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Comment How many votes are they counting? (Score 1) 500

I am a poll worker in Virginia and work at the absentee precinct, where we receive all the absentee ballots for the county. We process the paper ballots and run them through an optical scanner. Self-printed ballots (typically received from military overseas), ones with tears, and ones unreadable by the scanner are put aside for handcounting. This is typically less than 20% of the ballots.

For small elections, the hand counting process can take 1-2 hours, depending on the number of races. In 2008, that process took over 7 hours because of the number of ballots involved (thousands).

While we can process and feed the ballots all day, we're not allowed to start tallying until after the poll closing time (7pm). I cannot imagine how long this process would take if all ballots were paper and hand tallied. Easily days. If you thought the 2000 presidential election stretched on too long, imagine not knowing who won for a week.

And this is not including the in-person absentee ballots received the month prior to election day using computer polling stations (we just print out the totals from each station).

Comment Re:Will referee? (Score 1) 206

If the journal is in one of the bundles that your institution subscribes to, then it is 'free' to the end user. If it isn't, then you pay $30 or so, and this comes out of your grant, which means filling in extra paperwork.

Does your institution not have interlibrary loan?


Survey Shows That Fox News Makes You Less Informed 1352

A survey of American voters by World Public Opinion shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. One of the most interesting questions was about President Obama's birthplace. 63 percent of Fox viewers believe Obama was not born in the US (or that it is unclear). In 2003 a similar study about the Iraq war showed that Fox viewers were once again less knowledgeable on the subject than average. Let the flame war begin!

Why Overheard Cell Phone Chats Are Annoying 344

__roo writes "American researchers think they have found the answer to the question of why overhearing cell phone chats are annoying. According to scientists at Cornell University, when only half of the conversation is overheard, it drains more attention and concentration than when overhearing two people talking. According to one researcher, 'We have less control to move away our attention from half a conversation (or halfalogue) than when listening to a dialogue. Since halfalogues really are more distracting and you can't tune them out, this could explain why people are irritated.' Their study will be published in the journal Psychological Science."

Fine Print Says Game Store Owns Your Soul 262

mr_sifter writes "UK games retailer GameStation revealed that it legally owns the souls of thousands of customers, thanks to a clause it secretly added to the online terms and conditions for its website. The 'Immortal Soul Clause' was added as part of an attempt to highlight how few customers read the terms and conditions of an online sale. GameStation claims that 88 percent of customers did not read the clause, which gives legal ownership of the customer's soul over to the UK-based games retailer. The remaining 12 percent of customers however did notice the clause and clicked the relevant opt-out box, netting themselves a £5 GBP gift voucher in the process."

Brain Surgery Linked To Sensation of Spirituality 380

the3stars writes "'Removing part of the brain can induce inner peace, according to researchers from Italy. Their study provides the strongest evidence to date that spiritual thinking arises in, or is limited by, specific brain areas. This raises a number of interesting issues about spirituality, among them whether or not people can be born with a strong propensity towards spirituality and also whether it can be acquired through head trauma." One critic's quoted response: "It's important to recognize that the whole study is based on changes in one self-report measure, which is a coarse measure that includes some strange items."

Canadian Blood Services Promotes Pseudoscience 219

trianglecat writes "The not-for-profit agency Canadian Blood Services has a section of their website based on the Japanese cultural belief of ketsueki-gata, which claims that a person's blood group determines or predicts their personality type. Disappointing for a self-proclaimed 'science-based' organization. The Ottawa Skeptics, based in the nation's capital, appear to be taking some action."

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