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Constitutional Crisis in America

By maynard in Op-Ed
Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 09:12:21 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

The United States currently awaits a recount in our Presidential election. This close race has turned into a constitutional crisis not because of a potential popular vote/electoral college split, but because of several voting irregularities within the state of Florida. The debate over how to handle those Palm Beach County ballots tossed out, and those mistakenly cast for Buchanan, is at it's heart really a debate over interpreting law by strict process and rulemaking vs. interpreting the constitutional intent of our founders when they wrote "one man, one vote". I argue that if we step away from the intent of our constitution by squelching voters through arbitrary procedural means, then we've diminished the constitution potentially beyond repair.

Past issues over the rights of minorities and women during our founding father's time aside, today every US citizen who registers to vote has a presumed right to cast their ballot how they see fit. To withhold that right from a citizen diminishes our constitutional government's integrity in ways we simply can't imagine. The reason this is a constitutional crisis is because we have one political party using a tactic of excluding votes in order to force a local electoral college win over a slim popular mandate. If Bush/Cheney had won Florida decisively, this simply wouldn't be an issue. But because there are about twenty thousand outstanding ballots most of which would clearly go to Gore, this forces our society to choose between following the intent of our framer's and founding father's constitutional intent versus local Florida law and politics. This is a State's rights versus citizen's rights issue, whereby constitutional law is on the side of citizens.

To prove this point I cite St. Louis Missouri, where long lines of voters were turned away at the polls because of an arbitrary closing time. A local judge at the request of Democrats ordered that polls remain open until voters had finished casting their ballots. In response, attorneys for the Bush/Cheney team asked a Federal judge to overturn that ruling and had the polls closed within minutes.

It's true that the local law set the poll closing at 8pm. But it's also true that the Bush/Cheney ticket staked their win on reducing voter turnout and revoking the rights of some citizens to vote. This goes to the heart of our founding fathers' intent of one man one vote. The question is simple, do we allow arbitrary rule making to overturn our most fundamental constitutional right, that of to vote, or do we consider the intent of our constitutional voting rights during a contested election?

To resolve this issue over the long haul we're going to have to fundamentally change the voting system, either through electronic balloting or by going toward the Oregon vote by mail system. To maintain our Founding Father's intent we must enact into law a means whereby citizens can vote their conscience without ever being excluded from the polls for arbitrary reasons. This means removing hurdled to registration, removing unnecessary and onerous time limits, and even occasionally re-voting in contested areas. We might also want a constitutional amendment to revoke the electoral college. Frankly, I would support this, but it's passage should follow the traditional method of a constitutional amendment.

I think that if, as a society, we don't allow for another election in at least Palm Beach, if not all of Florida, then we've simply taken another step away from citizen's constitutional rights toward the rights of attorneys and other law makers to force decisions through procedural means. This is very much a battle over citizen's voting rights versus entrenched political and legal power. Unfortunately, entrenched power usually wins. Some of the Republican pundits on the news channels are suggesting that if Gore contests Florida, they will contest other races throughout the republic. Personally, I think that if they have a good reason to contest a local race, they should bring the news forward. No political party or candidate who uses voter exclusion to force a win has really won the consent of the governed. He should open his arms to every American who wishes to vote, whether it costs him the election or not. Because otherwise, he really will be the President of a population which won't support him, and that could truly turn into a major American crisis.

Excluding voters from the ballot is yet another step toward diluting our republic's democracy. We've seen many others rights diminished, such as property and privacy rights diluted for the Drug War; Free Speech rights diluted for corporate intellectual property rights interests; executive branch unilateral military action without congressional approval. These are but a few examples. The point is that citizens most fundamental rights are at stake, which makes this a constitutional crisis of the most serious nature. How we resolve this will set a precedent which will determine whether we enshrine Clintonian procedural chicanery of the worst sort, such as parsing what the meaning of the word "is" is, rather than handling this election by fundamental constitutional principals. One man, one vote!

ps: I recognize that Rusty is requesting that we hold off on further Presidential Election story submissions. However, I see this issue as far more important than just this election. This issue drives at the heart of citizen's constitutional rights, and therefore this election is simply an example is a core problem with our democratic republic. This is why I've sent it into the submission queue, even though I recognize that readers are getting a bit tired of the whole subject.


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Is constitutional one man one vote more important than local law?
o Yes 28%
o No 3%
o Issue framed improperly 26%
o Gore Sucks! 2%
o Bush Sucks! 6%
o Both Decocrat and Republican parties Suck! 31%

Votes: 258
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by maynard

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Constitutional Crisis in America | 102 comments (92 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Is One Man-One Vote what the Founders said? (3.30 / 10) (#3)
by titivillus on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 11:52:33 AM EST

I don't think so. The founders said Senators get chosen by the States, not the voters of the states. The founders created the Electoral College. (That the electoral college is a great defense against voter fraud upping the popular vote in one locality and thus tipping the election is not an issue I'll delve into here.) While the founders wanted public participation (delta previously-covered issues of race and gender), they wanted mediated participation, not One-Man, One-Vote. Otherwise we might have "Natalie Portman, naked and petrified" elected President. B)

Op-Ed not at issue with Electoral College (none / 0) (#5)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 11:57:58 AM EST

I state that I'm not contesting the legitimacy of the Electoral College right in the body of the text. However, state to state, one man one vote is the law of the land, enshrined by the Constitution. The point is, do we allow local laws to trump our Constitutional rights, or are we as citizens going to stand up for our right to vote?


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

No "one man, one vote" in my copy (none / 0) (#79)
by converter on Sun Nov 12, 2000 at 08:40:54 AM EST

Sorry, but my copy of the Consitution doesn't mention anything about "one man, one vote." The constitution specifies a republican form of government, which was designed to preclude "one man, one vote" mob rule.

[ Parent ]
Poll. (2.33 / 9) (#4)
by Alarmist on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 11:52:37 AM EST

This is really a no-brainer. Of course the constitutional mandate is more important, because the constitution trumps everything else.

The real issue here though is one of implementation. The manner in which voting is conducted is handled by the individual counties. In Palm Beach, voters used a paper punch ballot. In Shelby County, TN, we used electronic machines (much, much better in my opinion).

How is the implementation issue to be solved? Should there be a set of federal guidelines specifying the manner in which voting should be conducted? IMO, no. What's important is that those who are eligible and interested in voting be able to do so in a fairly painless manner. If you can't do that where you live, either campaign for change or leave. That's the beauty of a representative government: you can bring about changes without having to leave or overthrow the government.

And yes, I voted -1 because this ought to go into one of the pre-existing articles about this, despite its length. Still, you make some good points.

Misleading comment, no backup... (2.75 / 8) (#6)
by Speare on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:04:48 PM EST

response, attorneys for the Bush/Cheney team asked a Federal judge to overturn that ruling and had the polls closed within minutes

The linked MSNBC story states, Representatives of the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign appealed to federal judges to overturn the order of the state judge. The federal judges declined but the state appeals court took up the case.

One, your posting was worded to suggest that the Feds trumped County and State laws and shut it down, a clear violation of the charter. The article also doesn't say if the precincts were shut down as a result of the appeal, counter to your implication.

Two, if the State decided to shut it down, it's within their prerogative: that's why voting laws are local. Timely counting does depend on having a process and rules in place. I'd say that the identification verification phonelines and the long waits were good causes to support extending the hours, but that's up to the authorities in the local area to decide.

[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]
Looks like I made a minor mistake (none / 0) (#7)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:08:22 PM EST

A re-reading of the article does state what you claim. However, I still disagree with your conclusion that local laws should be allowed to prevent voters from casting their ballots. This issue is clear, do you side with arbitrary procedural laws which can prevent voters from voting at times, or do you side with a citizen's constitutional right to vote? That's the crux of this Op-Ed article.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Issue is Not Clear (4.00 / 3) (#13)
by acestus on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:21:59 PM EST

This issue is clear, do you side with arbitrary procedural laws which can prevent voters from voting at times, or do you side with a citizen's constitutional right to vote? That's the crux of this Op-Ed article.
No, the issue is not clear, because you're describing it in a muddy way. The fact is that states have their own right to run their elections the way that they choose. These are arbitrary, in the loosest definition of the word, but they are not decided on randomly. The states legislate these methods, and the states are doing so in accordance with the constitution.

The U.S. Constitution does not say citizens are entitled to vote at any time from midnight to midnight on election day. It says that the states will choose electors. Elections, even for federal positions, are local. Local laws should govern them.

This is not an exit.
[ Parent ]
Were Jim Crow laws also legitimate? (1.00 / 1) (#23)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:19:09 PM EST

Look, now we're getting to the heart of the matter. Consider Oregon, which allows for vote by mail and gives it's citizens plenty of time to vote. Nobody got excluded from their constitutional right to vote, yet the state will most probably go Bush. Fine. However, by arguing for strict procedural rules to trump individual citizen's voting rights you're also arguing for other exclusionary laws such as the South's Jim Crow laws of the past.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

fsck Jim Crow (4.66 / 3) (#36)
by 2fish on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 03:53:30 PM EST

Your constant comparison of perfectly rational and reasonable (yes, I have a differing opinion) voting procedures to "Jim Crow" laws is highly prejudicial, and as nearly as I can tell, you only use it to cloud the issue.

The Constitution never grants individual citizens a right to directly participate in the election of the President. Personally, I would like to see major reforms myself (a topic for a different post), but there simply are no "individual citizen's voting rights" for "strict procedural rules" to trump. Procedures of some type are neccessary for the election to be held. Your proposal does not do away with procedures, it merely changes them. As a matter of fact, your proposed changes would have worked to exclude black voters in the South as well as the "Jim Crow" laws you keep railing about. The overwhelming majority of blacks were illiterate, and it's pretty damned hard to vote for someone by mail if you can't read the ballot.

This probably comes off a little harsh, and I'm sorry about that, but I've been subjected to constant bulletins about the whiners in Palm Beach all day. To try to summarize all this rambling: I can respect your opinion that the current voting system needs to be reformed (I personally favor electronic voting, myself), but your constant referral to a highly controversial set of procedures that are totally irrelevant to the topic at hand makes you appear to be seeking thoughtless, knee-jerk support instead of seeking to convince others of your viewpoint through rational debate.
Give me liberty, or give me death!
[ Parent ]
Jim Crow and excluded women compare nicely (1.00 / 1) (#42)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 05:06:48 PM EST

Jim Crow laws most certainly existed, just as women were excluded from the vote. This is a historical fact which I bring up to compare with our current situation. I do not believe that bringing up their existence, or comparing the issue with our situation today, in any way suggests prejudice on my part.

The point is not about whether voters have a "direct participation" in voting a president into office. I've already stated that in many posts and in the general body of my text that I don't suggest we change the electoral voting laws for this election. So, whether citizens have a "direct participation", or are simply voting state wide for the most popular candidate in order to select electors is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

What IS RELEVANT is that a large chunk of people had their right to vote revoked by unnecessary procedural means. This is the issue. I posed a quick comment about the St. Louis Missouri issue on Slashdot and saw a response from someone who claimed that certain polls were kept open to those who showed up before 7pm while the ones contested did not under court order. This warps our electoral process and calls into question the entire vote there. In a close election we cannot stand for having partisans restrict citizen's votes, or we'll walk straight into a totalitarian regime. This is a constitutional crisis because voters were prevented from voting their conscience. Whether by bogus ballots in Florida, or by the legal sophistry of closing the polls at 7pm becasue that's the law, even with long lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots, it doesn't matter. If you care about the fundamentals, rather than the process, of our Democracy you must want any and every voter to cast his/her ballot.

The issue of what reforms to enact is a separate one, and worthy of yet another discussion.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Jim Crow, the Electoral College, and other rambles (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by 2fish on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 10:50:21 AM EST

Once again, "their right to vote" does not exist. By direct participation, I meant a chance to vote for the president in any fashion (I was including voting for electors, I should have been more clear). It is entirely Constitutional for the state legislatures to simply appoint any electors they want, without even polling the citizens of their states. In fact, the Constitution does not even go so far as to guarantee that citizens get to vote for the members of their state legislatures.

Back to the original thread of discussion, I think that bringing up an admittedly uneducated and/or bigoted former voting requirement is irrelevant. The current procedure(s) in question is(are) not aimed at removing a particular segment's so-called "right to vote". The procedure(s) in question do(es) nothing more than set down the time period during which the citizens may vote. Surely you admit that their must be a set period of time designated for voting? The closing time of the polls was well-known in advance (so far as I know, it has not been changed in years), so there wasn't even a conspiracy to reduce the voter turn-out. I don't see how this procedure in any way paralells Jim Crow laws or laws that allowed only men to vote, other than the fact that they are all procedures. As I pointed out, however, you have not advocated abolishing procedures altogether, you merely wish to implement a different set of procedures.

Give me liberty, or give me death!
[ Parent ]
Florida looks like a fraudulent election (none / 0) (#61)
by maynard on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 02:03:07 PM EST

Back to the original thread of discussion, I think that bringing up an admittedly uneducated and/or bigoted former voting requirement is irrelevant. The current procedure(s) in question is(are) not aimed at removing a particular segment's so-called "right to vote". The procedure(s) in question do(es) nothing more than set down the time period during which the citizens may vote. Surely you admit that their must be a set period of time designated for voting?
I think the critical issue here is whether the election commission provided enough polling resources to handle voter turnout. I agree that there must be some cuttoff time, however as I said in other posts I think the way Oregon uses mail in votes with a long stretch of time for voters to cast their ballots makes a whole bunch more sense than squeezing the election into one work day and then closing the polls an hour or two after most people get out of work. That's ridiculous.

Look, the point here is whether we arrange the voting system such that citizens must jump over hurdles to cast their ballots, or whether the system is skewed to make voting easy for citizens. Right now, we see a system terribly difficult for the average American and political parties which use this in order to shape election results in their favor. How can you call that democratic?

Regarding the Jim Crow issue: see this AP news wire story regarding voter irregularities within certain key Florida districts. One of the claims is that police checkpoints were set up in a predominantly African American community, and the police were stopping people and preventing them from voting. How can one not bring up Jim Crow laws given these kinds of allegations? Some of the more disturbing news of the day:

  • According to This feed story, former Mayor Xavier Suarez, whose previous election was overturned because of absentee ballot voter fraud is the head executive committee of the Miami-Dade Republican party. And if you cross reference that against the AP Newswire story of electoral irregularities for the reference to this; you'll note that some absentee ballotors are claiming they received TWO ballots.
  • According to this story, nearly 10,000 ballots were cast for a socialist/communist party member James Harris in one predominantly Democrat district. Interestingly, the man only received 20,000 votes nationwide.
  • Certain voters were refused ballots because they lacked two forms of identification. Completely illegal.
This is ballooning into far more than just the Palm Beach incident. I think we're looking at large scale voter fraud in Florida which was organized and planned in support of the Bush presidency. I'm shocked and dismayed at how partisanship is destroying the foundation of our democratic republic before our very eyes. It doesn't help that Bush continues to claim victory before the votes have been tallied, nor does it help that Gore is suggesting a legal action before the vote is completed either. We have a major constitutional mess on our hands, and if we allow EITHER party to concede defeat we'll have handed our democracy over to both parties and accepted fraud as an acceptable political weapon in American politics.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

A Communications Mixup? On to a rebuttal... (4.00 / 1) (#64)
by 2fish on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 05:16:31 PM EST

My last post was directed largely at the Missouri elections (where they elected a dead man, a patently ridiculous occurrence). I haven't done any research on the Florida issues you raise, since most of the firestorm has been over the Palm Beach County incident. That is another example of patently ridiculous whining by the Democrats.

This next statement is going to sound extremely cynical but I think it is justified. You worry that "we'll have... accepted fraud as an acceptable political weapon in American politics." I think it's a bit late to worry about that now. There has been extremely credible evidence of vote fraud in past elections (JFK winning Chicago comes to mind). If any side has a legitimate cause to worry about fraud, then Bush has as at least as good a case as Gore, maybe a better case. Gore has been intimately associated with a highly corrupt adminstration for 8 years, and was up to his neck in many of those illegal activities, by all indications. Now during the recount, Gore has gained approximately 1400 votes (admittedly not yet certified), a much larger number than Bush. I realize that this fact can be taken as an argument that Bush engaged in fraud first, or that Gore is engaged in it now, but Gore's reputation would seem to cast more of the shadow on him. I'm not sure I buy either argument, but if it you can use it to question one side you can use it to question the other. I realize that you did not do this in your reply, but I have heard others doing so over the course of the day.

Going solely on the articles you provided, the FEED and TomPaine.com articles raise interesting questions, but provide absolutely no proof to substantiate the allegations. The salon.com article is more in depth and I will cover the points it raises one at a time.

The Florida Highway Patrol found itself answering questions after troopers set up checkpoints about 2 miles from a polling area outside Tallahassee, in an area with many black voters.
I would like more information. However, 2 miles away seems to be an awful long distance if their intention was to intimidate potential voters.

Hispanic voters in Osceola County, in central Florida, alleged they were required to produce two forms of identification when one was required.
The key word here is alleged. I would like more information as to the type of ID required and the type that the voters first provided.
Voters in Osceola County said they too were confused by their ballots.
I think I have made my position very clear concerning people "confused" by the ballot.
Polls closed with people still in line in Tampa.
Get in line sooner.
And in Miami, the state's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People president, Adora Obi Nweze, said officials tried to deny her a ballot because they said she had been sent an absentee ballot. The civil rights leader said she never received the mailing and demanded to vote. She eventually was allowed to sign an affidavit swearing she had not previously voted and was given a ballot.
If their records indicated that the woman received an absentee ballot, they should not have allowed her to vote without the affidavit. They were preventing a potential case of election fraud.
Some election officials refused to allow translators into voting booths for Haitian-Americans in Miami.
Another case of a procedure intended to prevent vote fraud. No more than one person should be allowed to enter a voting booth, otherwise there is no way to prove which person cast the vote.
Voters were denied ballots on grounds that their precinct had changed.
This happens on a regular basis. If your precinct changes, you can't vote in the old precinct, you have to use the new precinct. Once again, this procedure is in place to PREVENT vote fraud.
Give me liberty, or give me death!
[ Parent ]
Voting irregularities (none / 0) (#71)
by efarq on Sat Nov 11, 2000 at 10:46:56 AM EST

Polls closed with people still in line in Tampa.

Get in line sooner.

I don't disagree with the rest of your contentions but this one strikes me as poor. While I recognize that the polls do have to close at a certain point, why should I be refused the opportunity to vote because the local election officials didn't make adequate provision for voter turnout, and I have consequently been waiting since well before the polls were scheduled for closure. Not everyone necessarily lives in a state where provision is made for time off to vote, nor do they work in the same neighborhood that they live in (so voting wouldn't be something that could be done over a lunch break).

[ Parent ]

Getting in line sooner (none / 0) (#88)
by 2fish on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 11:28:15 AM EST

If a voter feels that they will not be able to vote on Election Day, they are free to request an absentee ballot. As you admit, there must be a cut-off time, and it is publicized in advance. I don't like the idea of not being able to vote due to a local beauracrat's incompetence, but I realize that no system is perfect. Realizing this, I feel that a system of laws is far more desirable than a system in which one side can alter the outcome of the election by complaining after the fact. If they had a problem with it, they should have mentioned it before they lost the election. I voted by absentee ballot this year because I'm attending school about 200 miles from my voting district, but I had arrangements already made to take off of work and go to my designated polling place if the ballot did not reach me in time for me to be comfotable about it arriving in time. I have little sympathy for someone who only decides that the polls closed too early after the polls have closed and it turns out that the vote may have mattered (I don't know if this applies to you or not).
Give me liberty, or give me death!
[ Parent ]
PS:Voters in line were actually turned away [nt] (1.00 / 1) (#8)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:10:35 PM EST

. ..

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
No Re-Vote (3.38 / 13) (#9)
by Vygramul on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:16:08 PM EST

First of all, the constitution specifically makes it so that there ISN'T one man one vote. The electoral college makes it so that a vote in Wyoming is (currently) 1/70000 of an electoral vote, while a vote in Virginia is 1/130000 of an electoral vote. If you live in Wyoming, your vote is pretty close to as good as having two votes in Virginia.

Second, a re-vote would be as skewed as the first one, if not more so. Nader got 70000+ votes in Palmdale. How much do you want to bet he doesn't get HALF of this this time? Is that because of voter fraud?

In 1996, Buchanon got 2900 votes in the primary in Palmdale. It's reasonable to assume that he would get that many this time around.

Buchanon got .79% of the vote in Palmdale. If there's a problem with the ballot, it was certainly an amazingly miniscule one.

The DEMOCRATS designed the ballot. This can HARDLY be considered a nefarious Republican plot.

Lastly, there is NO hope of reforming the electoral college. To do so requires a constitutional amendment, and amendments need to be ratified by states, each state getting one vote. Washington DC, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Delaware would have to give up two of three electoral votes. Nevada, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Maine, and Idaho would give up two of four. Utah, Nebraska, West Virginia, and New Mexico lose two of five, and Kansas and Arkansas lose two of six. That's already 19 "no" votes to the amendment leaving 31 "yes" votes when you need 34 to pass. Even if a few of those went your way, some of the states with seven or eight would probably vote against it anyway.

The only way the electoral college will be scrapped is when vote-swapping is the difference in an election.
If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.

Re: No Re-Vote (4.00 / 2) (#45)
by analog on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 08:18:46 PM EST

The DEMOCRATS designed the ballot. This can HARDLY be considered a nefarious Republican plot.

Do you have a reference for this? As far as I have been able to find, it's simply not true. It is true that the ballot was approved by the county supervisor of elections, who happens to be a Democrat, but that is essentially meaningless unless you are willing to accept that a Democrat is less likely to approve a bad ballot than a Republican.

Lastly, there is NO hope of reforming the electoral college. To do so requires a constitutional amendment

This isn't true either. It would require a constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college, but it could be reformed in any number of ways without resorting to changing the Constitution; it would simply be up to each state to do so.

[ Parent ]

re: No Re-Vote (none / 0) (#96)
by Vygramul on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 12:51:01 PM EST

I saw an interview on CNN with the designer of the ballot, who is a democrat. She said the design was specifically done because they thought it'd be easier for the elderly to read. In hindsight, she regretted the design. Lastly, what reform of the electoral college could a state implement which wouldn't require an amendment, and would satisfy the "problem" people have with a popular vote candidate losing?
If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.
[ Parent ]
Sorry, (3.81 / 22) (#11)
by trhurler on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:20:50 PM EST

but until you both get your facts straight and quit making the whole election out to be a "vast right wing conspiracy," I'm just not interested in MORE election stories. In fact, I'm sick of them, and moreoever, I'm sick of the fact that everyone keeps trying to make his look "objective" and "impartial" while not-so-subtly showing that it is anything but; if you have a bias, fine, we all do, but just admit it and be done with it.

St. Louis was a local issue; the feds stayed out. You're just plain wrong there. The ballots in Florida with Buchanan on them before Gore are a bit odd, but there's nothing illegal about them; that's just sour grapes bullshit from people mad that their candidate lost. Guess what? My candidate lost too. That's life. Get over it. Quit whining about a nonexistent crisis. Get a real subject for a story. (And go ahead, rate this 1. It won't make you feel better, but you want to anyway:)

By the way, the electoral college serves a -very- important function, even in modern times. It makes small populations important to national politicians. Of course, you neither understand that nor want to; you're just pissed because your man lost, so hey, let's amend the Constitution, right? What a lame idea.

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

This has nothing to do with the right wing (2.50 / 4) (#16)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:32:03 PM EST

Look. I have NO problem with a Bush win, if it's absolute. I'm arguing about CIVIL RIGHTS here. If the Democrats pulled these stunts I'd argue the same in favor of the Republicans. This is NOT a partisan attact, it's a constitution issue between voter's constitutional rights and state rights to control the ballot.

Should Bush decisivly win, this election's issue is resolved. But we'll still have to resolve the issue of voters rights. How do we frame a balloting mechanism such that everyone who wishes to vote can do so without being excluded from the ballot on arbitary rules alone?

I think the Oregon example is good. They will go Bush almost definately, even though it looks like a completely honest election. Nobody in Oregon was excluded from their right to vote.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

I agree in principle (3.00 / 1) (#18)
by ribone on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:40:08 PM EST

I think you're right that we need to find a better way to do it. I also wish we could forego the whole media frenzy with updates every two minutes on who is the projected winner. Moving to a mail-in system is going to make the process longer, and as such, the whole media thing goes away. I like that idea. I just think most people are going to want whatever alternative there is to be faster, not slower.

As for rules... they are a necessity, whether you like it or not. Our electoral process wouldn't be worth squat without well defined procedures and rules to follow. The citizens should be expected to know and follow at least a small set of rules (i.e. ballot postmarked by such and such a day, can only mark on candidate per position, etc etc), which is why I don't sympathize with those people in Fla. They really should know the rules, and if they're not sure, they should have asked somebody.

[ Parent ]
Well, ok... (4.25 / 4) (#19)
by trhurler on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:40:37 PM EST

but in MO, the voting closes at 8pm. The law says your employer MUST give you three hours off to vote. Nobody has any excuse for not being able to get to the polls. Period. And, in Florida, while they may well want to reconsider their ballot design procedures, what we have is a bunch of old people who are so senile they can't manage to vote for only one candidate - these people shouldn't be voting if they can't follow simple directions, but if they're going to, then it is their responsibility to do it correctly, as opposed to someone elses' responsibility to dumb things down for them. It isn't as though an ordinary person of ordinary intelligence can't figure that ballot out with ease - a great many of them did just that. I'm not clear on where your crisis lies, and I have no sympathy for eliminating the electoral college; if that part of this is still interesting to you, please say so and I'll gladly write up an explanation of the details of my thought there:)

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

[ Parent ]
So, you're arguing in support of procedural rules (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:01:41 PM EST

OK. So we disagree. Now that the partisan issue is off the table, now we get to the meat of our disagreement -- which appears to be that you favor strict rules over constitutional intent. This is a fair opinion, which I consider completely wrong.

I think our democracy is hanging in the balance here because of over-adherence to such rules. This is the same problem with Clinton's legalistic parsing tricks, as well as any number of rules throughout our society. Jim Crow laws were real and enshrined in governmental legitimacy, but who today would come out in support of those kinds of laws?


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

There is no such battle between rules and intent (4.75 / 4) (#24)
by Redeemed on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:19:11 PM EST

I strongly disagree that there is any issue of strict rule over constitutional intent here. No matter how you make the rules up, there's going to be some way that people will screw up and will whine about it. At some point, you have to draw a line, so you might as well draw a line at the law. There were arrows to the punch holes for each individual candidate. There are laws that say polls close at a certain time of day. Everyone knows about them, everyone can very easily adhere to them unless they're irresonsible, and I have no sympathy for the irresponsible.

If we had electronic voting or mail-in votes, everyone would still complain. Someone would send in their ballot one hour, one day, even one week late, and you could argue that their intent was to get their vote in so it should count. Then what, we allow votes to come in until the next March? Where are you going to draw the cutoff line? That's why you follow the law. If you can't get into the polling place in time when it closes at 8pm, then darn it, get there before 7:30pm.

Same thing with the ballots with arrows. If you don't know what an arrow means, maybe you shouldn't be voting. Alternatively, if you aren't paying any attention to the ballot (and they sent out sample ballots, so this isn't something you haven't seen before, and this ballot was approved by "both parties", so Democrats have no room to complain about a ballot they approved), and you screw up, that's also your fault. Voting is a big deal, but it isn't the responsibility of the government to hold your hand through it when you're perfectly capable of figuring things out on your own if you just pay attention. Alternatively, if you're paying attention and don't know what an arrow means, I don't think you're qualified to select a president, either.

So your question of whether strict rules or intent matters is moot, in this case. There is no intent to be put into question here. There have to be cutoffs and rules, and if people refuse to understand them, they have no grounds on which to complain. As they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and the law is necessary. While this might not be a partisan issue for you, the people who are complaining about it are all Democrats who can't lose gracefully (even Nixon lost gracefully in his close race, even though he had grounds on which to contest it). And if Gore pulls ahead in the recount, all these suits will be dropped, I can guarantee you. Not to say, of course, that you're among these people, but as far as the issue pertains to real life, I think this does matter.

[ Parent ]
I couldn't agree more. (3.00 / 1) (#34)
by ribone on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 03:49:52 PM EST

Gore getting everybody from Jackson and Mfume to Warren Christopher involved is only going to make this more painful for everybody and more drawn out. There is no reason for this to become a circus. Oh wait, it's a little too late for that now, isn't it?

By the way, do both candidates really need to send representatives to oversee the recount? Doesn't the FEC need to be doing something about this? If they are, then both Bush and Gore should stay the hell out of it until it's finished. And as far as Gore approving a lawsuit regarding the disenfranchisement of Floridian voters, all I have to say is what a crock of shit....

Thank you, by the way, for mentioning the fact that whoever loses should do so gracefully, like Nixon.

[ Parent ]
Sentiments like this one nauseate me: (1.00 / 1) (#73)
by kjeldar on Sat Nov 11, 2000 at 04:39:50 PM EST

Same thing with the ballots with arrows. If you don't know what an arrow means, maybe you shouldn't be voting. Alternatively, if you aren't paying any attention to the ballot (and they sent out sample ballots, so this isn't something you haven't seen before, and this ballot was approved by "both parties", so Democrats have no room to complain about a ballot they approved), and you screw up, that's also your fault. Voting is a big deal, but it isn't the responsibility of the government to hold your hand through it when you're perfectly capable of figuring things out on your own if you just pay attention. Alternatively, if you're paying attention and don't know what an arrow means, I don't think you're qualified to select a president, either.

I've seen this attitude on K5 again and again, and frankly, I find it disgusting. If you think about it, I'm sure you'll figure out why I'm sickened when I see this poisonous meme again and again, and see nobody pointing out the inherent, hideous, purely arrogant elitism.

[ Parent ]

Any content for us? (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by Redeemed on Sun Nov 12, 2000 at 10:48:55 PM EST

If you're sickened, perhaps it would be helpful to provide some content in your message instead of mindlessly disagreeing and throwing in some adjectives to make this fact clear?

Listen, this is hardly elitism. It's a matter of adherance to procedure. In Palm Beach county was a pre-approved, fairly straightforward, and perfectly legal ballot. Some people may have screwed up on it, but that's just something that will happen everywhere. If you don't get it, you can ask for help. If you screw up, you can ask for a new ballot. There are other solutions to the problem, if there's really a problem at all, besides complaining about it after the fact.

There is a reason we have a voting procedure in this country, and that is, precicely, to prevent people from complaining after their candidate loses in order to sway things your way. I honestly do have sympathy for people who perhaps made a mistake, and my advice for them is to, next time, complain about it earlier or ask for help while they're voting. However, because they didn't get it at the time, and now they don't like it cuz their guy lost, they can't be allowed to have another go at it. There's no way to do such a thing so that the system can be fair. They'll just have to play by the rules.

[ Parent ]
If rules are the problem, (3.00 / 1) (#26)
by trhurler on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:35:25 PM EST

then which rules do you have a problem with? You have to have procedures and rules, because otherwise you can't deal with issues such as fraud. It is clear that the Constitution does not authorize direct presidential elections anyway; the original system was that states voted for president and the people had no direct influence. However, if we just ignore that little bit of reality in order to pursue your argument, how would you change things?

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

[ Parent ]
Reasonable changes (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:45:00 PM EST

OK, so let's presume this is after the Bush/Gore election, just to keep partisan issues aside. First, I would suport electronic or vote by mail changes, similar to what we see in Oregon. Many people I know simply can't take time off from work to vote, even though laws state that they have the right (I believe this depends from state to state, not sure). Second, I personally think it's time to abolish the electoral college and give the presendency to the popular vote. JMNSHO.

The truly important reforms would be to allow voting across a longer time span, and to allow for electronic voting so that we don't have discrepancies caused by problems with physical paper ballots.

I absolutely don't want to see the electoral college abolished for this election; that wouldn't be fair.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Electoral college (3.00 / 3) (#29)
by trhurler on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:49:52 PM EST

Abolishing it is a bad idea. If you do, then only one viewpoint counts - that of the largest voting bloc in the country. As it happens, that is senior citizens(well, AARP members, anyway.) This means that we're going to hvae nothing but Democrats until the end of time. But, with the EC, you can't rely on just the support of one big group, because, as one example, Missouri's rural residents REALLY DO count, because Missouri has 11 EC votes and they all go to the winner of the state. For another example, politicians pay a lot of attention to what people from Florida want. Do you think Florida would matter much compared to New York and California if it weren't for the EC? Nope. The EC is there to ensure that the presidential race is not a simple mob rule exercise with the winner being determined as whomever promises to give the most stolen money to the largest demographic that actually votes. That's important.

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

[ Parent ]
We disagree. But I respect your opinion. [nt] (2.50 / 2) (#31)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 02:35:03 PM EST

. ..

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
Distortion (4.50 / 2) (#35)
by ZanThrax on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 03:52:26 PM EST

Yeah, Missouri giving all 11 votes one way with a 50% +1 majority really empowers the voters who vote for the winner, but it screws the 50%-1 who voted the other way. And even moreso, it doesn't prevent candidates from ignoring states, it just changes slightly which states get ignored. All the college does is change most promises to largest national block to most promises to biggest 5 or 6 states.

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 ]

Disproven empirically:) (3.50 / 4) (#38)
by trhurler on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 04:14:44 PM EST

The candidates in this last election worked their butts off to win Missouri, which has 11 votes. Why? Because they both had a good chance of winning it. What actually happens is, California gets less attention despite having lots of people, because they're going to vote Democrat no matter what. New York the same. The areas where it is known what is going to happen, nobody cares. The places they spend time are the ones where they might actually change something, which is as it should be. Now, in Missouri, they couldn't just go to St. Louis and Kansas City. They had to go out and visit with farmers. Why? Because those farmers and their families and friends hold enough votes to have a real chance of deciding the state. Do you think those farmers would ever have even gotten -near- a presidential candidate without the EC? Of course not. It would be simpler and more effective to campaign in the cities.

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

[ Parent ]
Farmers worth more? (3.25 / 4) (#40)
by ZanThrax on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 04:34:39 PM EST

I just don't see why a farmers opinion should matter more than any other citizens. Why should small groups have their voting power artificially inflated, effectively reducing the power of other voters in other states? America is supposed to be based on the idea of all men being equal...

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 ]

I think you misunderstand what I mean (3.66 / 3) (#41)
by trhurler on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 04:41:56 PM EST

The candidates certainly campaigned in the cities too. The point is, they also campaigned out in the boondocks, which they would never do if they were directly elected. It is not fair that they should ignore the boonies just because the population density is lower, even though I'm a city kind of guy:) An even more striking example, albeit rather lopsided because the state votes so heavily Democratic, is Illinois, where despite over half the populatoin living in one metro area, rural people actually met and talked to Gore. He couldn't risk those people causing an upset even though he had the urban vote tied up, because if a third of half vote against him in the city and the other half vote against him overwhelmingly, he can lose. So, he actually went all over the state campaigning and listening to people.

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

[ Parent ]
Your idea taken further... (3.00 / 2) (#76)
by Miniluv on Sat Nov 11, 2000 at 05:58:11 PM EST

First off, I'm in favor of repealing the 12th amendmant and replacing it with a new system by which the popular vote determines the winner. Here's why:
1)The collar counties in Illinois vote republican traditionally, Chicago and it's 'burbs vote democrat. The collar counties rarely, if ever, actually count because of the majorities of population in other areas. The popular vote however gives them the same 1 in 216million voice as everyone else gets.
2)The major metro's do not in fact outnumber the rural citizens. Well, that actually depends on how you define Major Metro. Is Abilene, TX a major metro?
3)The electoral college was a compromise in the constitution over several issues, not the least of which was keeping the reigns of power held by a small group of people. 1 man 1 vote is a system that works on regional and local issues in the US, and in all sorts of contexts worldwide...yet we refuse to use it for just one position?
Also, to refute a small bit of what you said about how states vote:
1)California is not strictly democrat at a presidential level: 1976 Gerald Ford carried, 1980 Ronald Reagan, 1984 Ronald Reagan, 1988 George Bush carried, 1992 Bill Clinton, 1996 Bill Clinton. If you'd like keep going back and see how many times they've flip flopped.
2)The very argument that certain states DO traditionally go one way is an argument AGAINST the EC. Democrats in Texas have zero voice in recent history...how is this good? Any time Gore spent in Texas was completely wasted under our current system.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]
Some thoughts... (3.95 / 22) (#12)
by ribone on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:20:55 PM EST

I've been doing alot of thinking about this, as I'm sure everyone else here from the US has as well.

First of all, I think it is ridiculous that the Federal Election Commision doesn't have a template ballot for all districts to use. They should, as it would allow extensive tests for usability and standardization. We wouldn't be dealing with this West Palm Beach problem right now if this was the case.

Second: I've looked at that ballot from Palm Beach. Those people, IMHO, don't deserve a revote just because they couldn't figure it out. Everything is clearly labeled on the ballot. Why should the rest of the country have to wait because they didn't want to take the time to read what they were doing.

Third: I've heard people talk about people double punching ballots because they thought they had to vote for Vice President as well. Alright look, I have a breaking point, and this is pretty close. If you don't know how the voting process works, at least in this respect, screw off. Sorry, but I can't honestly stand up for somebody's right to vote when their logic says that they could have voted for Cheney and Gore at the same time.

Lastly, I'd like to wind this down by saying that it is unfortunate that people were unable to vote in many places; however, they had plenty of time to find out what the rules were for their particular area. If they didn't know them, I can't find very much sympathy in my heart for them. One of the largest problems in our country is that we haven't developed an intelligent, well informed, electorate that actively participates in the system. Unfortunately, it won't happen anytime soon. At least not while we have people believing that they shouldn't have to obey or be constrained by rules.

I know my opinion is probably very much in contrast to the general feeling amonst the rest of you. All I can say is that I personally am tired of people not being responsible enough to work with a system. They would rather just bitch about it until somebody comes and makes some more laws to further bog down our already failing system of representative gov't.

I'd further like to state that I don't really care too much who winds up in office, as they're both pretty much the same person (as noted by the Onion), but I'd really just rather not have this turn into a week/month/year long legal battle. Hearing about it for the past few days has been bad enough, but listening to it for any longer is unacceptable and unhealthy for our society.

State control (2.00 / 1) (#25)
by interiot on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:23:12 PM EST

I think it is ridiculous that the Federal Election Commision doesn't have a template ballot for all districts to use

Agreed, as long as the states and local districts have full authority to change it as they see fit. The US is a republic, and states get to decide how they choose their EC votes.

[ Parent ]

Florida Law (4.14 / 7) (#30)
by QuantumAbyss on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 02:10:17 PM EST

Second: I've looked at that ballot from Palm Beach. Those people, IMHO, don't deserve a revote just because they couldn't figure it out. Everything is clearly labeled on the ballot. Why should the rest of the country have to wait because they didn't want to take the time to read what they were doing.

By Florida Law they only have 5 minutes to get in and out (and there was a massive lack of staff). When you think a little bit more about who we're predominantly talking about - older people - you may realize that you are being a bit hard. Also the the ballot that was handed out for people to look at as a sample was not the same one that was used to vote. Between those two things I think that many people were confused, whether or not they were familiar with the voting process and whether or not they were intelligent.

Secondly, you seem to assume that because you are dumb you don't have as much of a right to vote. I don't agree with that, and neither does the constitution. People may be dyslexic (I am) or have any other number of impairments that cause them to move more slowly, especially if they are feeling flustered. Certainly, people should do a better job of educating themselves, and ultimately that is really what is to blame. But in a close election the difference shouldn't be caused by something as stupid as this. You may not see a difference between Bush and Gore, but a lot of people do. A lot of people who might be concerned about whether or not they will have the right to perform an abortion or any other number of things the supreme court could decide. I don't like this system any more than you do - and I am sick of this stuff too - but for now it is what we have.

Science is not the pursuit of truth, it is the quest for better approximations to a perception of reality.
- QA
[ Parent ]
actually... (1.50 / 4) (#43)
by marisa on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 05:08:12 PM EST

I've heard people talk about people double punching ballots because they thought they had to vote for Vice President as well. Alright look, I have a breaking point, and this is pretty close. If you don't know how the voting process works, at least in this respect, screw off.

years ago people did vote for the president and vice president separately. it is conceivable that most of the people claiming this remember those elections. either way, i'd hardly say "screw off" is appropriate.

"Physics is not a religion. If it were,
we'd have a much easier time raising money."
[ Parent ]

hmm.... (1.66 / 3) (#44)
by ribone on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 06:26:21 PM EST

so i guess they forgot how they've been voting for the last few years, huh? just exactly when did people vote in such a way? I honestly don't believe it is within the last two decades, to be sure... so you're saying then, that perhaps these people just kinda had a flashback to 1920 (assuming that that's how it was done then, of course) and then voted? If so, do you think they have the proper judgement to vote? I'm curious as to what your rationale would be.

Oh yes, "screw off" may not be appropriate, but then again, neither is this entire debacle. It is one of the most retarded developments within recent memory, and it isn't going to bring anything of value to our country to see a prolonged dispute over somebody's right to have the government tell them how to punch a paper card... If anything, it only shows how pathetic we are becoming, that we are willing to sacrifice our electoral process because people didn't take the time to carefully deliberate over their ballot. Yes, I know they only have five minutes by Florida law, but that is more than enough time, even for a person with glaucoma and a respirator.

[ Parent ]
conversation? i think not. (2.00 / 1) (#58)
by marisa on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 01:37:39 PM EST

listen, i was just creating discussion, i didn't mean to keep you guys up at night. i don't think that people intentionally voted for two people because they were confused. even as a gore voter, i don't think the democrats should push for another recount or support a lawsuit. i'll not state any more of my opinions for fear of inciting riots, and in the future i'll try to keep the devil's advocate playing to a minimum.

"Physics is not a religion. If it were,
we'd have a much easier time raising money."
[ Parent ]

I really must apologize (4.50 / 2) (#70)
by ribone on Sat Nov 11, 2000 at 12:04:09 AM EST

I've been glued to CNN for too long and have managed to waste a good amount of my time this week thinking about this stuff.

As a result, I snapped a bit when you originally replied to me. For that I apologize.

Please don't feel like you shouldn't share your thoughts with people on this site. You just have to understand that there may be someone out there, on edge, like me. :-) Now that I've gotten an abundance of quake in, I feel much better and don't think you'll have to deal with me biting your head off or anything...

Again, sorry to have lost it...

[ Parent ]
i so so understand (none / 0) (#77)
by marisa on Sat Nov 11, 2000 at 08:11:54 PM EST

i absolutely understand, i just recently yanked myself out of cnn-land as well. i think i owe you an apology in return, as i was already feeling a bit defensive (work is a battleground over this crap right now) and i expressed it with over-sensitivity. it's nice to see that i'm not the only one that gets wound up on occasion. besides, life would be boring without adversity. :)

"Physics is not a religion. If it were,
we'd have a much easier time raising money."
[ Parent ]

Um. No. (3.33 / 3) (#47)
by fluffy grue on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 09:10:22 PM EST

First of all, the vote was NEVER for president and vice president - it was that the president was the first place winner and the vice president was the runner up.

Secondly, I seriously doubt that the 150+-years-old demographic makes a noticeable dent in the vote count. (Things were changed back in the mid-1800s if memory serves, if even that recently - I remember quite clearly in a high school history class something to do with John Quincy Adams not getting along with his VP, and THAT's why they changed it).
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Not in constitution (3.78 / 14) (#14)
by interiot on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:23:35 PM EST

I could easily be wrong, but I've looked at it a few times in the past couple days, and I don't think the constitution originally said anything about the citizens voting. It now contains amendments that say that states can't decide to deny voting only on the basis of race, religion, slave status, gender, etc... But I think the states are still free to choose to not poll its citizens. Of course, no state would because all of its citizens would move to another state, and states aren't allowed to prevent interstate movement. Here's the scraps of info I've been able to find:

the Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 2-3

    Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress...

    The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed;...

    [it ONLY talks about electors, nothing else, and 'electors' means the elctoral college (same number as Congressional people), not the citizens]

National Constitution Center, Teacher Resources

    The Constitution as adopted in 1787 established the right to vote in national elections in Article 1, Section 1. However, it was silent on who could vote. Decisions about composition of the electorate were left up to the states. White men with property made up the vast majority of voters in the early days of the republic. As new states joined the republic, property qualifications persisted in the original states.

The American Electoral College, by Ellis Katz

    The Constitution authorizes each state to appoint its electors "in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct." In the first three presidential elections (1788, 1792 and 1796), state legislatures themselves chose the electors in most states. Thereafter, popular choice gradually took hold so that by 1832, electors were chosen by popular vote in all states except South Carolina, which clung to legislative election until 1864.

I do not contest the validity of electoral college (3.00 / 3) (#17)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:35:33 PM EST

I said this in the article, and in other posts. I do NOT contest the validity of states preventing voters from casting their ballots on procedural grounds alone, expecially during a heavily contested race with such slight margins.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Allow me to rephrase this... (2.33 / 3) (#20)
by maynard on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:56:01 PM EST

I am NOT suggesting we contest the validity of the electoral college in this election. I am contesting the validity of using procedural grounds to exclude voters in an election with such slim margins. The point of elections to to judge citizen's intent, and without a fair election our government will lose their consent to govern. Cynicism of politician runs rampant throughout society; how do you think those waitinb in line who were excluded from casting their ballots feel about democracy?


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Waiting in line (2.00 / 2) (#33)
by 2fish on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 03:30:09 PM EST

Maybe they feel like they should have gone to the polls earlier? Waiting until that late was a choice that they made with full knowledge of when the polls would close (if not, then I'm glad they didn't get to vote; if you can't remember when to go vote, I don't want you having any say in the appointment of someone who potentially holds immense power over my life). On top of that, I find the original story flawed: the charges involving Palm Beach county are spurious. That's the nicest thing I can say about them. They were designed by a local Democrat and were reviewed (with no complaints) before the election, for crying out loud.
Give me liberty, or give me death!
[ Parent ]
Fine (none / 0) (#95)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 09:00:56 AM EST

But you did say that the constitution said "one man, one vote". It doesn't, as the previous poster pointed out. It leaves the method of electing the president up to the state legislatures, and the method of selecting senators similarly. Only representatives are said to be elected, but by the "properly qualified electors of the state". I voted against this article in the first place for this reason, as I find it irritating that I know the wording and purpose of your conntry's constitution better than you do.

It was never the intent of the founders of the US to establish a democracy. They certainly left it as an option, but in fact they regarded the prospect of democracy as a threat, and much of the constitution is intended to protect against the consequences of unbridled democracy for the "men of best quality" (ie. themselves), and for the states.

There's a poll quoted by Chomsky in "Profit over People" in which the a majority of the American citizens questioned not only approved of the sentiment expressed in the phrase "from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs", but actually attributed it to the US Constitution. Its actually from the Communist Manifesto.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
States Rights and the Constitution (1.66 / 6) (#15)
by maddhatt on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 12:31:14 PM EST

I think that we need to research our oppinions here a little more, because it is the states right to poll the people that live within that state along with many other fields. Before looking to change the constitution look to see whether or not they federal government actually has rights to what you are looking to change, more often it is the state that has the power.

Thank you. (2.00 / 1) (#32)
by tweek on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 02:35:29 PM EST

The constitution circles around the fact that the states set the rules in places where the government does not and that the government should not infringe on that right. Washington DC does not know nor care about the fact that at a particular polling station is at a rush hour intersection that stays packed until 9pm thus the polling station needs to stay open till 10 PM. We *MUST* stop catering to the media, which is to what this boils down. The media says this election is proof that the Electoral College is a failure when it doesn't go the way they want (the media has ALWAYS been a Democrat safehaven.)

Some people call me crazy but I prefer to think of myself as freelance lunatic.
[ Parent ]
You're kidding, right? (4.16 / 6) (#46)
by analog on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 08:45:26 PM EST

the media has ALWAYS been a Democrat safehaven

Y'know, I hear this constantly, but I have yet to see any evidence of it. We're talking about the same media that went on a feeding frenzy for months over Monica Lewinsky, often carrying minor developments in that case as their lead story?

We're talking about the same media that repeatedly called Bill Clinton a draft dodger because he accepted a Rhodes scholarship (which made him exempt from the draft) instead of volunteering to go to Viet Nam, yet has completely ignored the fact that when G.W. Bush's student draft deferment expired he managed to get into the Air National Guard the same day he applied despite an 18 month long waiting list?

This is the same media that has gone on in excruciating detail about Clinton's waffling in the Lewinsky scandal, but doesn't report on the fact that GW himself admitted that he lied under oath during an investigation of corruption he was involved in while Governor of Texas?

The same media who gleefully repeat the Gore "invented the Internet" myth over and over while studiously ignoring what he actually said and the people involved who have verified that it is in fact correct?

You need to get over thinking that just because the media doesn't publish everything according to your (obviously biased) viewpoint that they must be in some group you dislike's back pocket. Let's remember here that just because there is no right wing conspiracy doesn't mean there is a left wing one.

As for why the media publishes what they do, you have only to look to whatever attracts the most advertising dollars; Democrat or Republican has nothing to do with it.

[ Parent ]

Well let's go based on this election (2.00 / 5) (#48)
by tweek on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 10:45:40 PM EST

Did you watch any of the returns tuesday night? Let's take NBC. Now this may be specific to Peter Jennings personal views but his body language, tone and choice of words spoke volumes about his political leanings. A good example is when refering to Bush winning a state the would simply say something along the lines of "Bush seems to have won in foo state" but when it was a Gore victory it was called as "Gore DEFEATS Bush in bar state." I'll recant my previous statement that they have ALWAYS been a Democrat safe haven but they make no pretense that they like the Democrats.
Some people call me crazy but I prefer to think of myself as freelance lunatic.
[ Parent ]
You don't always have to listen to the propaganda. (4.33 / 3) (#54)
by Narcischizm on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 10:50:43 AM EST

First, Tom Brokaw is the Lead NBC anchor. Peter Jennings is on ABC or CBS. Tom Brokaw is a Republican, if you've even glanced at either of his most recent books this fact is glaringly obvious. All of the lead anchors on Fox News, and more than half on MSNBC are also 'openly' republican, CNN as well, The McLaughlin Crew is always leaned towards conservatives, and John McL leans the show a little further to the right. William Krystal and George Will are extreme righties on the Sunday News show with Cokey Roberts and Sam Donaldson. The democrats also have Tim Russert, and at least half of the blank stare that is Jim Lehrer. woohoo.

Not exactly a scientific analysis of facts when you judge a persons body language, or the way he says something. Maybe he was just as surprised as the rest of us that Gore was actually winning states that traditionally leaned republican.

Republicans only think the press leans left when they don't report what they want them to report. If they don't cover semen on a dress its partisan press, if you cover Newt's infidelities, as a comparison to Clintons, its partisan press, but the same rules don't apply to democrats. If you question Prince George about his coke use or alcohol use, drunk driving arrest, or draft dodging, its partisan press. You need to quit listening to the crooks you voted for, because you've been bamboozled.

[ Parent ]
MLP (3.54 / 11) (#27)
by h0tr0d on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 01:43:15 PM EST

This article just seems appropriate to this discussion. Being informed is something that this community seems to pride itself on and yet I have been disappointed time and again at the lack of accurate information regarding the elections. The article talks about the electoral college and it's purpose and usefullness. Something that I think many of us need to thoughtfully read and check our previous perceptions at the door. Too many of the political discussions here at K5 are based on emotions and biased media information. Please, be informed. Read things that don't come from the mass media and do it with an open mind. Because if you don't open up your mind, then there is no point.

-- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.

More MLP (3.00 / 1) (#86)
by claudius on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 10:03:06 AM EST

While we are on the subject of link propagation and being informed, I'd like to suggest this link, where one can read firsthand experiences of a candidate in Dade County, Florida. The first five chapters of the candidate's and his brother's book are presented, and details are provided on how the election results were manipulated and even fraudulently predetermined by the media at the time. An FBI investigation apparently was launched on the matter, but no charges were brought. While the book has a decidedly "conspiracy theory" tenor, it certainly provides food for thought given that the same Florida election system is now selecting the next U.S. President.

[ Parent ]
Reforms to the electoral process (1.80 / 5) (#37)
by 2fish on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 04:02:17 PM EST

I haven't seen any other posts on this (I'm probably missing it in the wealth of different threads on the same general topic), so here goes: What is the general consensus on the manner originally used to select Presidents and Vice Presidents? I'm referring specifically to the fact that in the beginning, before the current two-party system and its primaries gained supremacy, there was a general election and the candidate with the largest number of (electoral) votes became President, while the runner-up became Vice-President. I'm fairly sure that it was a bit more complex than that, but I don't have the exact details at hand.

Give me liberty, or give me death!
Pitfall of the Old Way (none / 0) (#80)
by davidduncanscott on Sun Nov 12, 2000 at 09:45:48 AM EST

A system that always reminds me of a (spelling, anyone?) tontime, those agreements that a group will pool a large sum of money, and the last survivor gets it all. They're outlawed in most places because there's such an obvious incentive to murder once it's down to two or three survivors.

I mean, picture it -- the man you loathe and despise and campaigned against with all your heart wins, and you're put in office right next to him, a heartbeat away, as they say...wouldn't you start dreaming about an "accident"?

Of course, George Bush the Elder must have known something of this feeling when he stood next to Ronald Reagan.

[ Parent ]

I don't believe in accidents (none / 0) (#98)
by 2fish on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 03:00:13 PM EST

You raise a good point, but I can't yet bring myself to worry about a situation like that; give me a few months:) Although I've seen little in recent times to bear this hope out, I would hope that anyone elected to that high office had more integrity than that. Despite the precedent set by our current Liar in Chief, I don't think that anyone could bear to have a murderer ensconced in the White House. Of course, the last sparks of optimism are dying within me, so I reserve the right to recant this statement.

Give me liberty, or give me death!
[ Parent ]
Probability of Murder (none / 0) (#101)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 09:33:36 AM EST

Well, of course I would hope that they'd have more integrity than that as well. Hell, I'd hope that my next-door neighbor had more integrity than that, never mind the Vice-President.

On the other hand, I think we have done ourselves a disservice in recent years by concentrating on the petty crimes of our candidates. We seem to feel that it's enough to examine things like their personal finances, forgetting that their idealism can be much more dangerous. Imagine one A. Hitler running in America now: he lived quite modestly, apparently slept alone, and didn't use alcohol, cocaine, or marijuana -- to much of the press and public, he might be indistinguishable from Ralph Nader. (Well, OK, they look for "racist remarks" too, and I suppose they would have caught him on that, but I think you can see my point).

Could a Vice-President kill if he thought it were for the good of the country? Any man willing to accept responsibility for The Button has already answered that question.

[ Parent ]

This went out of fashion in 1800. (none / 0) (#87)
by claudius on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 11:27:13 AM EST

What is the general consensus on the manner originally used to select Presidents and Vice Presidents? I'm referring specifically to the fact that in the beginning, before the current two-party system and its primaries gained supremacy, there was a general election and the candidate with the largest number of (electoral) votes became President, while the runner-up became Vice-President.

The practical issue of concern with the original process is how to handle ties, viz. the election of 1800 where the U.S. faced a very serious constitutional crisis due to this system. 1800 was the first election with strong political parties and, IIRC, the first where candidates ran on a ticket. Jefferson and Burr ran as President/Vice President for the Democratic Republicans. They won the election with 73 electoral votes apiece, and Adams and Pinckney came in second with 65. Unfortunately, according to the Constitution this result was considered a tie, which meant that the House of Representatives would decide the winner, a vote which would have gone to Adams (despite his having fewer electoral votes) if not for some 11th hour political legerdemain on the part of Jefferson. For this very reason one of the earliest amendments (11th or 12th--I've forgotten which) stipulates that the balloting for President and Vice President are to be separate--no tie-breaking crisis at the expense of giving the Executive branch slightly more power (the Vice-Presidential tie-break vote in the Senate now more frequently aligns with the President's wishes than it did prior to the change).

[ Parent ]

A vital component (none / 0) (#97)
by 2fish on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 02:50:09 PM EST

I'm not really advocating a return to the exact system used before, just musing about a way to dilute the power of the government. I, like many others here on k5, dislike the current system in which the monolithic, centralized national government reigns supreme. This idea is just one of the many that I've contemplated when thinking about a way to rectify the situation. If the President and the Vice-President disagreed constantly, it seems to me that the national government would intrude much less on the daily lives of U.S. citizens.

One vital component of a return to this type of system would be a requirement that there be no "tickets"; all the Presidential candidates would compete against one another. Also, having a wide-open pool of potential candidates from which the electors must choose would most likely lead to a day in which NO candidate had an electoral majority. Therefore, a return to this type of system would also include a stipulation that a candidate need only garner an electoral plurality in order to be declared the winner.

Thanks for the background info. I didn't have the details concerning the demise of the previous system, and I was hoping someone could fill me in. I guess I'm turning into something of a history buff in my dotage:)

Give me liberty, or give me death!
[ Parent ]
Friction with the Veep (none / 0) (#100)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Nov 15, 2000 at 09:04:05 AM EST

If the President and Vice-president disagreed constantly, most people wouldn't care. After all, the veep's only real legal duties are to break ties in the Senate and be there if the President drops dead, and neither happens all that often. Everything after that is entirely at the discretion of the boss.

Most of the time the veep could be a cardboard cutout (<insert Gore joke here>) and nobody would notice the difference. He has almost no authority of his own.

[ Parent ]

RE: Friction with the Veep (none / 0) (#102)
by 2fish on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 09:34:16 AM EST

While I don't disagree that most people wouldn't care, I think that the following statement is misleading.

He has almost no authority of his own.
If the VP has to break a tie in the Senate, it's probably important and/or controversial legislation, so I think that is a very important chunk of authority. Beyond that, however, the Pres. usually designates a specific area of policy that his VP will attempt to manage. In Gore's case, this was our policy toward Russia. Gore then proceeded to sign agreements with his Russian counterpart promising NOT to enforce U.S. laws that require trade sanctions in response to Russia's sale of nuclear technology to Iran. If the VP held ideologically opposing views from the President, the most likely outcome is that the President just wouldn't delegate anything he considers important, thereby reducing his opportunity to legislate our lives through the wonders of "Executive Orders". To me, this is a Good Thing™.


Give me liberty, or give me death!
[ Parent ]
To turn this into a technology question... (2.71 / 7) (#39)
by Philipp on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 04:29:41 PM EST

I always wondered about these mysterios voting machines that you guys seem to have in the US. In good ol' Germany we have pen and paper. Everybody knows how to use them, so I never heard complaints about them.

Since most people are not able to program their VCRs, why put up such a threshold for voting? I does not seem to be more cost effective either, since voting is such a rare occurrence and these machines cost money why pens are pretty cheap.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'

the swedish system (3.00 / 1) (#49)
by boxed on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 03:49:17 AM EST

In sweden we have a system where there is one piece of paper for each party instead of one with all parties on it as is the case in the US. With a system such as the swedish I believe what happened in florida couldn't happen.

[ Parent ]
Wow... (2.00 / 1) (#50)
by plastik55 on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 04:30:53 AM EST

If I wanted to vote for, say, a Libertarian for local office and a Democrat for some other office, and so on, I could see it getting real confusing real fast. It would be confusing in a different way than the Palm county ballots were, sure, but it would still be confusing, especially if (as is often the case) not every party runs a candidate for every position.

I still think the system that most American counties use is better--Under each office list all the candidates that are running for that office. The Palm Couny confusion, I think, is a fluke.
[ Parent ]

In the Netherlands... (none / 0) (#59)
by JungleJim on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 01:58:18 PM EST

In the Netherlands there are separate elections (on different dates) for different offices. So, no confusion there. Most voting is done electronically: there's a big board with buttons, arranged in columns for the different parties, and in each column the candidates of the party, the 'most important' one at the top row. When you vote, you present yourself at a desk, a person checks your id and marks your number in a book. Then you proceed to the booth, and press the button of your choice. The candidate lights up, and all that's left is to press the 'confirm' button. I don't think it can get any simpler than this...

[ Parent ]
I've never seen a voting machine... (none / 0) (#69)
by byoon on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 09:17:30 PM EST

And I live in the U.S. In Nebraska to be precise. When I voted Tuesday afternoon I was given a ballot and a pencil and I had to mark the circle next to my choice just like I was taking a multiple choice test in college. Voting machines, the way they are described, sound rather 19th century to me anyway. Having to punch out holes leaves a lot more room for error, it seems to me and anyway, I've never seen a scan-tron machine screw up grading a batch of bubble sheets from a freshman econ exam so I'm sure that method would work much better for counting votes.
"I'm a going to break you down into the little cubes." -Picasso
[ Parent ]
Maybe local re-election is wrong; national runoff? (2.25 / 8) (#52)
by maynard on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 09:40:16 AM EST

I've been thinking that maybe re-running the election in those contested districts might not make sense. The Republicans are right to argue that this would unfairly give a very small number of voters too much power over selecting the president, and would be biased toward Gore. This is honestly unfair to Bush.

I now personally think the best solution is a national run-off election between just Bush and Gore. This would remove the taint of double balloting in one particular district while at the same time offering either candidate a real mandate whoever might win. It's not possible to predict the winner in this scenario, and every American gets his/her ballot counted.

I believe we must resolve the issue of disenfranchised voters above and beyond who wins the election. Voter's rights are, IMO, far more important than who wins.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

Runoffs are decided by Congress (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by shook on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 01:32:56 PM EST

There is nothing in the Constitution dealing with this. Usually, when people sue over election returns, the only thing courts will do is throw out tainted ballots. The most extreme thing I can see happening is the Supreme Court throwing out the entire state of Florida. Then, because neither candidate would have the 270 electoral votes, the Constitution says the runoff must be decided by the House of Representatives. A re-vote by the people is generally looked upon as a BAD idea.

Reprising your point, if Palm Beach County residents are allowed to enter the polls KNOWING that they, and they alone, are deciding the president, it would not just be unfair to Bush, it would be unfair to the entire voting populace. I would find this enormous post-election conferrence of power to Floridians to be an appaling assault on my rights as a voter.

[ Parent ]

Revote unconstitutional (1.50 / 2) (#67)
by Doug Loss on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 07:47:59 PM EST

The US Constitution says (Article II, Section I, Clause 4) that selection of presidential electors will be done on the same day throughout the United States. By law (from 1854) that day is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. To revote for president, Congress would have to change that law. For just one state to revote, the Constitution would have to be amended. Ot's not gonna happen.

[ Parent ]
Revote unconstitutional (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by Doug Loss on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 07:48:07 PM EST

The US Constitution says (Article II, Section I, Clause 4) that selection of presidential electors will be done on the same day throughout the United States. By law (from 1854) that day is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. To revote for president, Congress would have to change that law. For just one state to revote, the Constitution would have to be amended. It's not gonna happen.

[ Parent ]
Article II, Section I, Clause 4 (none / 0) (#89)
by opus on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 01:07:45 PM EST

I assume you're referring to this:

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.

The Constitution is a bit ambiguous here, but it seems to me that by "which day shall be the same" it's referring to the day that the electors submit their votes for president. There's nothing in the Constitution that requires the selection of electors be made on the same day in each state. (If it were, absentee voting, early voting, and voting by mail would be unconstitutional in presidential elections.)

[ Parent ]

if Florida does not send electors... (3.00 / 2) (#90)
by opus on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 01:16:24 PM EST

Actually, if Florida does not send electors, the election will go to whoever has the majority of actual electors. As of now, that would be Gore.

The Constitution requires that the election be determined by a "majority of the whole number of electors appointed".

If Florida's ballots were thrown out, there would be fewer appointed electors.

[ Parent ]
What a mess (3.00 / 4) (#55)
by hardburn on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 12:54:07 PM EST

I think that its plausable that whomever loses Florida will contest it in court. It could be draged out for months, well passed the point where the US was supposed to have a new president.

This means that whomever wins will have to tread carefuly. All those rants about a Bush victory being a "disaster" (as if it would be so much worse then a Gore victory) have become a moot point because once Bush (or Gore) do anything even remotely resembling a disaster-senario it will cause all those moderate voters to defect. I think both sides know this quite well and is a thorn in their collective sides.

The supreme court justices may be somewhat problematic, but I doubt it. They'll have to find uber-moderate justices or the choices will be rejected by congress (which is split down the middle) and by the people (who will kick the pres out come '04).

Durring the Eisenhower (sp?) administration, there was a seat open on the supreme court. Eisenhower went out to find the most conservitive guy he could find. He found a justice from California (oddly enough) and put him in. As soon as he was in the supreme court, the guy changed from way-right to way-left. He was instremental in increasing the power of the supreme court and in many civil rights cases.

Given, I doubt that will happen again, but its intresting in any case.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

um, HELLO? "one man one vote"?? (2.85 / 7) (#56)
by washort on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 01:28:56 PM EST

Which of the Founders came up with that phrase? I can assure you that it is neither in the Articles of Confederation or the Constitution.

In fact the Founders never expected the President to be chosen by popular vote at all. See this article for an explanation.

The Warren Court (none / 0) (#92)
by Shanoyu on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 01:42:27 PM EST

I believe it was not the founders who came up with that phrase, but rather the Warren Court in their famous "One Man, One Vote" decisions. Of course, I could be mistaken, but I believe that for the pourposes of feasibility it was actually one man with a vote weighted no more than 1.6 of the least weighted vote and/or no less than .85 of the most weighted vote, however the more conservative Burger court revised this to something like 12% difference maximums between voting districts.

Once again, I could be mistaken.

[ Parent ]
Actually, what happened was against the law (2.40 / 5) (#60)
by CentrX on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 01:59:31 PM EST

Florida law says the the ballots cannot be made in the way that they were made. These were the ballots that caused the confusion about who was being voted for. Florida law also says that anyone in line at the polls when the polls closed has a right to vote, that they would not be turned away.
-- "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." - Thomas Jefferson
if you'd read the law (3.50 / 6) (#62)
by sallgeud on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 02:30:12 PM EST

The law stating that the checks must be on the right side of the names only applies to hand marked ballots. Electornic ballots do not have this same restriction.

As a citizen of Missouri... I can also assure you that NOBODY was turned away at 7PM CST... and only those who got in line after 7 were turned away...

[ Parent ]
And amusingly enough... (1.50 / 2) (#63)
by simmons75 on Fri Nov 10, 2000 at 02:49:43 PM EST

the Bush camp feels the need to state that the Gore team is just getting mired down in partisan politics, that it's time to set aside differences and just let the results speak for themselves...and besides, it was a Democrat who approved the ballot.

And besides, the Bush people will just pursue violations in other states if the Gore camp doesn't drop it. ;-) (Trying to cover something in GWB's brother's state?)
So there.

[ Parent ]
The Ballots in Palm Beach, et al (2.33 / 3) (#72)
by zforce on Sat Nov 11, 2000 at 11:36:08 AM EST

First, I would like to say here in St. Louis County, Missouri we had the same exact ballot they had in Palm Beach. There was no confusion. Now, regarding the so-called 20,000 thrown out ballots. It's BULL! The 20,000 ballots INCLUDE people who discarded their ballots to get new ones.
Let me illustrate, Suzie Oldtymer goes and votes. Suddenly, she realizes she checked the wrong hole. So she checks another hole to invalidate her ballot and requests a new one. That ballot that Suzie Oldtymer had discarded is INCLUDED in the 20,000 ballot number.
Now, regarding the votes for Buchanan. While they do seem a little bit high, Buchanan did receive 8,000 votes in the primaries of that county. So is it really that totally unfeasible for him to get 3,000 in the election? Because it was only %1 it seems to nearly reflect the entire nation. Remember when looking at the number that Palm beach, from what numbers I have seen is the largest county in Florida(Some Floridian correct me if I'm wrong, please).
Now -- no I'm not done, -- regarding the recounts in selected counties. Oh yes, it sounds so nice. We'll had recount these high-density counties just to make sure we get every single vote. Reality check, please. First, human bias and misstakes is going to eleminate less accuracy that we could achieve with the machines. Further, if you only recount the extremely democratic, high-density areas by hand you're going to only discover more votes at the same ratio. That is, assuming that republicans and democratics have equally stupid demographics that cannot punch the ballots properly. Given this information, the only way you could achieve any degree of accuracy in a hand-count would be hand-count the ENTIRE state. But, doing this would make the results LESS accurate. *sigh*
Okay, my rant is over.

Buchanan numbers... (1.50 / 2) (#75)
by Miniluv on Sat Nov 11, 2000 at 05:28:11 PM EST

Actually, he received what appears to statistically be an anomolously high number of votes, especially when taken in conjunction with sworn statements of voters who believe they voted incorrectly.
He received approximately 3 times as many votes in that county as in any of the surrounding counties composed of similar demographic and political makeup.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]
Wow, you're just wrong. (1.00 / 1) (#91)
by Shanoyu on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 01:27:11 PM EST


The ballot that Suzie Oldtimer submitted is not included in that number because there were other (local) races on the ballot, so Ms. Oldtimer could not have completely invalidated her ballot by punching two holes for the presidental election. The Ballot would most likely have been handed to the poll worker and disposed of in a large trashfire, and Ms. Oldtimer would have recieved a new, clean, pristine ballot. Unfortunately there was a 5 minute rule that voters were only allowed to spend 5 minutes at the polls, which prevented this in some cases. Personally I don't understand why voting has to be like the lightning round of a gameshow, but whatever.

[ Parent ]
the rule of law (4.26 / 15) (#74)
by mattw on Sat Nov 11, 2000 at 05:02:05 PM EST

I think it is partisan and divisive to claim that Bush/Cheney are trying to blatantly disenfranchise 20,000 voters. Part of our election system is that to cast a vote, you have to show up and punch/fill a ballot. If you can't follow the rules, you can't have a say; we won't allow the 50% of the people who didn't vote just show up now and say, 'Hey, you know, I want to cast a vote!' By the same token, we can't just keep having elections because some people failed to follow the law and the rules and now don't like the result.

Using the phrase, 'excluding voters from the ballot' implies that they were somehow disqualified. They weren't. They simply failed to vote properly. We have a voting mechanism. They did not follow it. Just as people showing up a day late are denied the opportunity to vote, so are those who fail to properly fill out a ballot card.

This could be disenfranchisement, if the ballot was confusing. However, we have to consider 2 things: 20,000 voting failures out of 6 million votes cast means that 99.6% of all the people voting had not problem; and there were over 15,000 votes miscast in the 1996 election, so this is hardly a new phenomenon. People make errors voting; we have to disqualify those ballots. They could have double-checked their ballots; clearly, if they are capable of 'realizing' they voted improperly later and saying so to the press, they could have re-read the ballot before they placed it in the box, realized they'd erred, and gotten a new one.

Then there's the St.Louis issue. Again, we're back to the rule of law. If we arbitrarily change the rules of the night of the election, we can't possibly determine the effects. Imagine what would have changed had we opened the election for extra time in Utah, or Texas? The whole popular vote could have fallen heavily into Bush's favor. But there are times to vote, and absentee voting for those with concerns about making the vote in person during voting hours. It does concern me that voters showed up and were unable to cast a vote. However, this is an issue to be addressed in St Louis by fixing their system, not by the courts overruling the law in the 11th hour.

You describe the law as, 'Arbitrary rule-making' overriding the 'constitutional intent'. Yet the law is not arbitrary; the ballot was designed by a democrat; approved by both parties. If there was no recourse in this system, there might be a major issue here, but getting up in arms, after the fact, when the end result of double-punched ballots is only marginally different from 4 years ago, is merely opportunism. It is human nature to consider the if-only's of anything, and it is unsurprising that Gore and his supporters have been thinking along the lines of if-only, in Florida, where they were so close to victory.

Fundamentally, this issue is one for a Florida court to decide. The question at stake: was the ballot legally designed? The indicators seem to point to yes. While Florida law requires the checkboxes to be to the right of a candidates name on a paper ballot, it allows more leeway on a mechanically-punched ballot, and the results of the voting are not exceptional when compared to 4 years ago.

There are certainly a lot of American rights challenged and oppressed by the government. As a libertarian (I voted for Browne), I'm concerned about some of the same things -- such as the effect of the drug war on our 4th amendment rights. However, where's the uproar over the 9th and 10th amendment? The federal government violates the 10th amendment constantly.

Still, looking at Florida as a constitutional crisis is off; it is a question of law, and certainly is not disenfranchisement. No one was denied a chance to vote; if we revoted every time someone claimed their vote was in error, we'd never elect anyone.

[Scrapbooking Supplies]
well put (none / 0) (#78)
by eries on Sun Nov 12, 2000 at 01:31:18 AM EST

nice reply, thanks.
Promoting open-source OO code reuse on the web: the Enzyme open-source project
[ Parent ]
However... (4.00 / 1) (#85)
by pb on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 09:21:03 AM EST

When the margin of error in the voting process is more than enough to decide the election, there's no guarantee that we can pick the right candidate for president. (read: the one that should have been elected by the vote)

Therefore, I, and any non-biased, intelligent six-year-old child, would say that it's time for a do-over!

...but we'd all much rather sue each other instead. Go figure.
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
If 3 recounts are different which count to use? (4.00 / 2) (#93)
by Mantrid on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 03:09:59 PM EST

If they do a recount, and are really concerned with getting an accurate total, and all three counts are different, what is done? How can you say which count is the most accurate? Do you average them? Count them again until you get the same number of ballots? What is the percentage tolerance?

Interesting Election FAQ (2.75 / 4) (#94)
by maynard on Mon Nov 13, 2000 at 11:05:31 PM EST

I swiped this from a post by wildmage in a story that's about to be killed. I've personally read many of these accounts in the various press reports the original author references and I personally attest to their having existed. After placing it in emacs to remove unnecessary newlines I provide the post in verbatim:


[This draft #4 was prepared by Rich Cowan (rcowan@lesley.edu) with help from Paul Rosenberg, Dan Kohn, Jonathan Prince, Marc Sobel, subscribers to the Red Rock Eater News Service and the electronic mail discussion florida-recount-discuss@egroups.com, and the Yale Law School Student Campaign for a Legal Election, 127 Wall Street New Haven, CT 06511 -- spin@pantheon.yale.edu]

1) Myth: Al Gore has a responsibility to concede the election.

Fact: A 330 vote margin out of 6 million votes cast in Florida is incredibly close! It is roughly equivalent to a 1-vote margin in a city with 40,000 people and 18,000 voters.

It is extremely rare for an election this close NOT to be contested for several weeks until a manual recount can take place, with observers from both sides taking part and inspecting ballots. This kind of detailed recount has not yet taken place.

According to the US Constitution and the Laws of Florida, it is the responsibility of officials in Florida to certify the election results. November 17 is the deadline for absentee ballots sent from overseas to arrive. Since the election is close enough in Florida, Oregon, and New Mexico to be affected by absentee ballots, the results in those states cannot be certified before that date.

2) Myth: the number of "spoiled ballots" in Palm Beach County was typical. In a press briefing televised live on all networks on 11/9/00, Karl Rove of the Bush campaign compared the 14,872 invalidated ballots in the 1996 Presidential race to 19,120 ballots for President that were spoiled in this election.

Fact: the Bush campaign was comparing apples and oranges. There were actually 29,702 invalidated ballots this year in Palm Beach County. This is almost twice the number in 1996. "19,120" refers to only those 2000 ballots which were thrown out for voting for two Presidential candidates. The remaining 10,582 ballots had no choice recorded for President.

According to the Palm Beach County elections office (www.pbcelections.org), voters this year were not confused at all by the rest of the ballot. For example, less than 1% of U.S. Senate votes were invalidated because of multiple punches, compared with over 4% in the Presidential contest.

3) Myth: The Palm Beach ballot is definitely illegal due to the presence of punch holes to the left of some of the candidates.

Fact: According to the Secretary of State's office, there is a loophole in Florida law that may allow ballots used for voting machines to deviate from the rules governing paper ballots. This view has been contested by hundreds of Florida voters. The final decision on the legality of the ballot is likely to be made in court, as long as this issue could have an effect on the election.

It is possible that the ballot could be ruled illegal on other grounds, such as the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act.

4) Myth: "The more often ballots are recounted, especially by hand, the more likely it is that human errors, like lost ballots and other risks, will be introduced. This frustrates the very reason why we have moved from hand counting to machine counting." -- Former Sec. of State James Baker, speaking on behalf of the Bush campaign at a press briefing televised by all networks on 11/10/00.

Fact: In 1997, George W. Bush signed into law a bill stating that hand recounts were the preferred method in a close election in Texas. The bill, "HB 330", mandated that representatives of all parties be present to prevent fraud.

Laws establishing rights and procedures for hand recounts also exist in Florida (see Title IX, Chapter 102). In fact, the Orlando Sentinel, (orlandosentinel.com) reported that a partial hand count of Presidential ballots this year was ordered by Republicans in Seminole County, where Bush led Gore. This count took place on 11/9 and11/10, widening Bush's lead by 98 votes. The Bush campaign did not complain about this hand count; nor did it complain about the hand count on 11/11/00 which put Bush slightly ahead of Gore in New Mexico.

There do exist machine voting systems which are fairly accurate, but antiquated punch card systems are notoriously inaccurate. They were outlawed in Massachusetts in 1997 by Secretary of StateWilliam Galvin after a Congressional primary that was also "too close to call". The problem is that if the punched-out pieces of cardboard are not completely removed from the punch card, they can obstruct the card reader and the votes will not be counted. A manual recount of such cards can clearly reveal the voter's intentions.

5) Myth: The process is unfair because hand recounts were held only in liberal areas of Florida, where Gore stands to pick up the most votes.

Fact: It is true that a statewide recount would be more fair, and the Bush campaign has every right to request one. According to Florida law, hand recount requests must come from the campaigns, not from the state. To fail to request what is commonly referred to as a "defensive recount" in conservative areas of Florida, they may be making a tactical blunder that will cost them the election.

It is also true that there were voting irregularities in the counties where the Gore campaign requested recounts.

6) Myth: "Palm Beach County is a Pat Buchanan stronghold and that's why Pat Buchanan received 3407 votes there. According to the Florida Department of State, 16,695 voters in Palm Beach County are registered to the Independent Party, the Reform Party, or the American Reform Party, an increase of 110% since the 1996 presidential election" -- Ari Fleischer of the Bush Campaign, 11/9/00. The 2,000 votes received by the Reform party candidate for Congress indicate that party's strength in Palm Beach County (James Baker on Meet the Press, 11/12/00).

Fact: Of those 16,695 voters, only 337 (2 percent) are in the Reform Party according to Florida state records. The Reform party candidate for Congress, John McGuire, is connected to a more centrist wing of the Reform Party, predating Buchanan's involvement. An analysis of his support indicates that it came largely from reform-minded Ralph Nader voters.

Regarding Buchanan's vote total, the Washington Post reported that his vote percentage in Palm Beach county was four times as high at the polls as in absentee voting. Even Buchanan himself admitted on 11/8/00 on the Today Show that many of his votes actually "belonged to Al Gore". So did his campaign manager, Bay Buchanan.

7) Myth: If Gore (or Bush) ends up winning the popular vote, he really should win the election even if he loses Florida and other states.

Fact: This is not the way the U.S. Constitution is written. The Electoral College decision, imperfect as it may be, is the only one that matters. It may be possible to reform or eliminate the electoral college in the future, so that small states would no longer receive extra electoral votes out of proportion to their population. But until this change is made by Constitutional amendment, the Electoral College is still the law of the land.

8) Myth: The Cook County, Illinois ballot from the home district of Gore campaign chair Richard Daley is similar to the "butterfly" ballot used in Palm Beach County (reported by Don Evans, 11/8/00)

Fact: According to the Chicago Daily Herald on 11/10/00, the ballots in Chicago which had "facing pages" were referendum questions which only had two punch holes, Yes and No.

9) Myth: The election process in Florida outside of Palm Beach County was fair.

Fact: Actually, thousands of irregularities in over a half-dozen categories have already been reported:

-Ballots ran out in certain precincts according to the LA Times on 11/10/00.

-Carpools of African-American voters were stopped by police, according to the Los Angeles Times (11/10/00). In some cases, officers demanded to see a "taxi license".

-Polls closed with people still in line in Tampa, according to the Associated Press.

-In Osceola County, ballots did not line up properly, possibly causing Gore voters to have their ballots cast for Harry Browne. Also, Hispanic voters were required to produce two forms of ID when only one is required. (source: Associated Press)

-Dozens, and possibly hundreds, of voters in Broward County were unable to vote because the Supervisor of Elections did not have enough staff to verify changes of address.

-Voters were mistakenly removed from voter rolls because their names were similar to those of ex-cons, according to Mother Jones magazine.

-According to Reuters news service (11/8/00), many voters received pencils rather than pens when they voted, in violation of state law.

-According to the Miami Herald, many Haitian-American voters were turned away from precincts where they were voting for the first time (11/10/00)

-According to Feed Magazine (www.feedmag.com), the mayoral candidate whose election in Miami was overturned due to voter fraud, Xavier Suarez, said he was involved in preparing absentee ballots for George W. Bush. (11/9/00)

-According to tompaine.com, CBS's Dan Rather reported a possible computer error in Volusia County, Florida, where James Harris, a Socialist Workers Party candidate, won 9,888 votes. He won 583 in the rest of the state. [11/9/00] County-level results for Florida are available at cnn.com.

-Many African-American first-time voters who registered at motor vehicles offices or in campus voter registration drives did not appear on the voting rolls, according to a hearing conducted by the NAACP and televised on C-SPAN on 11/12/00.

10) Myth: "No evidence of vote fraud, either in the original vote or in the recount, has been presented." -- James Baker, representing the Bush campaign on 11/10/00, in a Florida briefing.

Fact: The election was held just last week, so of course many instances of fraud have not yet been substantiated. Even so, authorities have already uncovered clear evidence of voter fraud involving absentee ballots.

In Pensacola, Florida, Bush supporter Todd Vinson never received the absentee ballot he requested. According to the Associated Press on 11/9/00, it was determined after an investigation that this ballot was received by a third party, filled out with a forged signature, and then sent in. Assistant State Attorney Russell Edgar, when asked if other absentee ballots might had been intercepted, said, "I agree there may well be many more than just this one".

Much media attention on the issue of voter fraud has been focused on Wisconsin where cigarettes were offered to homeless people who were casting absentee ballots, presumably for Gore. The Gore campaign claims the cigarettes were not used to "buy" votes. On Monday 10/13, the London Times reported a suspected pro-Bush vote fraud operation in Miami involving over 10,000 ballots.

11) Myth: It is highly unusual for judges to intervene after an election. Since the designer of a disputed ballot in Florida is a member of the party contesting the election, a legal challenge is impossible.

Fact: The most fundamental right of a democratic society is the the right to vote, and to have one's vote correctly counted. The legal system exists to ensure that people's rights are not violated. Whether the person committing a violation is a Democrat or a Republican does not affect how that violation should be treated.

Elections are ultimately struggles for political power so it should not be surprising that disputes are often resolved in court. Of course judges can be biased. That is why they must explain their decisions and why bad arguments can be overturned on appeal.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in 1998, in connection with a disputed Volusia County election, that if there is "substantial noncompliance" with election laws and a "reasonable doubt" aboutwhether election results "expressed the will of the voters" then a judge must "void the contested election, even in the absence of fraud or intentional wrongdoing." (source: Wall St. Journal, 10/10/00). The Journal indicated that there was little legal precedent for a revote in just one area where an election occurred. It would be more likely for a court to order a new election or to overturn the result.

These issues have arisen in other states as well. In a Massachusetts Democratic primary in 1996 for the US House, the election was so close after recounts that a judge had to make the final decision after examining some of the ballots that were incompletely punched, to determine the intention of the voter. The law clearly dictated that it was the will of the voter that mattered, and the candidate who was behind, William Delahunt, went on to win the final election. Call the Capitol Switchboard if you have any doubts at 202-225-3121.

12) Myth: Richard Nixon's party in 1960 did the honorable thing in not contesting the results of the election.

Fact: According to a column in the Los Angeles Times, 11/10/00, "on Nov. 11, three days after the election, Thurston B. Morton, a Kentucky senator and the Republican Party's national chairman, launched bids for recounts or investigations in not just Illinois and Texas but also Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. A few days later, Robert H. Finch and Leonard W. Hall, two Nixon intimates, sent agents to conduct what they called "field checks" in eight of those 11 battlegrounds. In New Jersey, local Republicans obtained court orders for recounts; Texans brought suit in federal court. Illinois witnessed the most vigorous crusade. Nixon aide Peter Flanigan encouraged the creation of a Chicago-area Nixon Recount Committee. As late as Nov. 23, Republican National Committee general counsel H. Meade Alcorn Jr. was still predicting Nixon would take Illinois." Recounts continued into December, but did not succeed in overturning the result of the election.

13) Myth: "Governor Bush is still the winner, subject only to counting the overseas ballots, which traditionally have favored the Republican candidates" -- James Baker, Press Briefing, 11/10/00

Fact: The number of yet-to-be-counted overseas military ballots is likely to be in the range of 500 to 2000, based on the 1996 election in which there were 2,300 oversees absentee ballots overall, with roughly 60% of them coming from people enlisted in the military. According to CNN [11/10/00], the military overseas ballots that arrived before the election were already counted. The biggest difference from 1996 is that Clinton -- who avoided the draft -- was running against Dole, a decorated military veteran.

In 2000 George W. Bush -- who avoided service in Vietnam and actually lost flying privileges in the Texas Air National Guard -- is running against Al Gore, a veteran who served in Vietnam.

It is just as possible that Gore will gain a few hundred votes from veterans as the other way around. It is also possible that the Gore ticket will pick up votes from Democratic diplomatic appointees, or temporary residents and dual citizens of Israel.

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Jacob Everist
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Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

Bush Should Concede (none / 0) (#99)
by finkployd on Tue Nov 14, 2000 at 04:06:39 PM EST

I voted against Gore, however I recognise the seriousness of this situation. The stock market doesn't like uncertainty, the people are upset, and Jesse Jackson other extreamists are decending on FL trying to incite a riot (quote: "Revote or revolt") And now we are begining to feel a 'Constitutional Crisis' resulting from this sick circus.

It is increasingly appearent that Gore will not stop until a recount shows him the winner. It's obvious that when the Gore camp pleads for a "fair, and accurate recount" their defination of that is one that declares him the winner. If there are hand counts in EVERY county that still don't overturn the results, then the lawsuits will begin. There is virtually no chance that they will accept ANY result except a Gore win.

So Bush, for the good of the country, just concede. Don't expect Gore to show any maturity, poise, or integrity, that would be completly out of character. Accept that this election will be decided by a judge as soon as the Gore camp finishes shopping around for one sympathetic to his cause.


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