Barry SCHWARTZ (Barijo ŜVARC) (chemoelectric) wrote,

Joseph Cannon's brain is working overtime

I really like the way Joseph Cannon is cogitating on the U.S.'s dismal election process. In case you didn't know, the Bushist Arbeiterspartei has been hard at work diverting the energy for electoral reform into a process of electorate reform -- most notably, requiring photo identification to vote. Cannon sees it my way:
Some believe that this movement is designed to direct attention away from the likelihood of computer fraud. True, but the matter goes deeper. The Republicans hope to suppress participation by the poor and the dispossessed.

That's why I put it the way I do: the Bushists aren't merely distracting us from election reform -- they are using the efforts of election reformers as a vehicle to further destroy our elections.

I blame John Kerry for furthering this degradation. He promised that everyone's vote would be counted, but it was a lie he told for rhetorical purposes. His concern was not whether everyone's vote would be cast and counted, but whether there were enough of these to make a difference in the outcome. Knowing he would not succeed in changing the outcome, Kerry instead preserved his political capital. Democrats need this capital when they go to deal -- in the days when there was a Republican Party, that would have been useful, though if it were me I would have refused to promise people their votes would be counted, insisting my speechwriters find a truthful thing to tell the people.

John Kerry has further promoted the degradation of American elections by not AFAIK suing the Swift Boat Liars. Maybe he has plans to bring such a suit, but I doubt it. He might as well hand out pamphlets declaring his de facto support for libel and slander as means to an end.

More of Cannon's clear cogitation on elections:
A USA Today story outlines the nationwide push to do away with paper-free computer voting. But there is now evidence that the addition of Paper may not do the trick...

Adding to the confusion is a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study that found problems with paper backup for electronic voting machines.

In the study, 36 "voters" used electronic machines to pick candidates and were asked to double-check their ballots using a paper printout. Then they were asked to go through a similar exercise in which their vote choices were played back to them by a computer-generated voice through headphones. Errors were interspersed in the ballots. Only 8% of those using the paper backup caught the errors, compared with 85% using the audio system.

Ted Selker, an authority on human interaction with machines who oversaw the MIT research, said the study supports observations he made of voters using paper backups during recent elections in Chicago and Nevada. "I have lost confidence in paper trails," he said.

Yes, but this addresses only the question of double-checking the choice made in the voting booth, which is not the real issue. The issue is the central tabulators.

Paper receipts are of value only in the case of a recount. Alas, if the margin of announced victory is not so thin as to trigger a recount, then the compu-vote will go unchecked.

That's good enough for the Democratic Party, no doubt, because if the outcome weren't close then fair counting wouldn't matter anyway, because the outcome probably wouldn't change, but the effort to count the votes would make the Bushist Arbeiterspartei harder to appease. But the part about paper "receipts" being ergonomically poor also is important. How to run a good election is really a matter that should be turned over to science and engineering, such as the MIT research, and taken completely out of political hands.

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