Sunday, October 29, 2006

Simple Solution: Cancel the Election

Apparently Hugo Chavez's company owns some of the US voting machines. Luckily those on the far right in the United States aren't prone to believing conspiracy theories or else this would certainly generate a few, one imagines...


  • Well, I found it pretty hard to get worked up about the Diebold accusations, which seemed to be along the lines of: "The owner supports Bush, therefore, they must be rigged!"

    Similarly, this doesn't seem to be anything to worry about.

    By Blogger JP, at 5:19 p.m.  

  • If it follows its own standards, the US Government shouldn't have any problem with a company with alleged ties to the Venezuelan government running elections in the US.

    In fact, by the standard set by US "democracy promotion" abroad (and particularly in Venezuela), Americans shouldn't have any problem with the Venezuelan government funding groups that illegally print out voter registration forms and distribute them to voters likely to vote in a manner favourable to Chavez.

    There is no talk of Venezuela doing that, mind, but it's a matter of the public record that the US funds such groups in Venezuela and around the world.

    In fact, the Canadian Government shouldn't have any problem with Venezuela funding a group that releases skewed polling data on election day (among other things) to influence voting and turnout, since CIDA gave $40,000 to Súmate.

    Canada and the US maintain the right to interfere in the democratic processes of other countries while disallowing similar intervention in their own governance. There's a word for that.

    By Blogger dru, at 6:50 p.m.  

  • I know a lot of Americans and they're all just shocked how we vote with paper and pencil. Pencil!

    It's a good way - we should keep it. No muss, no fuss.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:11 p.m.  

  • By the way, even if one finds ridiculous the notion that CEOs of voting machine companies would do anything improper when there are no real accountability measures in place, that's not the main reason to be scared by electronic voting machines.

    The fact is, many electronic voting machines have been shown to be imminently hackable. You don't need a conspiracy; you just need, in the words of Ars Technica, "one highly motivated, but only moderately skilled bad apple" to steal an election

    By Blogger dru, at 7:24 p.m.  

  • They find it amazing because they are casting ballots for several federal, state and local offices plus ballot initiatives at once.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 10:57 p.m.  

  • Right, RB, but why can't they just do all that with a pencil? It just seems so much easier.

    But then, I'm suspicious of machines, I guess. Ever since "Maximum Overdrive" - that was it for me.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:01 a.m.  

  • Jason:

    One reason for all of the technology in the US is the number of elections going on at once.

    They are not just voting for one MP at a time, the way we do. On the one ballot, they will vote for: Representative, Senator (if timing is applicable), Governor (if timing is applicable), state representative (i.e. MPP equivalent), state senator, municipal officials, sheriffs and any resolutions/referenda put forward if the state allows that.

    I'm with Rick Mercer's suggestion on Talking To Americans: just throw pinecones in a drawer.

    By Blogger Cerberus, at 11:36 a.m.  

  • I'm still in the "pencil and paper, idiots!" camp.

    Sure, maybe it'll take a little longer to count the ballots -- till 2 or 3 AM. But that's not so terrible.

    And it leaves a paper trail.

    My US electoral reform proposal:

    1. Go to paper ballots.
    2. Introduce a photo ID requirement.
    3. Hire more poll workers.
    4. If the election is closer than X%, do an automatic recount. If it then gets closer, do a judicial recount.

    Stunning in its simplicity.

    By Blogger The Tiger, at 2:23 p.m.  

  • Oh yes, and...

    5. Allow people to register on election day, with the right documents.

    By Blogger The Tiger, at 2:24 p.m.  

  • 2. Introduce a photo ID requirement.

    Is much more contentious than you would think.

    By Blogger Kyle G. Olsen, at 4:50 p.m.  

  • I'm with the Tiger -- surely it can't take any longer to mark an X with a pencil than to press a button or pull a lever. And the paper trail part is what gets me the most.

    You can't register on E-Day in the US? I did not know that... interesting.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 5:08 p.m.  

  • Oh man, I JUST read the title to this thread - brilliant, man!

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 5:09 p.m.  

  • Kyle --

    Yes, because that's the way the Democrats cheat.

    The Republicans cheat by knocking people off the voting rolls too late for them to re-register (see Florida, 2000), the Democrats cheat by having dead and fictional people vote (see Illinois, 1960, Washington State, 2004, etc., etc.).

    One needs to deal with both tactics to have a serious electoral reform proposal.

    By Blogger The Tiger, at 9:11 p.m.  

  • Jason --

    I registered on the last day possible here in MA -- that was October 18th.

    It's not a huge burden, but it's enough of one to keep a few people from voting. One has to deal with that problem because that's how the Republicans cheat. (See my last comment.)

    By Blogger The Tiger, at 9:13 p.m.  

  • Fascinating, M. leTigre... I've worked many elections and see many people register day-of, so I just assumed it was the same. I guess it's not a bad idea, to have to register in advance... although it's extremely convenient to be able to do so day-of (I've certainly taken advantage of it). Well, I've learned something new - thanks.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:12 p.m.  

  • Oh, I think it's an obstacle that ought to be removed -- it enables Republican dirty tricks. Just like there should be an ID requirement, to counter Democrat dirty tricks.

    And then everyone says that they want electoral reform, but never quite can go with a unified package, because they can't give up on the possibility of getting one-up on their opponents...

    By Blogger The Tiger, at 8:57 a.m.  

  • I guess I agree with you - go with same-day registration, and use photo ID. We do it, we don't have any problems.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:54 a.m.  

  • In addition to the list Cerberus enumerated, most jurisdictions in the U.S. allow you to vote a full or split Party ticket on that same ballot.

    For example, a voter could mark "Democrat", indicate a choice for the non-partisan offices and questions, and be done. Or they could mark "Democrat" and proceed to mark one or two "Republican" candidates (as well as any "Democrat" candidates they choose). Or they could simply mark their ballot for the individual candidates of their choice without marking a Party Ticket.

    For the 2004 election, for example, I noted that my ballot included a Partisan section with a Party Ticket, Presidential, Congressional, State Legislature, State Board of Education, University of Michigan Board of Regents, Michigan State University Board of Trustees, Wayne State University Board of Governors, County Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff, County Clerk, County Treasurer, Register of Deeds, and County Commissioner.

    The Non-Partisan section included Justices of the (Michigan) Supreme Court, Judges of the Court of Appeals, Judges of the 3rd Circuit Court, Judges of the Probate Court, Wayne County Community College Trustee, and two ballot questions ("Proposals").

    In some of these, of course, more than one individual was to be elected. Manual counting of every ballot would have taken years, while automated counting (with manual audits) is very quick.

    I would finally point out that many jurisdictions (including Ottawa, Canada) use automated vote tabulating equipment already, and use of pencils is not allowed (in favour of black felt-tip markers).

    By Blogger Paul, at 1:22 p.m.  

  • Forget about voting machines. As one software expert (and a member of the House of Representatives) said, whenever you roll out a new computer system, there are always glitches you need to iron out (same with any Microsoft product). Most of the machines to be used on November 7 will have their first real test, can you guess it, on November 7.

    What's wrong with pencil and paper?

    By Blogger Werner Patels, at 8:21 p.m.  

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