Jackie Mason | May 5, 2004
[hidden by request]

Anna Gregoline | May 5, 2004
Electronic voting makes crooked politicans gleeful. It just makes it easier to cheat.

And yes, I refrained from mentioning Bush and cronies in the above statement, which I just ruined by mentioning here. Many pardons.

Melissa Erin | May 6, 2004
[hidden by request]

Melissa Erin | May 6, 2004
[hidden by request]

Steve Dunn | May 6, 2004
I'm not sure electronic voting makes it easier to commit vote fraud. It's a lot easier to punch out a huge stack of punch cards than it is to reprogram a computer.

I agree there must be safeguards in place to ensure the accuracy of the count, and there have been demonstrable problems with the new systems. But in the end, I think some form of computerized voting will prove to be much more accurate and reliable than punch cards, optical scanners, and other old technologies. I say let's make sure it's done the right way, but not reject the technology itself.

The amazing thing about Florida in 2000 is that the final margin (Bush wins by a few hundred votes out of six million) was waaaaaay within the margin of error - 3% to 5% for the older methods.

Anna Gregoline | May 6, 2004
I don't remember all that stuff that well, but don't people usually say that Bush didn't win the popular vote?

Kris Weberg | May 6, 2004
He lost the nationwide popular vote by around 500,000 votes. He won Florida in the last completed recount, gaining the state's electoral votes, which rely on popular vote by precinct within that state. Basically, a candidate can lose by a tiny margin in several "key" states, win by a massive amount of votes in other states, and still lose in the Electoral College, because Electoral College votes for a given state can't be split by proportion. It's "winner takes all" per state, so you don't get more for winning big or fewer for squeaking by.

Of course, this is also why third party cnadidates throw a monkeywrench in as well -- they don't have to siphon too many votes in any close state-level race to cost a major-party candidate all of that states votes. If Ralph Nader siphons, say, two hundred votes from Al Gore in Florida, Al Gore loses all 5 electoral votes from Florida. Basically, small numbers of voters cna sometimes have disproportionately large effects in the Electoral College system.

The last President to win the electoral college but lose the national popular vote was Rutherford B Hayes in the 19th century.

Melissa Erin | May 6, 2004
[hidden by request]

Anna Gregoline | May 6, 2004
I don't think it's fair either.

Jackie Mason | May 6, 2004
[hidden by request]

Steve Dunn | May 7, 2004
The idea of the electoral college is to give disproportionate weight to small-population states - kinda like the Senate (every state gets 2 senators, regardless of population). If we went to the popular vote - the theory goes - candidates would concentrate all their efforts on large metropolitan areas (NY, LA, Chicago, Miami) and ignore vast regions of the country (large western states with tiny populations).

Reasonable people disagree about whether it's a good idea, and there are solid arguments on both sides.

Funny story - when I studied the electoral college in... er... college... it was clear that the odds of a president being elected while losing the popular vote were incredibly small. As Kris pointed out, it had happened before, but with a greater number of states and a much larger population it seemed virtually impossible that it could ever happen. So we all figured it was nothing to worry about...

WRONG!!

Anyway, you gotta remember Florida 2000 was truly a bizarre statistical anomaly. Like flipping a coin and it lands on its edge. Not something we should use as a reason to make broad new policy or tinker with the Constitution. Similarly, we should not cite the OJ case as a reason for sweeping reform in the legal system. Truly one-in-a-million events.

Steve Dunn | May 7, 2004
Y'all be good - I'm off to Yellowstone for a while. So don't think I'm ignoring your passionate liberal postings. I'm just not here!

;-)

Kris Weberg | May 7, 2004
Actually, the original idea of the Electoral College, most historians believe, was because the Founders believed very strongly in checks and balances. . Electors historically could and DID vote what they wanted, despite the popular vote. They were appointees of the State legislatures, generally, and often chosen by the major parties of the time for sheer blind loyalty. (Actually, if you go back to the 18th century, Senators were appointed by state legislatures as well.)

There are in records of presidential elections into the 19th century in which the odd member of the Electoral College did go against the popular vote in their state. It was never enough to actually swing an election -- few people being foolish enough to do something that would likely prompt nationwide rebellion -- but it did happen.

However, as time went by and populism became mor edominant in Constitutional interpretatuion and in common law, states passed laws binding electors to reflect the popular vote in their states. Though hey're still state appointees, it's largely honorary now. I doubt any of us could name an Elector today, a reflection of how generally unimportant and ceremonial the position has become.

But basically, the Electoral College is one of those "checks" (of the classic comedy team "checks and balances"). In this case, it's a check on the popular vote.

Scott Hardie | May 8, 2004
And in that capacity, it's still a pointless one. We've been down this road before (too tired to dig up the link to the old discussion), but I happen to believe that democracy is democracy is democracy, even when it's representative in nature. A conservative friend once argued to me that the Electoral College was good because if a bunch of country yokels got taken in by some smooth-talking criminal type who should not hold office, the Elector could override their vote and make the sensible choice instead, to protect them from themselves. But if that system came to pass, what would be the point of even having a vote? Do us yokels get to choose our own representative, or don't we? I would prefer to have a crook elected by the population than an honorable man appointed by a few individuals.

Even with the Electors bound by law to represent the popular vote per district, the Electoral College is still harmful and willfully unfair. Florida is a key state and Maryland is not, so should my vote this November be worth more than Steve West's vote? The historical moments when we granted equal voting rights to blacks and women are now revered moments in American history, so why in the year 2004 are some voters still legally less influential than others? Is this like when a black man had a two-fifths vote against a white man's one-whole vote? In the ballot booth, every American should be equal to every other American, no matter where they live. This isn't just some trivial, academic matter; the Electoral College arbitrarily putting "this guy" into office instead of "that guy" really means something when the man introduces as many global, long-term effects as President Bush has.

For the first time (that I recall), I'm going to have to disagree with Steve's down-to-earth common sense, in this case pertaining to the Electoral College needing no revision to keep it from giving us a different President than the popular vote. Such an event may be a rare statistical anomaly, but Florida 2000 proved that lightning can strike twice. Are we going to ignore a problem just because it's unlikely to repeat itself yet again, or are we going to slap our foreheads for letting it happen to us a second time and finally take some preventative/corrective action? How many more times do we have to get the wrong President in office before we close this stupid loophole? This country has been remarkably good at learning from its own mistakes, so it eludes me why Congress isn't pursuing change on this matter. (I know that a few Senators, including Clinton, suggested in 2000 that it was time to ditch the Electoral College, but to my knowledge nothing came of it. Maybe it's just not a sexy issue, but I know I'd go after it if I were in office.)

Anyway, now that I'm too tired to dig into it, the matter that I really wanted to discuss: Electronic voting. Steve said it, there's less chance of corruption and accidents with e-voting than there is with traditional paper ballots. Being afraid of e-voting because of its negligible potential hazards is like driving cross-country because you're too afraid to fly in a plane, even though planes have miniscule fatality & injury rates compared to automobiles. Let's not allow the specter of hackers who want to be Karl Rove get in the way of dependable, superior technology. (And if e-voting needs a paper trail to be considered trustworthy, install a few printers.)

Jackie Mason | May 9, 2004
[hidden by request]


Want to participate? Please create an account a new account or log in.


Other Discussions Started by Jackie Mason

Student Health Care

[hidden by request] Go »

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Cinema Version

[hidden by request] Go »

All American, Any American

[hidden by request] Go »

Reality Television

[hidden by request] Go »

The Privileges of Royalty

[hidden by request] Go »

Absolutely Horrifying

[hidden by request] Go »