomplishes little or nothing.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Is That Bad? (3.80 / 5) (#38)
by Matrix on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 07:07:29 PM EST

Given some of the "wonderful" things the Clinton White House did, and other "wonderful" things people are afraid Bush will now do, is that really such a bad thing?


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Popular votes (3.66 / 3) (#50)
by delmoi on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 10:59:18 AM EST

While bush may have gotten more popular votes then Clinton, he still recived less popular votes then Gore so I don't see what point you might be trying to make...
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
blatantly illegal? (4.66 / 6) (#46)
by thejeff on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 07:55:58 AM EST

Well, seeing as it is blatantly illegal to count overvotes no matter what, it doesn't really matter whether Gore's lawyers paid attention to them or not. In addition, your question about "what has to happen if the press recount shows a clear Gore victory" is absurd - NOTHING will happen, because the election is OVER. The US is not some two bit wannabe democracy - we have rules and procedures, and unlike some places, we actually follow them most of the time. It is better that the law "unfairly" change the outcome of an election than that we ignore the law - you can always modify the law to prevent future problems, but once you ignore it, you have set a precedent for ignoring it, and then nothing and nobody is safe.

Do you have some specific reference for the 'blatantly illegal' comment? As I understand it, Florida law allows for challenges and recounts and the only standard given is the 'intent of the voter'. Without a manual recount the standard boils down to whatever the counting machine can read, but I don't know of any legal requirement saying that any other standard is illegal.

I do agree that the outcome should not be changed at this stage no matter what comes out of recounts, but I think recounts should done for historical reasons, and to highlight the need for better procedures.

By the way, overvotes are usually either protest ballots in which the voter deliberately avoids voting FOR anyone despite having voted(these clearly should not go to Gore,) or else people too stupid to understand the concept of "one man, one vote," in which case counting them as even having an opinion is sort of like letting the family dog vote.

Anyone who makes a protest vote by marking Gore and then writing in Gore's name should have no right to complain if that gets counted. If you want to protest, mark 2 different candidates, or write in Mickey Mouse or something.

thejeff

[ Parent ]

Overvotes (3.25 / 4) (#54)
by trhurler on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 12:46:13 PM EST

Yes, but the vast majority of overvotes were not Gore punched ballots with Gore written in. A few were, but the majority were either double punched or written in and punched one or more times with at least one non-Gore mark on the ballot. Gore supporters are now saying that if Gore was marked AND some other candidate was marked, that is clearly a Gore ballot - which is obviously false.

As for the standard of balloting, "intent of the voter" has been interpreted over and over again in many jurisdictions to mean only counting a ballot when that intent can be unambiguously determined. Now, you can say what you want to say about a few exceptional cases, like Gore votes that are also written in for Gore, but the fact remains that the vast majority of the rejected ballots are ambiguous at best, and therefore would require subjective interpretation as to what they "mean." That's illegal. For the same reason, as far as I'm aware, no election in history in the US has ever allowed overvotes to count. Exceptions would probably be cases where this fact was not widely advertised, so it could have happened anyway, but that wouldn't make it legal.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Overvotes (5.00 / 2) (#55)
by thejeff on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 01:22:09 PM EST

This particular county used a pencil mark optical scanning system, not punchcards, so these results may not be typical, but on the other hand, the optical systems are supposedly more accurate.

According to both the articles referenced in the story, out of 3114 overvotes, 376 were marked for Gore and a writein of Gore, 246 for Bush and a writein of Bush. That's a net gain of 130 for Gore from one small county. That's what the story was based on. There were other overvotes that were also fairly unambiguous, but those counted in the Sentinel's totals. Things like 2 votes with one that the voter had tried to erase.

They also looked at some undervotes and found votes in ink or incorrect marks (checks, Xs , or circles) instead of the correct filled in oval. All of these aren't following instructions, but in many of these cases the intent is clear.

Granted, most over (or under) votes are ambiguous, but with the contest as close as it was, a very small percentage would have been enough to shift the outcome.

thejeff

[ Parent ]

Small county (1.60 / 5) (#56)
by trhurler on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 01:27:26 PM EST

That's a rather deceptive statement, seeing as Gore was only favored in a handful of counties, and the rest mostly favored Bush. It is entirely possible that Gore supporters are more illiterate, ignorant, and/or plain out stupid than Bush supporters, in which case maybe more overvotes would go to Gore even in Bush counties, but this seems somewhat unlikely.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Sloppy Dem Thesis (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by thejeff on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 03:05:45 PM EST

Actually, according to the Salon article, Bush carried Lake County by a wide margin. And he mentions the "Sloppy Dem Thesis", which is basically what you suggested as unlikely. I find that depressing, but this does seem to be a point in it's favor.

thejeff

[ Parent ]

Not blatantly illegal, then (4.00 / 2) (#63)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri Jan 05, 2001 at 01:04:36 PM EST

Its not in fact blatantly illegal to count overvotes, then, is it ? In fact Florida law specifically requires ballots rejected by counting machines to be examined by hand to determine the "clear intent of the voter". I've forgotten the statute, but I've quoted it elsewhere. In a very close election these things can make a difference, and in the recent US election this law was disregarded.

The only basis for disregarding votes that might be legal is the supreme courts new discovery regarding "equal protetction" and voting standards - that some objective standard has to be used to judge voter intent. Call me a cynic, but I suspect this brand new precedent is going to be mysteriously forgotten come the next election.


Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Florida's Automatic Recount (4.00 / 3) (#10)
by Malicose on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 04:13:50 PM EST

Due to the closeness of the original Florida vote tally, an automatic recount was enacted. Given that the machines are checked before an election to ensure they're functioning properly, why would running all of the votes through those same machines again produce results that are intrinsically more accurate?

Isn't it likely that chads falling out and ballots being tampered with harms the accuracy of the results more than machines mysteriously skipping or miscounting a ballots? If the system is that equipment is inspected again before this second machine count, why not do this before the first count!? One would think the machines, if anything, would be more worn for the second try.

Can anyone enlighten me on this matter?

Please sir... (2.57 / 7) (#43)
by cadfael on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 01:00:06 AM EST

...can I have no more? -1 because the election is over and don't care just isn't strong enough anymore.

Please tell me this was posted as a joke....

Security
People who get between me and my morning coffee should feel insecure.
IETF RFC on HTCPCP

heh (3.16 / 6) (#44)
by Nyarlathotep on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 01:41:33 AM EST

I do not care about who wins.. I just want to see some country send out ambasador home because they don't believe our election results were fair.. :)

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
It's simple: Get the data (4.20 / 5) (#57)
by pmk on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 02:07:14 PM EST

We all know what the margin of victory for Bush in Florida was. What we don't know is what the margin of error was. What makes this important is the danger that the margin of error may have exceeded the margin of victory. If true, then the results in Florida were not reliable, and the election of the American president will have been determined by chance. This would be true if Gore had been declared the winner in Florida, too.

This might be an incredibly important issue for American democracy, one that overshadows petty party politics. We don't know yet whether we need to act. This is why we have to get the data. Every voter in the U.S. should pay close attention to this story and its implications for election reform, especially voters in Florida.

If you vote, and you don't care about this story, then why do you vote? If you don't vote, and you don't care, please don't stand in the way of those of us who do want the margin of error to be less than the margin of victory in our elections.



Election reform (none / 0) (#68)
by ZanThrax on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 03:18:27 AM EST

would require setting standards, preferably on a federal level, which, as far as I can tell, is as much anathema to Americans as regulating industry. When this mess first got going, I figured that what the US needs is an independant election agency seperate from the parties, but watching the daily idiocies each night, I have to wonder if there are more than a handful of US citizens who are both qualified for such activities and capable of non-partisan thought. The idea that a presidential election between two parties can be affected, let alone decided at the state level by members of the exact same parties is profoundly disturbing.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

you're not going to 'get the data' (none / 0) (#74)
by gregholmes on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 02:36:49 PM EST

Every news organization that does this will get different results, because each will use a different standard. And I'll bet dollars to doughnuts the standard they use won't be a properly executed ballot per the instructions.



[ Parent ]
Write in votes? (2.75 / 4) (#59)
by enterfornone on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 06:52:34 PM EST

What a dumb idea. It's a wonder Natalie Portman Naked and Petrified didn't win the election (anyone remember the hassles write in votes caused on segfault).

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
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