Tuesday November 7, 2006

Voting-day observations

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  1. Jonathan    Tue Nov 7, 02:07 PM #  

    -People who need to be told to vote shouldn’t vote. Voting is important but voters should have enough civic interest to educate themselves on the issues and candidates. Voting while ignorant is bad for the country.

    -Jimmy Carter’s record as an election observer in Venezuela and elsewhere does not exactly inspire confidence in his wisdom on this topic. In a country of 300 million people and fifty states with differing laws, standardized voting procedures aren’t going to happen, and BFD anyway. The real question is what to do about fraud, which is a serious problem, though probably not one that is fixable via UN observers or whatever other nostrums Jimmy has in mind.

  2. oldswish    Tue Nov 7, 02:11 PM #  

    Your link to the Herald’s recommendations should be reconsidered. They recommended Haskins for District 2 and they have a real estate deal in the works that needs her approval. They should have recused themselves from recommending any one for District 2.

  3. Biscayne Bystander    Wed Nov 8, 02:12 AM #  

    Crossing fingers for subpoena power!

  4. alesh    Wed Nov 8, 05:59 AM #  


    Voting while ignorant is bad for the country.

    True. But ‘ignorant’ is not a yes or no question. Being informed is a question of degrees. Voting while mostly ignorant might be bad for the country, but it’s likely that at least some of my opinions will be expressed.

    Jimmy Carter’s record as an election observer in Venezuela and elsewhere does not exactly inspire confidence in his wisdom on this topic.

    Jimmy Carter’s record is a step in the right direction. I assume that by “country of 300 million people” you’re referring to the USA, though? If so, I would suggest that the problem is fraud and incompetence. Both need to be attacked. It’s not a given that standardized voting procedures nationwide would improve matters, but I think it’s quite possible they might, especially if we’re talking about my pet topic of online voting (which is low-cost, and which, BTW, was kind of sort of exercised in some states (though ‘print-out/mail-in’ style)). You get to draw on a bigger pool of smarter people to figure out how to do it.

    I don’t know, though — when I think of ‘fraud’ I think of decentralized local efforts to confuse and discourage voters, of which NPR cited an uncomfortable number of examples in yesterday’s election. And obviously outside observers (how’d the UN get into this?) could be very helpful in preventing, or at least identifying, that.

    (BTW, is this the same Jonathan with the photoblog?)

    [The Herald] should have recused themselves from recommending any one for District 2.

    That sounds pretty right to me, oldswish. I ended up not voting with the Herald’s recommendations very often. Though I’d almost wished I’d had all their backup essays with me — at the moment of truth, I’d wished I could have tracked down their reasoning. As it was, it took me a long time to vote. Maybe next time I’ll print all my research out and bring it along. There were five machines set up at my precinct, and when I was there I was the only one voting, so I could have taken as long as I wanted.

    Subpoena power it be, BB. Let’s just hope they don’t embarrass themselves with it. And disgust everyone with Democrats enough to put McCain in the white house in 08.

  5. Jonathan    Wed Nov 8, 09:41 AM #  

    -Yes, same Jonathan.

    -Yes, ignorance is a matter of degree. The more educated and thoughtful the voters are, the better off the country will be.

    -Yes, “300 M” refers to USA.

    -IIRC the UN reference was in response to Carter’s website, which mentions “UN election observers” as if they would be unbiased and helpful in American elections, which everyone knows is a joke and will never happen anyway. Carter’s problem is that when he has been an official observer he has failed to notice flagrant and massive election fraud in places where anti-American thugs, notably Chavez and Arafat, were running for office, but at the same time he is quick to carp about his own country based on unsubstantiated partisan accusations of voter intimidation. There are better people to listen to on the topic of election integrity.

    -No doubt there are many attempts to confuse and discourage voters, but there is also a great deal of real fraud: multiple voting, voting by disqualified people (e.g., noncitizens), votes cast in the name of other people or dead people, etc. This is a big problem nationally but neither Party wants to deal with it — the Democrats because they usually benefit directly, the Republicans because when they make an issue of voting fraud the Democrats accuse them of racism (and maybe they think they benefit from fraud directly, as well).

    -Online voting would be great if there were a robust method of verifying voter ID. I don’t think such a method exists yet.

  6. alesh    Thu Nov 9, 05:57 AM #  

    multiple voting, voting by disqualified people (e.g., noncitizens), votes cast in the name of other people or dead people, etc.

    OK, yes. Stuff like that is an argument for getting rid of local control of elections. I’m no particular fan of big government, but when something happens everywhere in the country, it makes sense for the feds to do it.

    It’s also an argument for online voting. We use the username/pin system for checking out stuff from the library, submitting tax returns, banking, and a million other things that are fairly important, and fairly secure. Why doesn’t it work for voting?

    As for Jimmy Carter. I don’t know much about the history of voting in the places you mentioned, but I think that Americans benefit tremendously from having the “your country is just as fucked up as other countries, sometimes worse” message drilled into their heads. To the extent that Carter sheds yet another perspective on it, he’s doing everyone a good deed.

    he has failed to notice flagrant and massive election fraud in places where anti-American thugs, notably Chavez and Arafat, were running for office

    A link to some documentation would be helpful. In the meantime, I’ll just guess that Americans who take a hard-line “we’re right and the rest of the world (including the UN) needs to do what we say” approach will feel differently from Americans that think we need to get in line with the rest of the world, try to see things from an outside perspective, and cool out on throwing our weight around. And I suspect that Carter takes shit from folks in the former category for being squarely in the latter category.

    Hey, here’s a line: The USA is the Microsoft of the world. I like their software, but I don’t much care for their business practices.

  7. Jonathan    Thu Nov 9, 12:30 PM #  

    If you google “venezuela election carter” you can find plenty of reports from different points of view. I didn’t find a quick source of info on the first election in the Palestinian territories in the early ’90s, which Arafat won, but it is widely assumed to have been corrupt (i.e., opposition candidates suppressed, voters intimidated) and you can probably find out about it if you spend some time googling.

    In the Venezuelan case Carter was quick to certify that the election had been clean even though its outcome was improbably favorable for Chavez (somebody did a statistical analysis of the results as compared to pre-election polls and found a high probability that the official election results massively overstated the vote for Chavez) and there is circumstantial evidence of collusion between the company that supplied the voting machines and the Chavistas. Given the level of controversy and (IMO justified) suspicion about Chavez’s willingness to hold fair elections, it reflects poorly on Carter that he credulously accepted the Venezuelan government’s reassurances and did not take the time seriously to evaluate the questions raised by Chavez’s opponents and outside observers.

    The USA, like most of the big democracies, has problems with election fraud, but most of our elections are adequately clean, and their results are generally not disputed except in a few cases where vote tallies are close. This situation is not even remotely comparable to what happens in places like Venezuela, where the government openly intimidates opposition voters and stuffs ballot boxes to inflate its share of the votes by millions.

  8. conductor    Thu Nov 9, 02:57 PM #  

    We don’t have uniform elections procedures in our country because we don’t have national elections. Think about it. We have 50 independent states. Even when we vote for president we are not voting in a national election. We are voting in a statewide election that determines which party’s slate of electors goes to the electoral college.

    It’s obvious that in states that are less populous they may have different machines or methods for voting than states that are more populous. Each state decides which way is best.

    That’s why it’s important for Floridians to stand up and demand that the new governor put safeguards in place to protect the integrity of our elections. I did a post about this yesterday at babalu. The issue isn’t whether we use ths same machines as they use in Ohio but that each state takes care of its own business and is responsive to the needs of it’s residents.

  9. alesh    Thu Nov 9, 04:25 PM #  


    Nope, the elections are NOT done by states — they’re done by COUNTIES! So we actually have THOUSANDS of separate systems around the country, each a little different.

    That goes a long way towards explaining the mess we’re in.

    You also seem to suggest that different voters have different interests, or needs. Obviously, all voters have the same need — to have their votes counted accurately.

    In some sense, of course voting will always be managed locally. But it makes sense to standardize voting procedures nationally — let’s figure out what WORKS, and use it everywhere.

  10. Omni    Mon Nov 13, 04:45 PM #  

    One more election. It is run by Miami-Dade Elections Dept.

    City of Miami Commission race for Dist 2. Runoff. Nov 21st. Sarnoff vs Haskins.

    The grass roots pro smart development candidate Sarnoff vs the Manny Diaz machine “business as usual” “tax and spend” candidate Haskins.