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Statistics, Elections, Frustration 1432

The word is that the Florida recount will be completed later today (before 5 EST). In the meantime, a couple of interesting bits related to math (which seems much more appropriate to Slashdot ;) The big one is of course the 'Voting Irregularity' in Palm Beach where supposedly thousands of seniors voted for Buchanan due to a badly designed ballot. this report (unfortunately, its a PDF) breaks down the returns on various counties and pretty much proves that something was wrong. Any math folks out there interested in doing their own take on the numbers? bwoodard sent in a mathematical argument for the electoral college written by MIT Prof, Alan Natapof. Hopefully we'll have more word later today. Update: 11/09 01:55 PM EDT by C :For those of you interested in seeing why there is such controversy over the Palm Beach County ballot, you can take a look at the ballot to see for yourself if it might be a bit unintuitive. If you'd like more food for thought, you can check out this article which talks a bit about the usability issues behind the ballot's design.
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Statistics, Elections, Frusteration

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  • In the Republican primary in that exact same area, thanks to support from a relative, Buchanan got up to 8,000 votes in 1996. In a primary, where a very small number of republicans actually turn out compared to election days. Of course, that was way before he left the party, but it is more than reasonable that he still has between 1/3rd of the supporters that he did back then. Saying "this is wrong because every other country voted differently." is complete bull. And, as most of us who's visited know, you never visit Palm Beach without seeing something odd. Anyway....

    I'm not a US citizen, so I could be wrong on this, but didn't Buchanan have something like 30% support across the Republican party nationally? What did that get him in this election?

    If you want people to believe your claim that Palm Beach might be genuinely different, what were Buchanan's primary votes like in neighbouring areas in 1996? In order for your position to be defensible, they must be significantly lower.

    I would like to remind everyone that the electoral college works. Just because New York and California really really want Gore to win doesn't mean that the rest of the country wants what Gore represents. Imagine if the EU existed during Hitler's rise to power, and Nazi Germany dominated the popular vote for the elections to president of the EU. This is all hypothetical, but I'm simply afraid that a lot of people don't understand the power balancing that the electoral college brings.

    I suggest you read a little more about Hitler's rise to power before you make claims like this. Hitler never won a popular vote in the Weimar Republic. The closest he got was about 44% [], and that was in an election where he had massive media backing and substantial support from Germany's industrialists.

    Rhetoric aside, your argument is that some people's votes should inherently be worth more than others, because of where they live. That is bad enough, but it also seems that your claims are motivated solely by your desired outcome, rather than on any coherent set of electoral principles.

    (sorry for sounding harsh :)

  • According to Florida law, among the legal grounds for challenging the results of an election are:

    The grounds for contesting an election under this section are:

    (a) Misconduct, fraud, or corruption on the part of any election official or any member of the canvassing board sufficient to change or place in doubt the result of the election.

    (b) Ineligibility of the successful candidate for the nomination or office in dispute.

    (c) Receipt of a number of illegal votes or rejection of a number of legal votes sufficient to change or place in doubt the result of the election.

    Found at The Florida Election Commission. [] (sorry, a direct link is impossible)

    The fundamental legal question is "was the will of the people thwarted?" And there is little doubt that it was in this case.

  • Honestly, I think Gore is handling this perfectly. I hope if the results change that Bush is as gracious and concedes to Gore. Even though I voted for Bush I think the most important thing now is that this be over we move on. Turning it into a lawyer infested slugfest is not going to help anyone.

  • You are missing two is that the sample ballot was different from the ballot used. So if they familiarized themselves with it they'd vote wrong. Secondly, many of the voters were seniors with poor eyesight...which makes it difficult.

    I added more weight to this when I heard two of the voters talk. One voted, and then realized she had voted for Buchanon. The person in charge refused to give her another ballot so she could vote correctly - even though it clearly says on the ballot to get another one if you make a mistake. The other person I heard interviewed actually asked one of the workers there which hole was for Gore...the worker couldn't figure it out either. If the person that works there can't figure it out, how are the voters going to figure it out?

    Evan Reynolds

  • First off you fucks - I'm lefthanded and even I see that covering up half of the choices obscures things. Next - even the fucking SAT has instructions on how to fill out the form. Is not even that important.

    So what do you want next - literacy, English language or intelligence tests to qualify for voting. Almost all of you smug bastards are decendants of people who came here from someotherfuckingplace. I propose that we retroactively void the voting of everyone who was in a hurry, had poor language skills, did not attend Geek U, was baffled perhaps as a first time voter or for any other reason. Every other aspect of our relationship to the government has SOME level of standardization to it.Why the fuck not this? Uh lemme guess - the same blockheads who are screaming that PEOPLE OF THEIR CHOSING should not be allowed to vote fall into two categories:

    Vote straight party line w/o really thinking about it or even knowing who all the candidates in their own party are or what the offices represent.

    Wrap themselves in the flag and the Constitution and bleat about how everyone should be allowed to do whatever the fuck they want as long as Boortz and Limbaugh tell them to.
  • However, what I was referring to by west, admittedly it was vague, was western florida which is a republican stronghold. When it was announced that FL, MI and PA all went to Gore, there were reports of republicans simply leaving polls figuring that the election was over.
    Huh? My understanding was that all of the polls in Florida were closed for almost an hour by the time the first network called the state. Do you have a link for your statement?

  • Are you sure? I believe that different states have different laws about this. I think that for some states you are only allowed to change your affiliation on a second round of votes (if nobody gets a majority on the first round).

    Of course, they could probably decide to do this, go ahead and do it, and take whatever the consequences would be. (Do you think they might get a pardon from the president?)

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Name me someone else who I could use in my analogy. Heck, I can't even use Gorby anymore, after the fall of the soviet union, he simmered down even _more_. His daughter even lives in the US as a Christian (and yes, he's perfectly fine with that).
    Those people, btw, did die in order to show as many people as possible what happens when you combine hate with power. Unfortunately, many tweleve year olds have never even heard of Hitler(nor MC Hammer or other recent figures, as I found out during a 'quiz' I gave them...). I'm waiting to watch a "Jaywalk" to see how many colege students and people on the street can't identify a picture of the Nazi leader to Leno. (A recent one had people who couldn't even figure out who Bush Jr. is...)
  • Here is florida's law on paper balloting. Especially read the first section on the ballot layout [].

    WEST'S FLORIDA STATUTES ANNOTATED TITLE IX. ELECTORS AND ELECTIONS CHAPTER 101. VOTING METHODS AND PROCEDURE Copr. © West Group 2000. All rights reserved. Current through End of 2000 2nd Reg. Sess.

    101.011. Voting by paper ballot

    (1) In counties where paper ballots are used, each elector shall be given a ballot by the inspector. Before delivering the ballot to the elector, one of the inspectors shall write his or her initials or name on the stub attached to the ballot; then the elector shall, without leaving the polling place, retire alone to a booth or compartment provided, and place an "X" mark after the name of the candidate of his or her choice for each office to be filled, and likewise mark an "X" after the answer he or she desires in case of a constitutional amendment or other question submitted to a vote.

    (2) No paper ballot shall be voided or declared invalid in any election within the state by reason of the fact that the ballot is marked other than with an "X," so long as there is a clear indication thereon to the election officials that the person marking such ballot has made a definite choice, and provided further, that the mark placed on the ballot with respect to any candidate by any such voter shall be located in the blank space on the ballot opposite such candidate's name.

    (3) After preparing his or her paper ballot, the elector shall fold the ballot so as to conceal the face of the ballot and show the stub attached with the name or initials of the inspector and hand it to the receiving inspector, who shall detach the stub and return the ballot to the elector to deposit in the ballot box in the presence of the inspectors. The detached stubs shall be numbered consecutively and filed by the inspectors.

    (4) If the elector marks more names than there are persons to be elected to an office, or if it is impossible to determine the elector's choice, his or her ballot shall not be counted for the office; but this shall not vitiate the ballot as to those names which are properly marked, and nothing in this code shall be construed to prevent any elector, at any general election, from voting for any qualified candidate other than one whose name is printed on the ballot.

    (5) Any elector who shall, by mistake, spoil a ballot so he or she cannot vote the ballot may return it to the inspectors, who shall immediately detach the stub, destroy the ballot without examination, and give the elector another ballot. In no case shall an elector be furnished with more than three ballots or carry a ballot outside the polling room. The clerk shall keep a record of all ballots destroyed.

    (6) At a general election an elector may vote for a write-in candidate by writing in the name of such person in the blank space provided.

    CREDIT(S) 2000 Electronic Pocket Part Update Amended by Laws 1982, c. 82-143, 3, eff. April 7, 1982; Laws 1995, c. 95- 147, 550, eff. July 10, 1995.

  • NATIONAL revote is required where districts whose voting stations have not yet closed do not receive information from other time zones.

    The problem being Florida was called while the polls in florida were still opened. That definitely is a problem.

    That may ensure that the LETTER of the law is respected, but it also prescribes who the new president will be. If the stories of confusing ballots, people not being able to get new ballots after realising they were confused, ballots going missing, etc., are even partly true then having the republicans vote in their man clearly flies in the face of the "will" of the public.

    First of all, I'm not sure which way the House would go since the Constitution proscribes that each state get one vote -- even Texas would go to Gore since 18 of the 30 districts are democrats. If people don't understand their ballot, they need to ask for help. If people are refused a ballot, they need to call in a sheriff to settle the matter( at worst they'll end up with an absentee ballot which can be counted later after their status is verified ). Finally, is is better to have judges rewrite an election by modifying it's votes or would it be better to go by the method proscribed in our founding document? On one had, you end up with a judge legislating( flying in the face of the Constitution ) and on the other you have the rule of law, something TOTALLY indesputable, standing.

  • threatening language in your signature is annoying.

    Sorry you feel that way. I'm simply mirroring a common pro-choice arguement and inserting my closely held beliefs of my constitutional right. I don't mean to annoy you and I certainly am not threating anyone any more than the pro-choice movement is when they say the same thing.

  • by JJ ( 29711 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:27AM (#634730) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone else find it incredibly ironic that
    the brothers Daley would be on national media crying about election irregularities? Just for the record, their father stole the 1960 presidential election for Kennedy away from Nixon.
  • >>> Those people voted Buchanan, period. If it was a mistake, I'm sorry but they blew it.

    >> I hope you're not in the business of designing computer interfaces.

    > Or worse, airport ground traffic control systems and proceedures.

    Or missile launch systems.
    Yes, captain. Tell the president that I thought the top key ejected the trash and the
    bottom key launched the ICBMs.
  • 3rd party candidates are a completely different issue -- the electoral college system does not really make things better or worse. To design a system that works with third party candidates, you really need some system of preferential voting. The most popular such systems are proportional representation and instant runoffs.

  • by milph ( 96370 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:30AM (#634738)
    Those who are willing to do shady things are usually the first to suspect others of similar things.

  • According to Democratic sources, at least 10,000 people have called in to report that they voted for Buchannan by mistake.
  • I live and voted in PBC, and I can honestly say that in retrospect, I can't recall if I selected the correct punchhole for Gore. I was kind of excited and nervous to be voting (I've only voted once before), and so I may have made the mistake. I didn't really realize that the page was an odd layout since I haven't voted much before. I doubt that I made this mistake, but I have no idea.

    That's just my personal testimony to add to the pot.

    EFF Member #11254

  • I agree. I think the other things that are wrong with his argument are that he's basing the entire argument solely on a two-candidate election,

    The US system basically does boil down to a two-candidate election because you don't have instant runoffs. Third party candidates are basically a spanner in the works of the US electoral system.

    as well as thinking that any grouping by ethnicity, locale, etc would vote in a similar fashion.

    The point is not that they would, but that they might, and the system should be robust enough to withstand this.

  • What did you think of this year's San Francisco ballots? I thought that they were very easy to use, but a little unwieldy. Their main usability feature seems to be that when you feed the ballot into the machine, the machine will warn you if you made any mistakes, and you can tear up your ballot and be issued a new one. Obviously this would have fixed the 19,000+ Palm Beach ballots that were double-punched.

    The woman who was standing in line in front of me at my polling place managed to vote yes and no on three city propositions. I don't think she was very bright, but at least she got a second shot at it.

  • I pretty much agree with you, but statistics like this [] are hard to ignore. Obviously something was amiss. There have already been lawsuits filed so this thing will drag for a bit. Either way it is going to paint the winner in a negative light (Gore, whining and sueing to win; Bush, winning without popular vote and because of screwy ballots).
  • This goes out to all those who say the voters should have just asked for help if the ballot was confusing:


    What if it wasn't obvious that they needed help? There was no indication that they had done anything wrong when they filled out the ballots, and the error was not caught until later. Where I voted (Fitchburg, WI), they have you stick your ballot card into the scanner right away on your way out of the room. That way it is counted right away, and you are the only one that touches your ballot, so someone can't alter it after you leave. This system makes for much faster counting (But it isn't used everywhere in Wisconsin, which is why it was one of the 'undecided' states for so long). Anyway, presumably if the card contained invalid input (like two choices for president), an error indication could have been given right then and there, before I left. (Although I don't know if this is really what would happen if I'd filled out the card wrong.) Presumably in Florida this isn't what they did, so those who voted erroneously didn't have any feedback that their ballot was going to be thrown out for errors. This should be importat to people who have been talking about this as a user interface issue. Sure, they showed the ballots to people ahead of time and got no complaints, but the real UI mistake here wasn't in the ballot itself, it was in the lack of error feedback when using it. (Something you can't test for by just showing people what the ballot is going to look like).


    Asking for help destroys your right to a secret ballot. (Sometimes it's inevitable, as in the case of the blind, but if you think you can avoid it, you generally don't want to tell people at the booth whom you are voting for.)

  • Unfair in the sense that 4 populous states (CA, FL, NY, and TX) can't impose their will on the rest of the country, yes. You have to have AT LEAST a dozen states to win under an electoral system, but under a popular system you can basically promise every federal dollar to those four states and the rest fo the country can go to hell...

    You're assuming that those four states population would vote 100% for a candidate. That's not a valid assumption. The vote would most likely be split. Look at the "strong" states that Gore or Bush carried to see the percentages. Also look at the vote counts for the 4 states you mention.

    Using your argument above, don't you think that ALL the candidates would be promising those 4 states every federal dollar? So they would split the votes in those states and it would come down to the other states. It would definitely take more than 4 states to win the election.

    Using a popular vote would also help the other parties. People would worry less about "wasting" their vote because their state is a close race.
  • > And then there's the Constitution Party's extremely high showing in Palm Beach, when their dot is...yup, one up from Ralph Nader's.

    Now that's getting interesting.

    I stand by my original position that a validly-marked ballot ought never to be second-guessed, and that it's the voter's responsibility to make sure the ballot was properly marked before putting it in the box.

    That said, this is the first non-partisan evidence that the ergonomics of the Palm Beach ballot may have skewed the election, and I thank you very much for pointing it out.

    > having said that, I'm not sure if there's any obvious legal remedy for this at all.

    Same here. Even though Buchanan has conceded those votes to Gore (source:, the question becomes "who really meant to vote for him, and who really meant to vote for Gore?"

    With a secret ballot, there's no way to tell. That's the point of a secret ballot, and the best argument, IMHO, why the votes still shouldn't be transferred.

    (Thankfully, the argument "Well, Buchanan deserves so few votes that his voters don't matter" falls flat. The election of 2000 has taught us all that every vote counts. Though I admit it would be a supreme irony if all the Republicans crowing about how "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush" lost the Presidency because "a vote for Buchanan was a vote for Gore")

  • by ToLu the Happy Furby ( 63586 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @07:25AM (#634766)
    This is why math professors should stick to math. (Note that I'm a math major, so perhaps I should as well. ;)

    Not that the longwinded article linked here actually got around to talking about Natapof's "proof" in any detail, but from what I could piece together, all he proved is that under an electoral college system, each voter has a greater chance of deciding the election with his or her vote than under a direct election.

    Well no shit, Sherlock. That's why we're sitting here watching a recount come in dozens of votes at a time, arguing about a couple hundred blind old ladies, and fretting about whether more Floridians overseas are serving in the military or dual citizens of Israel. OF COURSE a smaller number of voters has a larger chance of deciding an election under the electoral college system.

    In other words, the e.c. is considerably more unstable and capricious than a direct election. There is a much greater chance that the true will of the people will not be reflected in the final result. Why we need a mathematical proof to investigate this is not totally beyond me, because it's an interesting combinatorial result (I'd assume). Why this Natapof guy actually thinks this is a good thing, though, is utterly ridiculous.

    His best argument (according to the article) is that we don't complain that the World Series is determined by who wins the most games, not who scores the most runs. Putting aside the fact that the two situations are *not* analogous (for one thing, the fact that there is a different starting pitcher for any given 4-5 games in a row is the most important argument for why we need a best-of-7 Series), the point here is that the World Series is put on for the purposes of *entertainment*, not of deciding who rules the free world. Not that I'm not having a lot of fun with these election results (side note--I helped elect a corpse! Whaddya think of that!), but there's an argument to be made that instability and lack-of-representation in results, while good for sporting events, are actually *bad* for presidential elections.

    Furthermore, he shows absolutely no understanding of the greater "rules" of the electoral college "game". For example, the electoral college has, throughout the course of US history, served to prolong and promote slavery and remove incentives for granting female sufferage or encouraging higher voter turnouts. For some excellent explanation why, why don't we read a *relevant* article [] by someone who's actually qualified to talk about the electoral college, Akhil Reed Amar (Yale professor and one of the foremost academic experts on Constitutional law).
  • by Sodium Attack ( 194559 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @11:46AM (#634816)
    Palm Beach has 15,000 registered Reform Party members and Broward County has less than 200 registered Reform Party members.

    According to Florida's own documents [] (PDF, sorry) there were only 337 voters registered in Palm Beach County as Reform Party members, as of October 10 of this year.

    3400 votes for Buchanan is directly in line with every other Florida county that has a similar number of registered Reform Party members.

    What other Florida county? No other Florida county [] had even 1/3 as many votes for Buchanan.

    The real voting irregularity here is the moderators who voted for these lies as "informative".

  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @08:08AM (#634849) Homepage
    I've put together a page [] illustrating three alternate ways a person could cognitively process the Palm Beach ballot, all of which would give erroneous Gore votes to Buchanan.

    It's just a first pass, but it should make my visual perception and cognitive neuroscience teachers happy.

    Kevin Fox
  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @11:52AM (#634853) Homepage
    The measure of the quality of the interface is the way that it ensures, statistically, that people's intentions are reflected in the ballot choices. There are in this case empirical measures of the effectiveness of the design, and this design failed profoundly. More information includes the fact that the ballots didn't always seat correctly, and that state law mandated that the Republican and Democratic options be the first and second on the ballot, respectively, when in fact they were the first and third (in terms of the punches).

    I'm serious about learning more about interface design. Note that Tufte doesn't specifically write about computer interfaces, but about information design in general. When one person makes a mistake, it's a mistake; when a group makes a statistically significant (versus control) number of mistakes, there's a design problem.

  • by prisoner ( 133137 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @08:17AM (#634938)
    the polls in western florida closed one hour later than the rest of FL. They are on central time....
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @08:59AM (#634957)
    > Any exit polls for that?

    FWIW, exit polls are exactly why I think there really is something wrong in Florida.

    Ignore the news reports and anecdotes; these could easily be shrugged off as reporters grasping for a scoop and the whingeing of sore losers.

    But exit polls. The Voters News Service originally gave the state to AG on the basis of exit polls. They retracted after complaints from the Bush HQ, but that was well after the polls had closed, and the exit polls weren't changing anymore. Now the actual results do not reflect the exit polls that the original prediction was based on.

    Think about it. Voter enters booth. Voter mistakenly votes for Buchanan. [Optional step: Voter recognizes mistake and re-punches for Gore.] Voter exits booth. Voter tells VNS surveyer that s/he voted for Gore. VNS tallies samples and predicts a win for Gore. Election workers tally votes, find a surprisingly high total for Buchanan and a startlingly high number of double-punched ballots in Palm Beach, and do not find a win for Gore.

    The hypothesis leads to results that fit the observations exactly.

    You still need to test the hypothesis, though. Have the 19,000 double-punched ballots been destroyed? If not, how many of them show a Gore-Buchanan combination? Any other suggestions for testing the hypothesis?
  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:08AM (#635004) Homepage Journal
    Hmmm. that sounds familiar... Haven't the Republicans been spending the last four years telling anyone and everyone that more people voted against Clinton than for him? At least he had a plurality of the popular vote. Dubya won't even have that.

    We live in interesting times...

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:09AM (#635064)
    Some points to consider:
    • The ballot's pretty fucking obvious. The number "3" beside Gore's name makes it pretty fucking clear that you punch the third hole for Gore.
    • Nobody protested the ballot design during the campaign, even though sample ballots were made widely-available.
    • If you still can't figure out the ballot, the time to ask is before you punch the hole, not after.
    • We have a secret ballot, and as such, you cannot second-guess it. For every Democrat willing to perjure him or herself on the stand and say "I punched the second hole even though Gore's arrow pointed to the third hole") there's a Republican equally willing to perjure by saying they "Oh yeah? Well I saw the big long underline below Bush's name pointing to the second hole, so I punched the second hole for Bush!".
    • I loathe Buchanan deeply, but the bottom line is that you can't second-guess the electorate. If there are 3400 votes with the Buchanan-hole (heh-heh, I said "Buchanan-hole"!) punched, those are valid Buchanan votes, and they should stand.

    If Al Gore wins the recount, Florida's 25 electors should go to Gore, and Gore should become President.

    If George Bush wins the recount, Florida's 25 electors should go to Bush, and Bush should become President.

    What I'm seeing today - a bunch of Gore's lawyers looking to replace a bunch of unspoiled ballots validly marked for Buchanan because they believe those votes "should have been Gore's" - is terrifyingly close to a coup d'etat.

    The Constitution does not give any party a "do over" because they don't like the results of an election.

    I urge the electors of Florida to consider casting their votes according to the results of the mandatory recount, and to ignore the implications of any legal decision to throw out validly-marked ballots for any candidate.

    (Note that spoiled ballots, such as those with two holes punched in them - are another matter entirely. I agree with the judge's decision to throw them out.)

  • by Shiva Lingham ( 252101 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:15AM (#635103)
    I originally posted this on the general discussion of the election the other day. Since it may have got lost in the sea of noise, I'm going to repost it and add to it:

    I believe there is a legitimate concern with the controversy concerning the ballot in Palm Beach County. The ballots there were printed such that out of the three ballot punchholes next to the Democratic ticket section, the topmost represented a vote for Buchanan, and the second represented Gore. In spite of the arrow pointing to the correct hole for Gore, this confused many voters who asked poll workers which hole was the right one. The poll workers could not give a definite answer either way, and did not have any other authority to check with.

    As a result, Buchanan had more votes in PBC (3407) than in any other county in Florida. This is strange because Gore carried Palm Beach county easily, 64%-36%. The next highest votes for Buchanan by county is Pinellas (1100), which also had the highest turnout for Nader, and was won by Gore, 52%-48%.

    Just wait, I'll start heading toward my point now. Pinellas and Palm Beach represent the highest combined turnout of Nader/Buchanan voters by number, followed by Hillsborough (which neighbors Pinellas), Broward, Dade, Brevard, and Sarasota. These represent the highest population counties in Florida. Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Hillsborough had the top 5 voter turnout, respectively. In four of these counties, Buchanan voters represent .1-.25% of total votes, and ~10% of combined Nader/Buchanan voters. However, in PBC Buchanan gets .8% of the total vote, and raked in 38% of the combined, alternative vote.

    This sticks out like a sore thumb, and I'm sure someone with a degree in statistics could prove my point. Why would PBC have SO MANY Buchanan voters if it is decidedly liberal? Why would it buck the trend set by counties of similar makeup and population? If one adjusts the Buchanan vote in PBC to correlate with the statewide average and the averages in other counties, One could assume that the total number of Gore votes miscast for Buchanan is ~2500.

    I'm not saying that this is enough to win FL decisively for Gore, but if the final count and recount gives Bush the state with less than this margin, it will be a hotly contested point for years to come.

    Addendum: I heard some republican flak on Crossfire claiming that Buchanan got 3000 votes in PBC in 1996 as well. If this were true, I would concede that the ballot confusion might not be the cause of these results. However, Buchanan wasn't ON the ballot in 1996. According to the FEC [], Buchanan was not on the ballot in Florida, and must have got less overall than James Edward Harris's(?) 13 votes for president. According to this [] calendar from the 1996 election, he never specifically visited Palm Beach county in 1996. (He visited Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, and Orlando in one trip.)

    I've been googl []ing [] steadily while writing this, and I can't find any further evidence of strong Pat Buchanan support in PBC, in 1996 or 2000. I am continuing statistical analysis on the county data as I type this. I want to look at the dramatic difference between PBC's Buchanan support and the rest of Florida, and see if any other states have counties which have this much of a flip flop.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:15AM (#635104) Homepage Journal
    The problem of applying mathematics to real world situations is how you define things. In particular, Natapof's seemingly counterintuitive assertion that the electoral college raises everyone's political power (in what otherwise would be a zero sum game) hinges on his peculiar definition of political power:

    What is the probability that one person's vote will be able to turn a national election? The higher the probability, the more power each voter commands. To figure out these probabilities, Natapoff devised his own model of a national electorate--a more realistic model, he thought, than the ones the quoted experts were always using. Almost always, he found, individual voting power is higher when funneled through districts--such as states--than when pooled in one large, direct election. It is more likely, in other words, that your one vote will determine the outcome in your state and your state will then turn the outcome of the electoral college, than that your vote will turn the outcome of a direct national election. A voter therefore, Natapoff found, has more power under the current electoral system.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:18AM (#635114) Journal
    An Honorable Man(tm) would look at the results, and admit that everything considered, those votes probably should have gone to Al Gore. And an Honorable Man(tm) would say, "based on the obvious truth of the matter, you win Al". This is something that requires true depth of character, and and personal integrity to principles. We all "know" that George W. Bush is a Honorable Man(tm). These are the things that GWB ran on. So it looks like,

    if GWB upholds his principles, he looses the election, and thus deserves to win.

    if GWB betrays his pricinples, he wins the election, and thus deserves to loose.

    [as seen on a bulletin board in Fermi Lab]
    "Never apply a Star Trek Solution to a Babylon 5 problem"

    Looks like a Babylon 5 problem to me ....

  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:18AM (#635116) Homepage
    Check out this graph [] (PDF format).

    Shows a scatter graph of Buchanan votes vs. Bush votes, by county. Assuming that Buchanan should get a fairly consistent percentage of the Bush votes by county (and this graph does seem to bear out that assumption), the Palm Beach results stick out like a sore thumb.

    It has also been reported that 19,000 ballots from palm beach were invalidated because 2 holes had been punched for the presidential candidate. I wonder which two they were...?

    It's important to emphasize that this does NOT mean that there was any sort of fraud going on. It was most likely an honest mistake, the official who designed the ballot said she was trying to find a way to use large fonts to help the elderly voters.

    If it's clear that they were confused, though, it seems that the only fair thing to do is have a re-vote in Palm Beach, open only to those who voted the first time. (They all signed their names, right?)


  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:51AM (#635123)
    Crap, I hate it when I write up a post only to have to backpedal within 15 minutes. I guess that's what politics is all about! ;-)

    According to Orvetti [], Buchanan(-hole) has just conceded that the 3400 votes are "properly Gore's".

    OK. I still have a problem with it (in the Constitutional sense), but if Buchanan's willing to relinquish his claim on those votes, now I can see at least some argument that might persuade a judge to grant a revote.

    In any case, the recount results are skewing heavily to Gore, so my whole point may be moot. Let's hope so.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:53AM (#635135) Homepage Journal
    I have this strange feeling we've been here, in Florida, this year...

    Great tension

    National focus

    Reno offering to help if need be

    One side cautionsly claiming victory

    One side saying we must respect the law

    Time dragging out and even Thursday's count may not be the final word, as abesentee ballots may play a factor

    A possible court battle

    People are already getting sick of it

    When it's all over they'll probably mistakenly send a boy to Cuba.


  • by jbridges ( 70118 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:54AM (#635147)
    A few tidbits I picked up this morning:

    Palm Beach has 15,000 registered Reform Party members and Broward County has less than 200 registered Reform Party members.

    3400 votes for Buchanan is directly in line with every other Florida county that has a similar number of registered Reform Party members.

    Buchanan has a residence in Palm Beach as does a close relative. He received 8000 votes in he Republican primary in Florida.

    There are more Reform Party registered voters in Palm Beach county measured as a percentage of total registrations than in any other county in Florida.

  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:54AM (#635150)
    If the final outcome is that Bush retains the electoral college votes and Gore the popular, whoever ultimately takes the White House is going to have a rough time. The opposition is going to carp endlessly that he doesn't have a 'mandate' and that he's in office illegitimately. With the narrowest of margins in the congress, I see this as a recipe for gridock. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. For us.
  • by rizzo242 ( 165630 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:24AM (#635154) Homepage
    [Comic Store Owner]: Worst ballot ever !

  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:28AM (#635177)
    if people were confused by the ballots, then the ballots are confusing.

    Then the local democratic elections administrator shouldn't have signed off on approving the ballot, which she did - thus officially endorsing the design on behalf of the Democrat party.

  • by HardCase ( 14757 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:28AM (#635179)
    The numbers tell me that there a lot of people who can't follow simple directions and poke a hole next to the arrow that points to it.

    Come on...look at the ballot. It isn't confusing at all. Not at all. The only people who are responsible for the problem are the people who couldn't follow simple instructions and take the time to look at what they were doing.

  • by J Story ( 30227 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:57AM (#635191) Homepage
    > Unfair in the sense that 4 populous states (CA, FL, NY, and TX) can't impose their will on the rest of the country,
    > yes. You have to have AT LEAST a dozen states to win under an electoral system, but under a popular system you can basically promise every federal dollar to those four states and the rest fo the country can go to hell...

    This is quite like the situation in Canada. Ontario, the most populous province by far, essentially elects the prime minister. It's an ongoing sore point with the western provinces, particularly Alberta and British Columbia, and is one of the reasons why many in the west support the idea of a senate system as practised in the States.
  • That's right, it's not democratic. It's not supposed to be. We are not a democracy, we are a "republic".

    Several times before the election I posted electoral collige links and facts, but it does not do any good for the vast majority of people. It is like trying to explain to them that "personal property" != "private property".

    So many of these folks seem to be just simpletons following the words of the TV person with the "best" hair and the slickest teleprompter delivery.

    Now, for the rest of us who know what the Electoral College is, I suggest that we get our States to adopt the Maine/Nebraska Electoral system and also to end the practice of "faithless electors" (as 25 or so States have done already).

    If this system is adopted we still get to tell our State how to vote while having some diversity between congressional district (those of us with more than one house member at least). It even opens the possibility of other parties to gain electoral votes in the final tally and perhaps a little more national exposure.

    Visit DC2600 []
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:59AM (#635210)
    > Those people voted Buchanan, period. If it was a mistake, I'm sorry but they blew it.

    I hope you're not in the business of designing computer interfaces.

    > Individual voters must take the time to understand their ballot.

    What about those who asked for help from the election clerks, and discovered that the clerks could not figure it out either?

    You have a rather cavalier attitude toward the voting rights of people who are not as smart as you are.
  • by brad3378 ( 155304 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:59AM (#635211)
    Oh boy....
    This is really gonna throw a wrench in the election.

    check out the Ballot [] and count down to the third Canidate (Harry Browne)

    ... Now count down to the third Hole. It points to Al Gore! It looks as though Al Gore may have stolen votes from Harry Browne! This is so confusing!!!

    It seems obvious to me that Harry Browne should win the state of Florida.
  • Check out the CBS page [] for presidential election results in Florida, by county.

    Now take a look at the votes for the Socialist Workers Candidate, Harris. Scroll down the page.

    6 votes..
    5 votes..
    0 votes.. (what a loser)
    88 votes.. (ok, I take that back)
    0 votes..
    36 votes..
    Volusia County: 9,888 votes!!! That's 5% of the county residents, and 95% of Harris' total vote.

    Same thing with Philips, the Constitution guy, who got 2,927 votes in Volusia, almost 3/4 of his total count for Florida. Hell, Browne, who only got 1% in other counties by generosity of rounding, beat out Nader in Volusia to get 3,211 votes. Is there some ultraeffective "pro third party, anti Green" ad campaign that decided to spam just one city in Florida?

    Perhaps, but that's not enough for those wacky Volusers; apparantly they've been having some computer trouble [], too. According to a section of this ABC News [] article, the vote count for Gore in Volusia may have decreased by about 10,000 votes while they were sending in returns Wednesday morning. WTF?

    Yeah. So, I guess my point is that Florida sucks. I guess they weren't expecting to be swarmed over by national news coverage, though; this kind of stuff probably happens everywhere, but never takes on this kind of importance.
  • by bwt ( 68845 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @10:21AM (#635265) Homepage
    My credentials: MS in math, 4 years experience as a quality control statistician.

    Here are some "flaws" in the analysis at

    1. The data at best supports the proposition that the Bush/Buchanan voting ratio for Palm Beach is significantly different than other Florida counties (but maybe not, see 5 below), but not that it is different from the "desired voting" ratio for Palm Beach.

    2. Using Bush/Buchanan ratio is very weird - should use Buchanan/All ratio. Trying to introduce outside knowledge inherent in focusing on how "conservative" voters split introduces preconceptions that are non-statistical in nature. Why not Buchanan/Nader?

    3. Normalization set chosen to be Florida. Why? Why not all US? Why not all of the South?

    4. Expected distribution of Buchanan support rates by county is not known and cannot be determined by choosing a model. You must provide a non-statistical argument for why you believe the model holds.

    5. In particular, even if the counties are normally distributed (doubtful), the maximum value should be chosen from an extreme value distribution, not a normal distribution. Extreme value distributions have very heavy tails. The fact that the choice of Palm Beach was made post hoc changes how the analysis should be done.

    6. The basic premise is flawed because the vote rate might actually be from a different distribution than other counties. For example consider the distribution of voters born in Palm Beach. You cannot look at a model to infer that the emperical distribution is "wrong". In other words, maybe Palm Beach really does have more Buchanan supporters.

    7. If the hypothesis is "the butterfly ballot causes confusion between candidate 2 and candidate 3", then it would be proper to test that hypothesis on ALL [] races using that ballot. In particular the Senate race on the same ballot did not display any anomoly despite having 3 candidates and comparable total votes.

    I am not saying that the result is not anamolous, just that it is very easy to conclude that it is for the wrong reasons.
  • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @07:33AM (#635337) Journal
    It isn't confusing at all. Not at all. The only people who are responsible for the problem are the people who couldn't follow simple instructions and take the time to look at what they were doing.

    So you say. Expert testimony says otherwise. Jakob Nielsen: []

    The Florida ballot clearly had usability problems, caused by the attempt to map a two-column set of labels onto a one-column action area. A direct mapping between two single-column areas would have been much less error-prone.

    Nielsen doesn't go so far as to say that this is specifcally what cost Gore the election, but with 19K incorrectly filled out ballots in two counties, I'd say it's a pretty fair guess.

    Additionally, from Dan Bricklin []:

    You can see pictures of the ballot on the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Election's web site ... What isn't obvious from these pictures is exactly how the ballots aligned with the holes in real machines. has an AP picture that shows one situation without the card but a real holder. The artist's conception many others are showing doesn't look as realistic.
    Nineteen thousand. People with poor vision, people who received incorrect sample ballots. It's obvious that the statistical anomoly is there, especially when graphed []. So rather than grousing about how dumb people are, why not design a ballot that doesn't skew the result?
  • by Sodium Attack ( 194559 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @12:22PM (#635345)
    Jeffrey says that it is "completely believable to me" that there were 3,000 Buchanan supporters again voting for their man in the Palm Beach area this Tuesday.

    Funny, then, that it's not believable to Buchanan himself. []

  • Have any of you taken a look at the actual NUMBERS in this, to see where the problems might lie?

    The Democrats are saying that the fact that 3,000 people voted Reform in Palm Beach county indicates somebody was comitting fraud.

    The Reform party got 30,000 votes in Palm Beach county in 1996. Is it really that far-fetched that 1/10th of those people would vote Reform again, just four years later?

    The Democrats are calling "fraud" because 300 people voted Libertarian in Lake county, while there are only 112 registered Libertarians.

    However, in 1996, 259 people voted for the same Libertarian candidate, and there were even fewer registered Libertarians then.

    In point of fact, there are several Libertarians in that area who are registered as Republicans and running for office, much less voting.

    Al Gore is desperately trying to snatch a victory out of his defeat. He should just give up and start working on 2004.

  • by sdo1 ( 213835 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @07:35AM (#635386) Journal
    It's not reasonable. Period. Unless they show that there was willful misconduct and election fraud (which I've seen no evidence of there being), I can't see how they can allow them to vote again.

    Imagine all of the Nader supporters going back to the polls... but THIS time, they know just how incredibly important their vote is for getting a liberal into the White House. I could all but guarantee you that the Nader vote shrinks to close to zero and those votes go to Gore. This would be true at the county level, state level, or national level.

  • by CgiJobs ( 114410 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @07:37AM (#635393)
    In any case, the recount results are skewing heavily to Gore, so my whole point may be moot. Let's hope so.

    That's because the big counties -- which went heavily to Gore -- have already reported. For the most part, the counties remaining are smaller, rural counties which were won handily by Bush. See for yourself [].
  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @07:41AM (#635440) Homepage
    There are a few people casting ascerbic comments about the "idiots" who mis-voted. These folk seem to be genuinely astonished that anyone could misread the ballot.

    I'd like to present the likely user scenario:

    The senior citizen, with coke bottle glasses and still near-sighted, places the ballot down. Knowing the value of a vote and wishing to avoid making a mistake, he is cautious to a fault.

    He points to the top-most candidate with his left hand, and the top punch-out with his right hand, and reads the name. Bush. Not the fellow he wishes to vote for; a Bush has been running the state, and our senior ain't happy with the Bush politics.

    He moves both hands down one spot. Reads the name. Gore. Now that young whippersnapper has a brain in his head! Wants to vote for him. Checks that he's pointing at the second hole. Punches it out. Submits his ballot, happy that he's Done The Right Thing.

    But because he was so fastidious, he made a mistake: this ballot wasn't arranged like the ballots he's used in the previous sixteen elections.

    Oopsy. And not because the old guy was stupid, but because he was so careful to track the form "correctly!" The form was a user interface nightmare and was not tested before being put into use.


  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @04:22PM (#635524)
    > In 1996, 15,000 ballots were thrown away in Palm Beach county because people punched two candidates.

    If this is true (I haven't seen it anywhere except /., and the number varies between the reports), if it is true, it would be interesting to know whether the same "butterfly" style ballot was used in '96. Without more details, your argument could be used to support either side of the case. [James Baker was just shown on PBS defending the ballot on the grounds that it has been used before, but he did not give the details of when and where.]

    > BTW, not all those "two candidate" votes were Gore and Buchanan.

    I hate to ask you for a source on that, because demanding a source is a favorite tactic of trolls, but I've really been trying to find statistics on that distribution, and so far I have not even been able to find out whether the ballots still exist.

    Also, what do you mean by "not all"? Some background noise might be expected, but it should either be randomly distributed or else (presumably) tend to pair off candidates with similar political philosophies. If the pairings were essentially random, then I would buy it as noise. If they tended to be Bush-Buchanan or Gore-Nader, then I would buy it as ill-informed voters attempting to pick a set of favorites. I would not object to disqualifying all ballots in those categories.

    But if you get lots of Bush-Nader or Gore-Buchanan pairs, beyond a random distribution, then I would suspect a problem with the system. A large spike of Gore-Buchanan double punches would be particularly revealing, in light of the allegations of a confusing ballot.

    FWIW, I call on the State of Florida to publish the details of the 19,000 disqualified ballots.
  • by cleanmachine ( 155967 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:49AM (#635618)
    Additional information gathered from an NPR call-in yesterday. (I don't know if they have been confirmed.)
    • The actual ballots were different from the sample ballots given out ahead of time, adding to the probability of mistakes.
    • At least one woman, realizing that she had accidently voted for Buchanan instead of Gore, was not allowed to a new ballot. Instead, the election working took the ballot from her hand. Note: Instructions on sample ballot said that if a voter made a mistake while punching out a ballot, he/she should tell an election officer and the voter would receive a new ballot.

    It's absolutely amazing that a something like this could affect the election. I hope that someone investigates this.

  • by ranessin ( 205172 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:52AM (#635646)
    "Come on, if someone can't figure that out, they really shouldn't be voting."

    I'm tired of this Bullshit! Everyone's votes counts, and everyone should be allowed to vote. Just because someone doesn't meet your standard of intelligence doesn't mean they're not worthy of voting for the candidate of their choice.


  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:56AM (#635682) Homepage
    Ehm yes...thank you, that made it even more clear to me that the Electoral College system is totally unfair, I would even go as far as saying that it's NOT democratic at all. People should choose the president, not states.

    That's right, it's not democratic. It's not supposed to be. We are not a democracy, we are a "republic". The rational behind the EC was to have the states elect the president, with the states using the popular vote to decide how they voted. This also prevented the "mob rule" problems inherent in true democratic governments.

    I find it humerous that the democrats that were on TV last week expousing the virtues of an electorial college system (when it was assumed that Gore would win the EC, but lose the popular vote) are now calling for it's removal and complaining how unfair it is :)

  • by imp ( 7585 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:57AM (#635692) Homepage
    It certainly looks like an outlier in the data. Knowing what I know about stats, I'd say that the math is good.

    I would caution, however, that I've not run a T test or a chi-squared test or any other measure to see if this is really an outlier. It looks like one to me. However, with so few data points, it is hard, statistically speaking, to know for sure if it is an outlier, or just an unlikely, but statitically insignficant event. Mean and standard deviation do not tell the whole store.

    I know I have a bias here. My personal solution to all the problems would be to apportion the invalid votes. If there's a vote for Bush and Buchanan, each gets 1/2 a vote. Add up the numbers, round down to the nearest whole vote and you are golden.

    I've also seen references to Florida law that specifically states that ballots have an "X" on the right side of the name of candidates only. Don't know how true that is, but that would make these ballots illegal. If they are illegal, then the courts would have to deside what the most appropriate legal remedy would be. I don't envy them that task.

    It would also would like to see a statistical analysis of the delta in the votes as a percentage of voters done. It seems on its surface that the 700-odd votes that were missing in the original count seems high for a county the size of Palm Beach. Almost all the other country results seem to be about what I'd expect. But all the counties aren't in yet, so it is hard to know for sure.

    I'd also compare this year's results with prior years that Buchanan ran to see if there are any statistical differences between the two.

    There are Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics :-)

    I don't see a problem if there was 100% voter turnout. Isn't that what this country is about?

    I also have a big problem with people dismissing the elderly or anybody else that got confused. They aren't so feeble minded to not know how they wanted to vote. In an ideal world they would vote in a way that made it clear that were little or no room for errors. Having helped the elderly on many occasions, I know they need special attentions that younger folks don't need. On the other hand, younger folks tend to need other things the elderly don't so the accomidations made to the elderly aren't that special all things considered.

    Another mathematical fact. Right now the electoral college gives smaller states more power because they have proportionally more votes than their large bretheren. If we subtract out this bias by subtracting 2*states one from each candidates total, one see that Gore wins with 220 votes (219 needed in this hypothetical situation).

    Finally, damn this is a barn burner.

  • by Ereth ( 194013 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:57AM (#635698) Homepage
    I vote in Duval County, Florida and the ballot here was not the same as that in Broward, BUT the system is similar (and always has been). The names of the candidates occupy two lines (President, then Vice-President), so even if the opposite page is blank (as it is here in Duval), the second candidate was STILL the third hole down (and always HAS been). You have always had to look at the arrows to see which hole to punch.

    If the voters in Broward were confused, they would've been confused by the ballot we used up here in Duval as well (just look at the samples printed everywhere and remove the right hand page and it's exactly what we had in Duval).

    In addition, I find it incredibly hard to believe that someone could go through that ballot, being confused and picking the wrong hole, then continuing on through the other 10 pages or so, and then, upon reaching the parking spot, having just voted for many candidates and issues, suddenly have the realization that they misunderstood the very first page and voted wrong. At least not in the numbers being anecdotally reported. While they may have voted wrong, I doubt they all realized it in the parking lot.

  • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:58AM (#635710) Journal
    If the old people in Florida can't follow simple directions, then maybe they shouldn't be voting. The ballots here in Ohio are almost identical to the ballots in South Palm Beach. And there's no spike of Buchanan votes here.

    Point of fact - the alleged confusion is supposed to arise due to the placement of the Democrat and Reform party punches, not the Republican one (which was pretty clearly located first on the ballot). Since the ballots in question were used in the West Palm Beach area, it might be useful to check how the numbers broke down there. Acc ording to CNN: []

    Gore carried the county by more than 110,000 votes, but the 3,407 votes for Buchanan were by far the most of any Florida county, and almost 20 percent of his total vote in the state.

    Since the original margin between the Bush and Gore was only 1784 votes, I'd call that signifigant.

    Additional evidence that the ballots may have caused widespread confusion, from the same article: []

    Officials in Palm Beach announced 19,120 ballots in the presidential race were tossed out before they were counted because more than one candidate was picked. Only 3,783 voters made that mistake on the U.S. Senate portion of the ballot. "That total is a high number," said Palm Beach County Commissioner Carol Roberts, who is part of the canvassing board that is conducting the recount.

    So, another comparison, this time of the two-selection error rate on two different parts of the ballot. More than 19,000 voters selected two presidential candidates, which is more than five times as many as made the same mistake for senators, and more than ten times as many as Bush's lead statewide.

    Say what you want to about Daley, Jackson, Mfume, and whomever else you feel is a little too leftward leaning for your tastes. But the numbers do tell a story here.

  • by Paul Komarek ( 794 ) <> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:00AM (#635721) Homepage
    1) When trashing media, consider that NPR was far more responsible in assigning states to candidates. Just trash the commercial media.

    2) Why prosecute people that had difficulty with the ballot? I had to transcribe about 50 answers on my SAT when I discovered I had accidently skipped a bubble. There's no eraser in a 'punch'-type voting booth. Look for numbers of how many Palm Beech or Florida ballots were punched twice, and hence discarded. I think the number is around 19,000. Of course, they should have just asked for new ballots, but humans are humans.

    2.5) Especially, why prosecute elderly people who had problems with the ballots? These people have seen more wars, recessions, and changes in their lifetimes than anyone 'smart' enough to write "First Post" on slashdot. The ability to mindlessly follow arbitrary directions (for instance, working with computers...) is a learned skill, not a sign of intelligence. Saving enough money over your lifetime to retire to a warm climate, OTOH, is probably a better sign of intelligence.

    3) Majority Rules? Our entire system of government is built around thwarting "Majority Rules". Go read the Federalist Papers and Constitution for more insight into the subtle problems of democracy and majority tyranny.

    Most of the Slashdot posters can't bother to RTFM when it comes to their own government.

    -Paul Komarek
  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:29AM (#635730)
    Ok, I can buy his argument that as the size of the group increases towards towards some asymptote we'll call "majority", the power of the individual vote should go down in some proportion so that the minority isn't swamped by the majority. The way this is done, I suppose, is to just give slightly proportionally less electoral votes to really really large states. But that's still at a macroscopic, very high-grain (or is it low-grain) level.

    Even if he is theoretically correct, and that we could formulate the optimum "minority"/"majority" point (is it at 75%? 85%? 51%?), I think that in the current state of politics this wouldn't matter anyway. The whole presumption is that each voter is 1) trustworthy/caring, 2) informed. The percentage of people who actually fulfill both of these requirements may themselves a minority! The fact is, people aren't voting for politicians based on the facts, based on their records. Many people vote based on fuzzy things like "likability", and "appearance". They vote because the million dollar hype machines have stuck the right memes in their heads. They vote because Britney Spears told em to. And if you think this is a one-sided tirade against the "average American", I happen to believe that it is also largely the political parties' faults for playing right along - they're all too glad to lower the criteria for the election process to things they can win: convincing people win tons of commercials paid by PACs and soft money, going around repeating the same tired old scripts.

    Now consider *that* case and the electoral college. The actual *merits* of the candidates matter much less than the money they can spend (funded by those interests who want to buy policy) to convince voters. So given an equal amount of vested interests (hey, many of these big corporations give money to *both* campaigns just to make sure that no matter who wins they get their agenda pushed), and consequently a pretty equal amount of hyping and advertising, you can imagine voter results to be much more uniform than you'd otherwise expect (*cough* win popular vote by a fraction of one percent *cough*).

    So the choice is either 1) clean up the damn system so the above scenario doesn't happen, and the electoral college works correctly, or 2) reform or abolish electoral college. The ironic thing is, 1 cannot be accomplished *because* of the electoral college stemming any progressive change. So it may be that we have to reform or abolish the electoral college, so that we can actually have a chance to clean up politics, so that the system works as it was intended to in the first place!
  • by RedX ( 71326 ) <redx.wideopenwest@com> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:00AM (#635735)
    If the old people in Florida can't follow simple directions, then maybe they shouldn't be voting. The ballots here in Ohio are almost identical to the ballots in South Palm Beach. And there's no spike of Buchanan votes here.

    Perhaps this was true in your part of Ohio, but here in Franklin County our ballots were giant pages (probably larger than 16" x 12") with no holes, just computerized buttons to push. The Presidents were each listen in their own 2-3" boxes on the top left of the page with their corresponding button clearly placed. Anyone who claims to have been misled by *this* ballot has some more serious problems to worry about. I've seen the Palm Beach County ballots in question and can easily see how people were misled, especially considering the voters were given a different ballot layout in advance.

  • by Trinition ( 114758 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:01AM (#635742) Homepage

    Look, the first problem is not with the pages alone. Its how the pages lined up with the holes. Check out the mock image [] I threw together. The black dots are where holes might have been if there was play in the ballot book. The light grey dots is where they should've been (and where the one news photo I've seen shows them).

    The stories from people just don't match that perfectly aligned news photo. But if you consider that the holes could've been shifted (really, the book would've been what shifted, but for all intensive purposes...) you can see how it could be confusing. One lady said she saw a dot RIGHT NEXT to the word Democratic, not the separating line above -- that turned out to be the Buchanan hole.

    But there is another problem people have cited. If you go in there thinking only of two candidates, Bush and Gore, you look only for those two. In English, we read left->right, top->bottom, left_page->right_page. You could easily say "First one is Bush, so that's teh first hole... Second one is Gore so that must be the second hole!". Why read further? Why examine the right page at all when your candidate isn't over there? Remember, your hindsight is 20/20, so don't be so quick to label these people as "stupid" or you might be so yourself!

    The fact is, the ballot was redsigned on to two pages so they could use bigger fonts to make it easier to read. That was a nice idea. But, they never evaluated what the other ramifications were.

    Furthermore, the sample ballots sent out to the voters, etc. were paper books! There were no holes in there, no gap, etc. It was not what the ballot actually was. No one could've guessed.

  • by lee ( 17524 ) <> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:30AM (#635747) Homepage
    1) Print out the alleged bad ballot.
    2) Now place it horizontally about chest to collarbone level and at half an arms length away.

    The arrows seem a lot closer together!

    If it is like my poll the holes are physically under the ballot book by nearly the distance the holes are separated from each other. This means that unless you can look at it from above, which is not possible if you are short and the ballot and book are in fixed positions, again like at my poll, then the arrow appears to point between two holes.

    In other paper ballot elections I attended, the ballots and books were designed so that unneeded holes were covered and there was never any doubt which holes to punch.

    The palm beach ballot design my seem ok at first glance, but in use it would be quite ambiguous. This also explains why it was initially approved by the dems.

    My ballot had similar problems but only on pages that were for the reelection of judges. Some other issues had several places between them. I noticed when i got to the right half of the page and the punch was already punched. This is a bigger problem for me since i am short.
  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:04AM (#635772) Homepage
    that made it even more clear to me that the Electoral College system is totally unfair

    Unfair in the sense that 4 populous states (CA, FL, NY, and TX) can't impose their will on the rest of the country, yes. You have to have AT LEAST a dozen states to win under an electoral system, but under a popular system you can basically promise every federal dollar to those four states and the rest fo the country can go to hell...

  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:04AM (#635787) Homepage
    I'm tired of this Bullshit! Everyone's votes counts, and everyone should be allowed to vote. Just because someone doesn't meet your standard of intelligence doesn't mean they're not worthy of voting for the candidate of their choice.

    True, but you must have the basic motor coordination and reasoning skills to physically cast your vote. If you cannot communicate your choice on a simple ballot that 99.999% of the population either understands, or has the forsight to ask for help before randomly punching holes, than that is YOUR problem.

    Maybe next time we should have computer monitors with great big colored buttons and a windows-style "are you really sure yes/no" dialogue boxes for the voters in palm beach.

  • by Sebbo ( 28048 ) <sebbo@seb[ ]org ['bo.' in gap]> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:04AM (#635790) Homepage Journal
    Here's [] a plot of the distribution of votes in the relevant Florida precincts.
  • by spam-o-tron mk1 ( 237603 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:30AM (#635804) Homepage
    Jesse Ventura, where are you? The nation needs you! You're the only one with the connections, the expertise, and the lack of major party affiliation to do what needs to be done:


    Gore vs. Bush in a steel cage. Cheney and Lieberman waiting for the tag. Both houses of Congress on the sidelines threatening to turn the match into a full-on bicameral brawl!

    There has never an opportunity like this before, and there probably won't be one again.

    What are you waiting for?


  • by Hoarke42 ( 77421 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:31AM (#635810)
    I just love how the people figure out they voted for the wrong person afterwards as though some great epiphany comes with lights from heaven and angels singing.

    It was "figured out" by the rep for the district who said something along the lines of "There's no way that many people here voted for Buchanan, something must be wrong". Even though a similar amoung of votes for the Reform party came from there last election...

    I HAVE seen the pictures of the Florida ballots. Come on, if someone can't figure that out, they really shouldn't be voting. In fact, they'd probably struggle with the games here: []
  • by Rahga ( 13479 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:05AM (#635811) Journal
    In the Republican primary in that exact same area, thanks to support from a relative, Buchanan got up to 8,000 votes in 1996. In a primary, where a very small number of republicans actually turn out compared to election days. Of course, that was way before he left the party, but it is more than reasonable that he still has between 1/3rd of the supporters that he did back then. Saying "this is wrong because every other country voted differently." is complete bull. And, as most of us who's visited know, you never visit Palm Beach without seeing something odd. Anyway....

    I would like to remind everyone that the electoral college works. Just because New York and California really really want Gore to win doesn't mean that the rest of the country wants what Gore represents. Imagine if the EU existed during Hitler's rise to power, and Nazi Germany dominated the popular vote for the elections to president of the EU. This is all hypothetical, but I'm simply afraid that a lot of people don't understand the power balancing that the electoral college brings.
  • by phantomlord ( 38815 ) <> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:05AM (#635813) Journal
    We know that the Rep. kept hold on the house (by a small margin) but it still gives us a pretty good foresight into what would happen

    The method by which the House would select the president is that each state would get a vote, not each representative. Take for example Texas... although heavily republican, 18 of the 30 districts in Texas elected a democrat -- meaning Texas would actually vote for Gore in the House. I don't have time to break down every state but I think it'd be a pretty close margin and not necessarily in favor of Bush.

    but when you figure Gore has the majority vote and Bush has the electoral you have to wonder what this country is going

    Actually, a large reason for the existance of the electoral college is to give smaller states a louder voice. The ~300,000 votes in North Dakota pale in comparison to the 6 million we're arguing about in Florida. If we go purely popular vote, the urban areas then dictate what happens to the rest of the country( we actually have this same problem here in NY with NYC dominating the entire rest of the state in state elections ).

    Finally I think the press rigged this for the ratings.

    We definitely agree there. The media stands to gain a lot of money in advertising revenue by making the election draw out as long as possible. The whole purpose of the Voters News Service, which is made up of the major news networks, is to help them "guide" their coverage. I don't see why we can't just wait 12 hours and wake up to see who won the election (of course, that means less ratings and thus less money for the tv news companies) rather than calling states before their polls close or influence the western states by calling the major eastern states early.

  • by pingflood ( 105369 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:31AM (#635814) they're still awaiting the overseas absentee ballots. Last year there were some 2,300 of them, and that may (depending on recount results) be enough to change things around...


    PS -- Not to mention we have another month and change before the electoral college vote; if Bush ends up with 271 of the electorals, no telling what could happen there.

  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:06AM (#635817)
    ...and both of their wives on the sidelines in spandex, weilding chairs...

    ew...maybe not...
  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:06AM (#635823) Homepage
    Most of the Democrats who were in favor of the electoral system last week are still in favor of it (for example, this guy named Gore who you may have heard of -- still in favor of the electoral college, as well as all his publicly speaking advisors).

  • by dboyles ( 65512 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:24AM (#635828) Homepage
    The form was a user interface nightmare and was not tested before being put into use.

    It sounds like you want 3 inch square buttons with the candidates' names on them as a means of voting. The ballot was as clear as day to me. Not only is there an arrow pointing from the candidate's name to the hole you should punch for that candidate, there is a number next to the arrow that corresponds to the number in the hole that you punch! I would be embarrassed to claim that was confusing to me. I would be embarrased to live in West Palm Beach county.

    I'm not sure why you think the ballot wasn't tested prior to be putting into use. Republicans and Democrats reviews the ballot and OKed it. Why was this issue not brought up earlier? This just astonishes me.
  • by don_carnage ( 145494 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:32AM (#635835) Homepage
    If you're interested in learning just what the hell the Electoral College is good for, then check out this link: ele ctoral-college.htm []


  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:33AM (#635839) Homepage Journal
    One of the comments that's been made is that there were something in the order of 19,000 ballot papers in Palm Beach County that were punched twice and therefore spoilt. The assumption's been made, though I don't think anyone can tell for sure without examining each, that many of these were people who punched both holes by the candidates they chose assuming that they had to vote for both President and VP. Given the Democratic majority in Palm Beach County, it's reasonable to assume that the vast majority of the spoilt papers would have been votes for Gore/Lieberman.

    But one thing that's been absent in news of this is an analysis of how many papers spoilt in a similar way Palm Beach County would normally expect, given the demographics.

    Does anyone know what the deal is there?

    For more news on this, check out The Palm Beach Post [].

  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:41AM (#635859) Homepage
    Ok, what have we learned from Campaign 2000 - First, the media is irresponsible. The early projection of Florida was idiocy at its finest. This election was and is still too close to call, yet the media egos want to be the first one to call the winner, as if anyone cares who called it first. I think the media needs to examine the use of exit polls, and also needs to get back to reporting raw numbers.

    So what you're saying is that the media called "First post!" and then got moderated down?
  • by beagle ( 99378 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:36AM (#635869)
    Did anybody actually see the ballot? While I agree that it could have been better designed (our NC ballot was pretty good, FWIW) anybody who was paying attention would not have voted for the wrong party.

    See the ballot for yourself here [].

  • Radio commentators are claiming that the number of Buchannan votes in the county in question are in the same proportion to the number of registered Reform Party members in the county as in other large Florida counties with significant amounts of Reform Party membership. A neighborhood full of Buchannan voters in a retirement community would hardly be surprising.

    Norstadt's graph doesn't show the proportion of Reform Party registrants. So it is useless in distinguishing between the hypotheses (Democrat confusion vs. a concentration of either Reform Party voters or Buchannan supporters.)

    More interesting might be a scatter-plot of Buchannan votes/Reform registration vs Gore votes/Democrat registration in counties with non-trivial Buchannan vote counts.

    Such a graph would be so much MORE informative than Buchannan/Bush ratio that it raises the question of whether Norstadt chose that ratio because makes a good-looking graph for the Gore camp's "confused seniors" argument.

    (Note, if you try to check this stat, that the Reform Party is called the "Independent Party" in Florida.)

    (And no, I haven't researched this myself.)
  • by ToLu the Happy Furby ( 63586 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @07:07AM (#635880)
    Just for the record, their father stole the 1960 presidential election for Kennedy away from Nixon.

    Just for the record, that's a myth. []

    Fascinating article, but the upshot of it is that contrary to what is being stated in your post, there is no proof that voting fraud occured in that election on a significant scale. More importantly, contrary to popular belief and nearly every major newspaper this morning, Nixon did not concede the election out concern for the country's well-being, and neither did the charges go uninvestigated. Indeed, there were major investigations into allegations of voting fraud not just in Chicago but all over the nation, and all of them exonerated Kennedy.

    In any case, it's important to remember that, due in no small part to the popular belief that he was robbed in 1960, Nixon got his presidency in 1968. So too did the two candidates in our history who actually were "robbed" by the electoral college (i.e. they won the popular vote but couldn't carry a majority in the e.c.), Andrew Jackson and Benjamin Harrison--both won the presidency 4 years later.

    Interesting to see what Gore will do...
  • There is absolutely no excuse for blinding poking holes in a ballot card without carefully reading and verifying what you're doing.

    Similarly, there's no excuse for you to blindly punch keys without carefully reading your console output and verifying that you'd typed an adverb. Now that you made that simple mistake once, you are to be held to it for all time to come, and you must henceforth be regarded as a person to thinks "blinding" is an adverb.

    Good thing the consequences of your mistake aren't being held to national scrutiny. I wonder how you'd feel?

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:44AM (#635899) Homepage Journal
    Think of it as a UI design problem.

    I had a similar problem with a UI a did for a Palm Pilot application that had to do with spacing of labels in closely spaced checkboxes (you don't have lots of room on a pilot). The users complained that it caused lots of problems, even though if you looked carefully at it, it was clear which checkbox belonged to each label and the users worked with the application every single day.

    Naturally, I had to change it and split the form across multiple pages.

    It's also important to note that many voters who made a mistake were forced to submit their ballot once punched. The poll workers did not allow them to destroy their ballot and get a new one.

    So, you have a bad user interface that gives you one chance to get it right.

  • by dmuth ( 14143 ) <doug.muth+slashdot@gma i l . com> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:38AM (#635900) Homepage Journal
    Since it seems that this whole election is coming down to Florida, I think people will find this article [] to be of interest. It talks about vote fraud occuring back in 1997, where the ex-mayor of Miami, Xavier Suarez, had his election overturned on charges of vote fraud.

    What's slightly more disturbing is that the article goes on to say:

    Suarez now sits on the executive committee of the Miami-Dade Republican party and was specifically involved this year in helping get out the Republican vote
    Is it just me, or does anybody else see this as a significant problem? Especially with the outcome of this election hinging on Florida's vote.
  • by phantomlord ( 38815 ) <> on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:38AM (#635903) Journal
    I've been thinking this morning about the elections... My calculations on the statiscal probability of the outcome currently shows Bush winning by a 540 vote margin. Either way with a number that close and all the controversy over fraud/misvotes/the early call, both campaigns have the ability to challenge the outcome in court. More on that in a minute... but if you go back to the 1960 election, Chicago and other areas were ripe with fraud benefitting the dems and Nixon, being the leader that he was, got up and said that he wouldn't challenge the vote because it was in the best interest of the office of the presidency to let it stand. Kinda funny that the man later nearly brought down with an impeachment cares more about the rule of law than the man who got off on the iced tea defense, huh?

    Anyways... The ballots in Miami-Dade county should stand by law because all challenges to the ballot format must be made before the first vote is cast and ALL voters and campaigns in that county received an instructional copy of the ballot weeks before the election. That leaves outright fraud( forged absentee ballots, dead people voting, etc ) and the suppression of republican voters in the west(due to the early miscall of Florida going to Gore) as the most likely challenges.

    I think a court ABSOLUTELY must not allow a revote. It would be unfair for one county or one state to have the power to elect the president knowing the status of the rest of the vote before walking into the booth. It also wouldn't be fair for a court to statistically modify the vote of Miami-Dade county based on demographic or other information as the votes were cast and if people were truly unsure of their vote, they could have asked for help from the officials at the polling center.

    If there isn't a decisive winner, I think the ONLY fair thing to do, and this may rise to the level of a decision by the Supreme Court, would be to throw out the ENTIRE 25 electoral votes in Florida as if they had gone to a different candidate. Because neither man received a majority of the electoral votes(270), the Constitution says it is up to the newly elected House of Representatives to select the President. It seems the only way to ensure the rule of law is obeyed.

  • by ponxx ( 193567 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @07:09AM (#635916)
    I don't live in america and from what I hear this might go against the instincts of keeping "the government" from interfering in local matters, but surely for a presidential election it would be logical to have the same ballot paper layout everywhere in the nation?

    Even if you have different candidates on it for senate/house/initiatives/whatever else, it should not be that difficult to define a certain format. I think it has a significant impact for a example in which order the candidates are presented, how easy it is to tell where to make your cross/punch a hole even if you are old and far-sighted.

    What I'm trying to say, have the same layout everywhere, the same mechanism for voting, and no-one is going to complain afterwards because 100s of lawyers would look at it before. As I understand it at the moment every county has its own ballot paper (is that right?). Is there any good reason for that???

  • by vitaflo ( 20507 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:46AM (#635934) Homepage
    You obviously don't watch wrestling.

    How the hell are you stupposed to have a legal tag team match in a steal cage? Where exactly are you supposed to wait for the tag? There's no room on the apron, because the cage is there, and waiting outside the ring for the tag would defeat the purpose of a tag match.

    Now, if we were talking about a Hell in a Cell, I can start taking this a little more seriously.
  • by eam ( 192101 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @06:47AM (#635963)
    Nope. I would have been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but not anymore. Now that I've seen the ballot that everyone is complaining about, I think the news media have been exaggerating. That ballot is perfectly reasonable. It might not be the best possible configuration, but there is nothing wrong with it. Anyone who couldn't manage to vote correctly with that ballot should be declared mentally incompetent.

    I just don't have any sympathy for anyone who could screw that up.

    The high concentration of mistakes might just mean that there is a high concentration of incompetent voters in that area.

    PS - Thanks for posting the link to the ballot.
  • I should also add:

    The Democrats are claiming fraud because 19,000 ballots in Palm Beach county had to be thrown away because people punched two candidates.

    In 1996, 15,000 ballots were thrown away in Palm Beach county because people punched two candidates.

    BTW, not all those "two candidate" votes were Gore and Buchanan. How do you explain the ones that were for another combination of candidates?

  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @09:43AM (#635987) Homepage
    People have said that the actual ballots and the sample ones were "different", but I've seen pictures of both, and I don't see the difference. Maybe one of the pictures was faked up?

    A friend of mine has a sample ballot that was faked to him, and he has a "real" ballot. The only difference is that the sample ballot does not have the holes in it; the placement of names and arrows is the same.

    He tried his kids (8, 10) on the sample ballot. He gave them 20 seconds to indicate "how do you vote for Gore". Then he asked them "how do you vote for Buchannan", and at this point, the 8-year-old had to ask how you spell Buchannan. Both were able to pick the right dot.

    If that's "too confusing", we have more serious problems than who gets elected. :)

    Or maybe they were just the same, and people are scrabbling to find explanations.

    Mistakes were made. Both parties approved them in advance. We don't overturn elections over stupid mistakes, *even* if we think they might have changed the outcome. We certainly can't give one county the option of *CHANGING* their votes based on new information - but there's no way to prevent a do-over from being a *change* in the vote. At that point, it's unfair to the *other* 100,000,000 voters that none of *US* are allowed to reconsider our votes based on what we know of nationwide turnout.

  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @07:11AM (#635988) Homepage
    It's nice to know what you'd like to discriminate against the physically handicapped.

    From the post you responded to
    If you cannot communicate your choice on a simple ballot that 99.999% of the population either understands, or has the forsight to ask for help before randomly punching holes, than that is YOUR problem.

    I never said they can't vote, but if they cannot correctly do it themselves, they should ask for help.

    It gives us all a good look at the kind of person you really are.

    And I know what kind of person you are. Someone who glances at something, doesn't read the whole thing and acts impulsivly on it. You are a Palm Beach voter, aren't you? :)


  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:43AM (#636003) Homepage
    CmdrTaco, on behalf of all writers, English teachers, linguists, crossword puzzle solvers and spelling bee champions, I would just like to say: "We love you!"
  • by JeffryG138 ( 215475 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:44AM (#636005)
    Those who did not vote have no right to complain about the outcome

    Wow. First off, who are you to say that my right of freedom is speech is dependent on my responsibility to vote? I did jury duty this year -- can I at least moan a little? If people were confused by the ballots, then the ballots are confusing. I can see the mistake... second person listed, second hole. It is a dumb design. A lot of us may have the ability to figure it out, but the right to vote isn't dependent on your ability to figure out the layout of the ballot. NPR had an interview with a young lady that accidentally marked the wrong candidate (Patty-Patty Buke Buke), realized it, went out and asked for another ballot, and was denied -- nice. Anyhow...
  • by don_carnage ( 145494 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:44AM (#636010) Homepage
    They said that once the card was slipped into the machine, that it was even more difficult.'s a good question: why the hell are we using punch cards still for something as important as an election? Shouldn't we be using technology that isn't 50 years old?

  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @07:13AM (#636022) Homepage
    First off, the registered voters all saw the ballot in advance, and none of them complained *then*.

    Secondly, I think we should consider the implications of allowing a re-vote in this one county. These people would be voting, not based on what option they chose on election day, but based on the knowledge that the entire election outcome depends on them. I bet you'd get a lot more republicans coming out to vote. Some Nader supporters might switch.

    However, this *isn't fair*. You aren't allowed to wait until you know what other people in your area do, *then* vote. If they get to re-do this, the only fair thing is for *everyone* to re-do this. In which case, several *other* states will probably flip-flop, one way or another, as apathetic voters who thought the state was a wrap-up for their side run out and make sure it is this time.

    Yes, it sucks if people were confused. The time to bring that up was when people in *BOTH* major parties *REVIEWED* these ballots, quite some time ago.

    In the mean time, whatever the recount says, it's better if we accept it and move on, than if we spend the next four years throwing accusations around.
  • by Bucket58 ( 66579 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @05:44AM (#636041) Homepage
    Um... Have you seen the ballots there??? Ohio's ballot has all the candidiates for Pres on the left side of the page.. Each punchhole is separated by at least a row of punches.

    like this.

    Bush -> 0
    Buch.-> 0
    Gore -> 0


    Palm Beach look's like this. []

    When you are as old as some of these people are, would you like someone to tell you that you can't vote because you might screw up? 19,000+ people did this. One is a mistake, a couple of mistakes is coincidence, but this many mistakes just doesn't happen.

    -- Bucket
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday November 09, 2000 @07:50AM (#636116)
    >'s a good question: why the hell are we using punch cards still for something as important as an election?

    There are some serious problems with electronic voting. For a start on the topic, visit the comp.risks newsgroup and read the last couple of journal posts there.

    Interestingly, among the comments is one insisting that all voting software must be open source. But there are lots of other interesting issues. Perhaps biggest of all being the question of whether legislators would understand the difference between "desirable" features and "necessary" features in an e-voting system.

    > Shouldn't we be using technology that isn't 50 years old?

    Erm, I think you're trying to apply the Microsoft anti-Linux Howto to the wrong problem.

    IMO we should use a system that provides a trail that the voter can invoke to prove his/her vote (but that cannot be traced backward to identify how a given voter voted).

    For example, use a paper ballot with a number, and a detachable tag with the same number. (That is probably a naive/buggy solution, but) if you had something like that that really worked, the voters of Palm Beach could now use their tags to demonstrate that the county's results did/didn't reflect their actual preferences.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes