The Fairness of American Presidential Elections

The Fairness of American Presidential Elections


We have a president who was selected rather than elected. He stole the presidency through family ties, arrogance and intimidation, employing Republican operatives to exercise the tactics of voter fraud by disenfranchising thousands of blacks, elderly Jews and other minorities.
~ Barbra Streisand (born: 1942-04-24 age: 72) at BarbraStreisand.com.
Act Now The Coup Provision
The Owners Third Party Candidates
Voting In the USA What Do You Need to Recount?
Evidence Bush Stole the 2004 Election Media Reporting
Fund the Recount Supreme Court Decisions
Immigrating To Canada Lack of Recusing
Escaping the Draft A Call To Action
Changing the Law Hall of Shame
Constitutional Inequities Who Builds the Voting Machines?
Abolish The Electoral College? Fraud Friendly Diebold Voting Machines
Fraud Inequities Parting Thought
Ballot Machinery Inequities Links
Literacy and Language Bias WebRings
Safe Harbour

Act Now

There was a great fuss after the last two presidential election when all manner of suspected voting fraud was uncovered. There was not much could be done after the fact. The time to act is before an election, to make sure there is a clean election. Before an election, people on both sides are in favour of a clean election. After an election, the side the fraud helped works to block justice. The time is now to demand a paper ballot, or a voting machine with a paper audit trail with open inspected software and no modem connections for last minute fiddles. OpenVotingSolutions.net are working on such open standards.

In Germany, exit polls are accurate to within a tenth of a percent. Germany uses a very clean paper ballot system with meticulous checking. Voting fraud is so common in the USA that Americans don’t bat at eye when official results differ from exit polls by 10%. They have come to accept this as normal.

The Owners

In 2004 more than 80% of the vote was counted by three private corporations Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia. They refused to open their software for inspection or to submit to audit procedures. Had they wanted, they could have stolen the election and there would be no way to check up on them.

Diebold is owned by a Christian Reconstructionist family wants to overthrow the US constitution and replace it with a Christian theocracy. What a peculiar group to trust with the core process of democracy, one dedicated to destroying it!

Chuck Hagel was chairman of the board of AIS, the owner of ES&S, the voting machine that computerised Nebraska’s vote. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a seat. He won all demographic groups including blacks.

Republicans Tom Delay and Dennis Hastert (both skewered by other scandals) successfully fought against auditing of voting machines. It is bit peculiar to put a candidate in charge of counting the vote. He is about the least impartial person you could find.

Sequoia is partly owned by Saudi and Venezuelan investors. Saudi Arabia is the country that provided the 9/11 hijackers. Venezuela spawned Hugo Chavez, a major thorn in the American hide. Again, odd people to entrust with picking your country’s next leaders.

Voting In the USA

source: Alicia aka Angry Girl. Did you know…
  1. Ohio elections officials convicted of tampering with 2004 presidential recount.
  2. Robert F Kennedy’s essay in Rolling Stone about the evidence the Republicans stole the 2004 election with all manner of election fraud.
  3. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S. source
  4. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
  5. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers. source
  6. The chairman and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year. source
  7. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines. source
  8. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.
  9. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush’s vice-presidential candidates. source source
  10. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes. source
  11. Diebold’s new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters. source
  12. Diebold also makes ATM (Automated Teller Machine) s, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail. source
  13. Diebold is based in Ohio. source
  14. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states. source
  15. Jeff Dean, Diebold’s Senior Vice-President and senior programmer on Diebold’s central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree.
  16. Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a high degree of sophistication to evade detection over a period of 2 years.
  17. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold’s claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee named Baxter was able to do it! source
  18. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail. source
  19. All — not some — but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates. source source
  20. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President’s brother. source
  21. Serious voting anomalies in Florida — again always favoring Bush — have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation. source source source

Evidence Bush Stole the 2004 Election

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
~ Wendell Phillips (born: 1811 died: 1884 at age: 73) abolitionist, orator and columnist for The Liberator, in a speech before the Massachusetts Antislavery Society in 1852

Bush stole the 2004 election, presidential, senate and house by using crooked voting machines. Here is the evidence:

Fund the Recount

Never, never, never give up.
~ Winston Churchill (born: 1874-11-30 died: 1965-01-24 at age: 90)
Blackboxvoting.org and Ralph Nader teamed up to set up a 527 special fund to raise the $200,000 US needed to pay for a recount in Ohio. That could be enough to kick Bush out of the White House.
There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.
~ Edmund Burke (born: 1729-01-12 died: 1797-07-09 at age: 68)

Immigrating To Canada

Muslims and gays particularly might want to consider leaving the USA while they still can. With the rise of fascism in America, many people are looking to get out. Canada is the logical choice since there is no language barrier and the culture is familiar. Toronto has a hellish climate, hot and humid in summer, and bitter cold in winter, however, this may be quite tolerable to someone used to life on the east coast of North America. Alberta is a boom and bust economy, now going through a boom, so it is easy to get a job in any trade. BC has the mildest climate. Its economy is recovering but is not rolling. It is fairly easy for Americans to emigrate to Canada. Read the Self-Counsel Press books for details.
book cover recommend book⇒Immigrating to Canada: Who Is Allowed? What Is Required? How to Do Itto book home
by Gary L. Segal 978-1-55180-180-3 paperback
publisher Self-Counsel 978-0-88908-675-3 hardcover
published 2010-01-01
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book cover recommend book⇒Canadian Immigration Made Easy: How to Immigrate into Canada (All Classes) with Employment Search Strategies for Skilled Workersto book home
by Tariq Nadeem 978-0-9733140-0-7 paperback
publisher Self-Help
published 2003-05-31
Australian flag abe books anz abe books.co.uk UK flag
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Spanish flag amazon.es Chapters Indigo Canadian flag
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Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
book cover recommend book⇒Immigrating to Canada and Finding Employment: A Do-It-Yourself Kit for Skilled Workers under the Latest Immigration Policy. A Step-by-Step Settlement & Job Search Guide — Revised Editionto book home
by Tariq Nadeem 978-0-9733140-2-1 paperback
publisher Self-Help
published 2003-06-30
Australian flag abe books anz abe books.co.uk UK flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn amazon.co.uk UK flag
German flag abe books.de abe books.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de amazon.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es Chapters Indigo Canadian flag
Spanish flag iberlibro.com abe books.com American flag
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India flag junglee.com Powells American flag
UN flag Kobo other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
book cover recommend book⇒How to immigrate into Canadato book home
by Gary L. Segal 978-0-88908-010-2 paperback
publisher International Self-Counsel
published 1974
Out of print
Australian flag abe books anz abe books.co.uk UK flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn amazon.co.uk UK flag
German flag abe books.de abe books.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de amazon.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es Chapters Indigo Canadian flag
Spanish flag iberlibro.com abe books.com American flag
French flag abe books.fr amazon.com American flag
French flag amazon.fr Barnes & Noble American flag
Italian flag abe books.it Google play American flag
Italian flag amazon.it O’Reilly Safari American flag
India flag junglee.com Powells American flag
UN flag Kobo other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
book cover recommend book⇒Living and Working in Canada: A Survival Handbookto book home
by David Hampshire, Sally Jennings 978-1-905303-64-9 paperback
publisher Survival B005NIY5M8 kindle
published 2009-10-15
Original by Graeme Chesters.
Australian flag abe books anz abe books.co.uk UK flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn amazon.co.uk UK flag
German flag abe books.de abe books.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de amazon.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es Chapters Indigo Canadian flag
Spanish flag iberlibro.com abe books.com American flag
French flag abe books.fr amazon.com American flag
French flag amazon.fr Barnes & Noble American flag
Italian flag abe books.it Google play American flag
Italian flag amazon.it O’Reilly Safari American flag
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UN flag Kobo other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.

Escaping the Draft

Canada is not a safe place any more for draft resistors. Bush forced Canada to sign a treaty allowing American dragoons to come into Canada and kidnap anyone suspected of being American, and drag them back to the USA without the intervention of Canadian courts. From there, they can even be tortured legally. Bush could also use this provision to punish Canadians such as myself who have opposed him.

You might have some success ducking the dragoons if you pay off your credit cards so they have no record of your address, and do everything you can to keep your name and address out of any computer databases, e. g. do not drive a car. Don’t get a phone, or electric service in your name. You might also pick some obscure remote town to live into make it not worth their while to come get you.

Changing the Law

I wrote the following before the extent of the outright fraud in the US presidential election had come to light. The Harris fraud in removing black Democrats from the rolls and the rigged electronic voting machines dwarf the effects of the butterfly ballots and Scalia’s legal fiddles. To skip to the chase, look at the links below that get into the fraud. The bulk of this essay is about the systemic inequity.

Because the 2000 presidential election was so close, it magnified many inequities in the American election system. This essay discusses those inequities and suggests remedies.

Constitutional Inequities

When the USA was formed, it was created by the coalescing of thirteen separate countries. The founding fathers were far more concerned about he equality and rights of these separate states than they were about the equality and rights of the individual citizens. That concern survives to this day. Senate power is allocated equally to the various states. This means a citizen is a small state such as Rhode Island has more voting power than a citizen in a large state like California. You could assign senators by state population the way the house works, but then the senate would keep expanding. Perhaps it would be better to give each senator as many votes in the senate as there are voters in his state.

The founding fathers were also concerned that every region had a say in the running of the country. This means that a citizen living in a sparsely populated part of the country such as Utah has more voting power in the House Of Representatives than a citizen in a densely populated state like New Jersey.

The founding fathers did not believe in democracy as we know it today. They did not trust the mob to govern. They wanted a republic where well-educated elected representatives made all the decisions. The masses should never be permitted to directly make any decision. There were no national newspapers, no TV, and no Internet. The average citizen did not even know the names of the candidates. So the founding fathers set up an indirect system called the electoral college to elect the president. A group of impartial, non-party-affiliated, educated men, who were familiar with the presidential candidates, made the selection. In the constitution, the electors are not even required to vote for the candidate they are pledged to. 27 states have laws to bind them, but these laws may be unconstitutional. The penalty is typically a $100 fine, and being kicked out of the party. The constitution even made provision for a state legislature to select these electors in any way it saw fit. Legally the state legislature need not even hold an election to choose the college of electors. This harks back to the days when the states were nervously considering the possibility of union, and wanted to retain every possible power to themselves. The state legislatures originally directly chose the electors for president, without holding an election.

Further, in most states there is a winner-take-all-the-electors rule, which leads occasionally to the strange anomaly that the president chosen is the one with the fewest popular votes.

Modern Americans may consider these founding fathers’ notions in violation of the democratic principles of all men are born equal and one man; one vote. However, as President Jimmy Carter pointed out, these rules are almost impossible to change because they are burned into the constitution. They require 38 states to agree before they can be changed. Small states and sparsely populated regions are not about to give up their privileged positions, even if they recognise that privilege is unfair.

President Jimmy Carter said the most we can hope for is an abandonment of the winner-take-all-rule, because that change does not require a constitutional amendment, and because it can be done a state at a time. If states apportioned presidential electors in proportion to votes, most of the probability the anomaly of the winner in the electoral college getting the fewest popular votes would disappear.

Abolish The Electoral College?

The arguments for abolishing the electoral college include: The arguments for keeping the electoral college include:

Fraud Inequities

The American election is designed to make fraud easy, especially in absentee voting. Voters are sometimes, but not always, required to show id. If you are a black voter, much more likely ID will be demanded. If you are black, much more likely such ID will be declared invalid. Absentee voters are not even required to provide the number on the voter ID card if they plan to vote Republican or Democratic, because those two parties are given the list of voter id numbers to apply to absentee ballot requests that the parties print, mail out, and validate before submitting them. In other words, those people voting Republican or Democratic by absentee ballot need never show any id at all, ever! They can vote as many times as they want without even the risk of showing up at the polling place.

The IDs are issued by a single canvassing officer in each county, without any uniform accounting scheme, or cross checking of canvassing officer’s integrity. It is a simple matter to discover which voter IDs belong to voters who rarely vote, and submit phony absentee ballot requests for them, using the computer tapes provided to the Republican and Democratic parties. It is like giving the mint’s printing plates to the Republican and Democrat Parties and telling them We trust you not to use them to print any money.

The solution is a proper voter id card, ideally a smart card with embedded digitally signed photo of the voter. This makes it forge proof. You must always use this card to get an absentee ballot or to vote, no exceptions. The voter id card should contain a digital fingerprint so that you can ensure no duplicates are issued. The fingerprint itself exists only in the card. When you apply for a new card, that automatically invalidates any previous card you were issued. The voter id card ensures you vote only once and in only one place.

Ballot Machinery Inequities

Here is what I consider my most persuasive argument that Republicans have used voting machines to rig elections, not just that the machines are constructed to make it easy for anyone to do that. In Germany, where elections are closely audited, using a clean paper ballot system similar to Canada’s, exit polls have been within a tenth of a percent of the final ballot for two generations. However in the USA, in the 2002-11 senate election, between incumbent Democrat Max Cleland and Republican Saxby Chamblis just prior to the election Cleland was ahead by 5 points in every poll. Yet the election result showed Chamblis ahead by 7 points. You just don’t get 12 point statistical errors. This was Georgia’s first all-electronic election.

Chuck Hagel was the first Republican to win the Nebraska senate seat in 24 years. He won in every demographic group, even poor blacks. He won just after his company AIS/ES&S sold all the unauditable voting machines to Nebraska.

There are a number of different voting schemes used in various parts of the country:

The electronic systems are pretty well fool proof. They won’t let you accidentally vote for two candidates for the same office, for example. It is still possible to accidentally forget to vote for a presidential candidate. You could accidentally hit the wrong button, but even then you can recover. Perhaps you could be totally flustered by the new technology and be frightened off voting altogether, or leave the booth without completing your ballot. Humans are not involved in counting, so barring computer fraud, you get a 100% accurate count. On the other hand, they can easily be programmed to give any result the voting machine company desires.

The optical systems are almost as foolproof as the electronic ones. You fill in your ballot with a pencil. Then you poke it into a slot. If there is anything wrong with it, it spits back out at you, and gives you a chance to correct the problem. There is still a chance you won’t understand what the problem is, or how to make the correction and give up. If you don’t make the marks dark enough the machine will erroneously think you decided not to vote, but it won’t warn you.

The paper ballot is fairly straightforward. The problems come in design. Butterfly ballots, multipage page ballots or folded ballots can confuse voters. These have to be counted by hand, so the counts are never exact. Humans look at the marks, and have to use subjective judgement to decide if they are dark enough, big enough, of the correct shape etc. etc. The conscious or unconscious partisan bias of the counter can affect how ballots are tallied.

The punch card is the worst of the balloting schemes. One in five punch card votes were discarded in Broward county in Florida. They permit both overvoting and undervoting without warning. They have the problems of hanging, pregnant and dimpled chad. Tallying machines can’t register anything but a completely clean hole. Holes may not be clean because of inexperienced voters, blunt styluses, old equipment, full chad hoppers, improper insertion of the voting card in the machine, etc. In addition, the prepunched chad can sometimes fall out with rough handling, turning a valid vote into an invalid overvote. This scheme disenfranchises a sizeable chunk of the voters who are forced to use it. Hand counting only partly corrects the problem. Hand counts are rarely done, or even when ordered can be stalled both legally, and by partisan counters, so they are never completed. To give an idea of the magnitude of the problem, on average, country wide, 2% of voters fail to select a presidential candidate, mostly because they have no preference or because they consider no candidate acceptable. With punch card balloting, this ranges from 5 to 20%. The difference is presumably caused by the problems with using the punch card balloting equipment.

To make matters worse, this obsolete equipment does not toss ballots equitably. It is used mainly in the poorer districts. This means use of this equipment is biased against the poor. Since the poor tend to vote Democratic, the use of this equipment is biased against the Democratic party. In the rich districts, using modern voting equipment, 0% of the deliberate vote is thrown away. In the districts using the punch card voting scheme, 3 to 18% of it is, routinely, without comment or objection.

Some claim the problem lies with the voter. Unintelligent voters who cannot negotiate a successful punch card vote don’t deserve to vote. This is improper on two counts. First, the franchise is not based on intelligence. The interests of every man count equally whether he is a genius or an illiterate idiot. Secondly, this hurdle of punch card balloting is placed only before the poor. To be fair, it should apply equally before the wealthy.

The use of obsolete punch card equipment should not be blamed on any political party. The problem is that new voting machinery is a low priority in a cash-starved county, and it gets put off. In other countries, voting law and voting equipment is a federal responsibility to ensure uniformity. In the USA, it is, according to the constitution, a state and county responsibility.

Literacy and Language Bias

In an upper class household, every child learns to read English and how to vote. They know you can’t vote for more than one candidate. They know you must use an X. In some parts of the USA 20%+ of people cannot read. Yet their interests are still important. Similarly many new citizens have shaky English. They won’t easily understand the written instructions they are given. They may come from countries without voting, or with quite different voting rules. Nobody teaches them to vote.

How do you fix this? First you must teach children to vote in schools. They must have mock votes that are as close to the real thing as possible. They need to understand overvotes, undervotes, and that there are rules for what constitutes a valid ballot. Second you must provide instruction to adult voters prior to voting day in a variety of languages. People should be able to view a video, and practice vote. Third, modern voting machines should prompt with a wide choice of languages, both visually and with the spoken word to guide. Photos of the candidates should appear on the ballots, along with party logos. You should not need to be able to read English or even be able to read to vote accurately.

People who do something as mindless as sort mail are given a day’s training. Why do we expect every citizen to be able to use voting equipment correctly the first time, without instructional materials, without training, without practice, without supervision? We would never dream of demanding such performance of casual labourers in the workplace.

Safe Harbour

Safe harbour is a cut off date. If the vote counting from a state is complete by then, it is guaranteed to count federally. It cannot be challenged. Results as late as January 6 still count, but in theory, they could be challenged. This sounds like a great idea. You can’t have the contest going on right up inauguration day. The catch is in any contest, the status quo will favour one side. That side can simply stall and run out the clock until the safe harbour date. They can win without really needing to actually win the most votes. All they have to do is keep the election tied up in legal red tape. This was the basic strategy by which Bush won the election. In a future election, the status quo could just as easily favour the Democrats, and they would be the ones running out the clock.

How do you make the contest more fair? You have to make recounts automatic. You have to specify the clear conditions under which they are held or not held. You can’t have politicians making arbitrary partisan decisions on whether recounts or hand counts are justified. Once started they have to be completed. Since there is no motive to stall them, they will thus complete with dispatch. Canada managed to count, by hand, 17 million votes in four hours. Surely the USA could do as well when one side has no motive to stall the process.

Canada uses a simple paper ballot, uniform across the country. Note the black background discourages people from putting their X in the wrong place, and the way the names and Xs align.

Canada ballot

You have to make clear objective rules for manual ballot counting. Wherever possible you should use fool-proof machine voting that cannot create an invalid ballot or produce an incorrect count. You ban punch card balloting. This allows counts to be completed quickly without compromising the safe harbour date.

The Coup Provision

There is an obscure provision in the constitution that was originally intended to handle the case of a tie or some hopelessly mired election when it was impossible to determine a clear winner. In that case the state legislature could break the tie and decide the winner. However, some have claimed this provision could be used much more broadly. If any legal contest, no matter how minor were not very quickly resolved after the election, then the state legislature would have the right to select the electors, totally independently of the election results. They have the legal right to completely reverse the election.

This has not been done for over a hundred years, but the option is still there, and Jeb Bush threatened to use this provision had Al Gore prevailed in the courts and the counts. After it became clear the Federal Supreme Court would rule for Bush, the speaker for the Florida legislature withdrew the threat, and tried to pretend they had never made it, or ever intended to carry it through. Whether or not Feeney was truthful, this loophole should be closed. Unfortunately, that would require a constitutional amendment, and such a change would require states giving up the power to steal the presidential election if they ever wanted to. They are not about to give up any power, no matter how corrupt, or how unlikely they think they would be to use it. I was rather astonished to find out that opinions on the validity of this coup fell perfectly down party lines. All Democrats disapproved. All Republicans approved. I strongly suspect, had the Florida legislature been Democratic, we would have seen the reverse pattern. The next time this coup option happens it could equally likely tempt Democrats. Using the coup provision may be constitutionally permissible, but so is shooting your dog or pooing on your lawn, but that does not necessarily make it a great idea.

Third Party Candidates

The presence of third parties complicates the election. Sometimes when a right wing candidate runs such as Jesse Ventura, Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan or George Wallace, it splits the right wing vote and incidentally helps the Democratic party. Sometimes when a left wing candidate runs, such as Dr. Spock or Ralph Nader, it splits the left wing vote and incidentally helps the Republicans. This can lead to the anomaly of a candidate being elected that the majority of the population detest.

There are three main proposals to deal with this problem:

  1. Run off elections

    If the election is close, you have a run off election between the top two contenders. The main problem with this is it takes extra voter time and money.
  2. Approval voting

    You can vote for as many candidates as you like. You vote for all the candidates you approve of. The candidate with the most votes wins. This lets you vote for both for Pat Buchanan and George Bush, without diluting your vote for Bush should Buchanan be out of contending. Your voting power is the same whether you use one, two or three votes. You can use it to vote for all but the candidate you detest. Or you can use it to vote for just the best candidate. You can vote for all candidates to let it be known you approve of all of them equally. You can vote for no candidate to let it be know you think they are all turkeys. One advantage of this scheme is overvotes and undervotes are just as meaningful as a vote for a single candidate. Even if a voter does not understand the rules, his vote still counts.
  3. Rank voting

    You rank the candidates in order. The counting process gives more points for a first rank than a second rank. The candidate with the most points wins. Rank voting: You rank the candidates in order. The counting process gives more points for a first rank than a second rank. The candidate with the most points wins. It is more complicated to vote and count. It pretty well requires automated equipment to count quickly. Vote theorists claim this scheme, officially called Borda voting, makes the most people happiest with the result.

    Australia uses a type of rank voting that works like this: You rank the candidates in order. The candidate with fewest votes is knocked out, and any votes against that candidate are redistributed to those votes’ next most preferred candidate, until there is a clear winner ( >50% of the total vote). Australia became a nation in 1900, after the American civil war. A great concern was to constitute the commonwealth so as not to repeat some of the problems experienced by the US republic. Presumably, the new South African constitution is better still.

If you are curious to further explore the problem of voting schemes to deal with more than two candidates, see Discover Magazine November 2000 page 75 May the Best Man Lose where they discuss the mathematics and paradoxes of various voting schemes. Two terms you need to understand when studying voting are plurality and majority. A candidate wins the plurality of votes when he gets more than any other candidate. A candidate wins the majority of the votes when he gets more than 50% of the votes. When there are only two candidates, they amount to the same thing.

What Do You Need to Recount?

If you add up a column of numbers, and you want to be sure you are right, you add them up again. If you get the same answer you quit. You repeat until you get the same answer at least twice, though not necessarily twice in a row. Even better, you talk somebody else into doing the checking addition for you.

In doing recounts, the same principle should apply, except that you don’t insist on perfectly matching totals, just close enough so the error would not make any difference. If the difference between candidates is large, you can stop before doing even one recount.

The punch card vote (or any vote for that matter) is made of three parts, the valid vote, the undervote and the overvote. It turns out you have to look at all three to get a perfectly accurate total. Electronic voting machines ensure it is impossible to create any overvotes, though they do permit undervote blank ballots.

Valid Vote

A machine counts the valid vote. What the machine can’t deal with, it spits out as the undervote (machine saw zero votes), and overvote (machine saw two or more votes). The buck stops there normally.

If you run the ballots through the machine twice and you get the same total, nobody disputes that number, so long as different operators did the work, under scrutiny. In any recount, there is never a need to literally count any ballots with your hands, even invalid ones. Contrary to common Republican belief, you only need separate them into piles and let the machine count them.

Undervote

If it turns out that the undervote might matter, the undervote then has to be examined manually and categorised into piles: Of course, only the valid ballots count. Blank ballots are considered invalid, contrary to a rumour put out by some wily Republicans. Arguing over which pile a ballot belongs in: valid or invalid need be done only once, though the counting should be done twice, with possible extra review of the disputed ballots.

Overvote

You then may have to examine the overvote, which sometimes might matter. How could this be? The voter has marked his ballot for more than one person, clearly an invalid ballot? n’est-ce que pas? However ballots have a write-in slot at the bottom. If the person votes for his candidate and also writes him in, that may or may not be considered a valid ballot. Rules could conceivably work either way. Machines can separate out the potential write-in duplicates, and allow for hand adjudication. A machine can then count the pile of ballots that were manually decided to be valid. By Florida’s clear intent of the voter rule, the overvote did matter in that election, though it was never counted officially. Let us hope the unofficial Miami Herald counts take the overvote into consideration.

Media Reporting

News media report election results and exit polls even before the polls close in the western half of the country. This may discourage westerners from voting, or may unduly influence the way people vote. Both supporters of the front runner and runner up may be discouraged. In the last election we even saw this effect within the two time zones of Florida. Happily, experiments have shown voter rarely change their votes based on such reports. However, they are often discouraged from voting.

Canada tries to solve this problem by making reporting before all the polls close illegal. But with the Internet and long distance telephone calls, it is impossible to keep poll results secret. I suspect the only fair way to handle this is to have a uniform poll closing time across the country. This of course would delay the counting and force people to stay up into the wee hours to learn the winner. Equivalent would be to close the polls early in the east, but delay vote counting or delay announcing any results until the polls close in the west.

There is nothing much you can do about exit polls, but these are not that much different from polls reported on the day before the election.

Another problem with the media is the trivialising of the election and politics. For example, after one of the televised debates between Gore and Bush, an MSNBC reporter asked the audience, "Who do you think came across as nicer? He did not ask, Who would you vote for? or Who do you think would make the best leader?, or Who best demonstrated his competence to lead the country?" The question he asked was almost as irrelevant as asking who had the nicer hair. Perhaps you can forgive the twit for asking about the only question he could that would put Bush, his boss’s (Bill Gates') favourite, in a good light.

Platforms and issues are forgotten. Trivia, personality, mannerisms and sound bites take over. You could go through an entire day of CNN coverage without learning a single fact about what sort of legislation either candidate favours. In reporting Clinton, the media were ten thousand times more interested in his penis than his pen. Not that the travels of the presidential penis were uninteresting, but they totally eclipsed what the president was doing, both good and bad, that actually affected the welfare of the country.

Supreme Court Decisions

Because the laws were fuzzy, both the Florida and Federal Supreme courts became involved. In the USA, supreme court judges are political appointees, and tend to be party hard liners. Justices Souter and Stevens were notable exceptions.

In a fight like this everyone is hopelessly partisan. Almost no one can think clearly about what is fair or proper. Partisan bias clouds all judgement, even that of supreme court judges. I am a Canadian, theoretically disinterested, but with a pro Gore bias. I was impressed by the fairness of the lower level courts and shocked at the naked partisanship of the higher courts, particularly the Federal Supreme court. Most outrageous was Justice Scalia’s addendum to the stay to stop the counts which said in effect, "It does not matter if this stay is fair to Gore, I have already decided Bush is going to win before I have heard the evidence."

Attorney Mark Levine has explained the embarrassing lack of logic in the Supreme Court Decision in this layman’s guide to it. Harvard professor Larry Tribe put it charitably, This decision will be hard to teach..

What can you do about this? There is no appealing the Supreme Court’s actions. You legally have to accept what they did, no matter how partisan. You could insist that new supreme court justices be confirmed with a two thirds majority vote. That would encourage centrist judges who would not be wildly partisan. You could permit recall of a supreme court judge with 60% vote, so that disgracefully partisan judges could be more easily removed. You also want to pre-decide these issues clearly in law so you don’t need the Supreme Court to make up law on the fly during elections.

Lack of Recusing

It is customary for a judge who has a conflict of interest to recuse himself, so as to avoid any possibility he might allow self-interest to sway him.

What actually happened in this case?

Justice Clarence Thomas (a white conservative judge with black spray painted skin by Ron Popeil), had a wife, Virginia Lamp Thomas who worked at the Heritage foundation, a leading conservative think tank in Washington D.C. she had just been hired by George W. Bush to help recruit people in the impending administration.

Eugene Scalia, the son of Justice Antonin Scalia, was a lawyer with the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher — the very law firm representing Bush before the supreme court.

This conduct would be nothing of note in ordinary politics, but in the lofty realm of supreme court, this is unprecedented foul play.

A Call To Action

Napoléon observed that God always seems to favour the biggest army. Were he alive today he might similarly note that the electors seem to favour the candidate who spends the most money on TV ads.

The unfairness of lies perpetuated in TV ads vastly overshadow the inequities in the voting mechanism. The key to fairness is to take the debate out of the hands of the spin doctors and media moguls, and put it back into the hands of the people. Fortunately, the technology for doing that now exists: the Internet which includes email, the website, the webring and the newsgroup.

It is important that voters learn where the candidates stand on all manner of issues. You can research that and let it be known. What you find out may be something only of interest to a small segment of the population, e.g. their position on whale hunting or salmon conservation. However, that can be a key issue, or an indicative issue that actually persuades a voter. There is not much point in rabidly cheerleading your candidate or booing the opposition. You won’t change anyone’s mind. The more neutrally you can present the information that you have researched the more credibility you will have.

Here in Canada we have an institution called the all candidates’ meeting. It is something like the American Town Meeting, but much more fun. All candidates are invited to attend. Audience members line up at microphones to lambaste the politicians and ask them questions. The questions are not prescreened. The politicians poke holes in each others’ replies. Groups of lesser candidates gang up on the front runners. They don’t hypocritically play kissy face the way they do in America, The audience cheers and boos the responses, making a Jerry Springer audience look tame. It is revealing to see a politician without the protective film created by his handlers and spin doctors.

My Mom told me that when the newspaper gets a letter to the editor, or a politician gets a personal letter, they assume there were at least twenty other people with the same idea, but too lazy to write. You have the strength of twenty men when you get off your butt and write. With a website, your writing can reach the entire country, nay the entire planet, inspiring a select audience everywhere.

Hall of Shame

most
shameful
Democrat Republican
act
  • Canvassing board changing the chad counting rules on the fly more than once.
  • Attempting to count dimples, even though historically dimples had never been included as valid ballots.
  • Florida Legislature threatening to appoint Bush electors even if the courts determined Gore was the true winner.
  • Extreme efforts to block full and accurate vote counts.
  • K. Harris’ discretion in stopping the counts in progress that had been deliberately stalled by Republicans. Though she had the legal right to do this, that was not the precedent.
  • Republican Sandra Goard, canvassing officer, allowing Republican friends into fix the absentee ballots, knowing it was contrary to law, then lying about it under oath.
  • Justice Scalia saying the stay order to stop the vote count need not be fair to Gore because he had already decided to give the election to Bush, before he had heard the arguments. By stopping the count, he guaranteed the Republicans would successfully run out the clock to the optional safe harbour deadline of December 12.
spin
  • Blaming the Republicans for the unfair punch card balloting when it was primarily purchased by Democratic canvassing boards.
  • Blaming the Republicans for racism and bias against blacks when it was Democratic canvassing boards responsible for the ancient punch card equipment that tossed their votes.
  • Blaming Democrats for throwing out military absentee ballots when it was K. Harris’s office who send out the memo telling canvassing boards to do that.
  • Dissembling word play on the word counted, claiming all votes had been counted even though the ballots had not been examined or included in any vote totals.
  • Blaming Gore for cherrypicking the recount counties when Bush had equal opportunity to request recounts where it would be favourable to Bush. Bush blamed Gore for Bush’s own failure to act.
  • Claiming that blocking the recounts was a matter of principle.
  • Repeatedly accusing the Democrats of tampering with the ballots without evidence.
  • Karnak the Magnificent. Claiming that totally blank ballots were being counted for Gore, that the process was done with ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) without examining the ballot, claiming the process was done by looking at the other votes on the card to see if the voter tended to vote Democrat or Republican and claiming that it was a totally arbitrary process that was completely subjective. This was all shown to be bullshit when the Republican judge who was involved in the details of counting described in great detail how the counts were done and testified that in counting nearly always the adjudications were unanimous.
  • Claiming that by law all ballots rejected by a punch card tabulating machine are invalid ballots.
hypocrisy
  • Attempting to block absentee ballots from counting after saying the principle that every vote should count should be paramount.
  • Complaining that it was unfair to count only the counties where Gore had requested recounts, then rejecting the Florida Supreme court ruling to count all counties.
  • Blaming the Democrats for the lack of a clear definition of a valid punch card ballot, when the fuzzy legislation was written by the Republican state legislature.
  • The Federal Supreme Court put the Florida Supreme Court in a Catch 22 position. If the Florida court formulated clear uniform rules on what constitutes a valid ballot, that would count as writing new law. If they did not formulate such rules, that would violate equal protection. Heads I win, tails you lose.
blunder
  • Designing the Palm Beach butterfly ballot.
  • Media reporting a Gore win for Florida before the polls closed.
  • K. Harris’s office sent out a memo saying military absentee ballots without postmarks should not be counted. This was erroneous. By both Federal and Florida law military ballots don’t need a postmark.
cunning
  • The affable speech conceding the election. Gore shot to 10 points higher than Bush in public opinion with it.
  • Scalia’s second ruling. It was an absolutely masterful piece of legal legerdemain. It was convoluted, but it successfully managed to pull off many goals, i.e.
    1. It made sure the Florida legislature did not appoint electors, rather than taking the ones from the winner of the count. That thorny constitutional issue had to be sidestepped at all costs, even if it meant flagrantly giving the election to Bush.
    2. It gave the election to Bush, no matter what the Florida Supreme court did.
    3. It ensured future elections would have to be fought with fair, uniform rules. This ruling, that theoretically only applies to Florida, should eventually enforce nationwide fairness.
    4. It reaffirmed the powers of the Florida Supreme Court.
    5. It settled the election instantly.
    6. It enhanced the reputation of the Supreme Court. By having two Republican justices dissent, it gave the impression that the court was less biased than had the vote been strictly partisan, without compromising the result. The 5-4 split could have been a lucky fluke, or a deliberate manipulation.
mannerism
  • sighing
  • slurring speech
contributors
  • Teamsters Union, Jane Fonda.
  • Philip Morris Tobacco, Merck Pharmaceuticals, Bill Gates, air and water polluters, religious right.

Who Builds the Voting Machines?

It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
~ Josef Stalin (born: 1878-12-18 died: 1953-03-05 at age: 74)

Electronic voting machines are being peddled that are fraud-friendly. Even a first year computer science student could cook an election with the total lack of audits and open source. There is no excuse for anything proprietary or secret in a voting machine. That just invites fraud. Further, the voting machine companies are run by Bush supporters and by Christian Reconstructionists, a peculiar sect that wants to replace the American democracy with a Christian theocracy — rather odd people to be in the voting machine business.

For the first time in history, Florida exit polls differed widely from the official counted vote in the 2000 Presidential election. Exit polls had Gore far in the lead. No one then thought the Bush family was crooked enough to steal an election that directly.

Fraud Friendly Diebold Voting Machines

It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
~ Josef Stalin (born: 1878-12-18 died: 1953-03-05 at age: 74)

Diebold voting machines are scandalously fraud-friendly. Diebold should know better. They make equipment for the banking industry, so they know perfectly well how to make fraud difficult. Here are some of the techniques they use to make fraud easy:

Diebold machines must be stopped or the election is a fraud. It is an act of patriotism to destroy such a democracy-destroying device.
It’s not the voting that’s democracy; it’s the counting.
~ Tom Stoppard (born: 1937-07-03 age: 77), playwright

Parting Thought

There is a great temptation in formulating fairer rules, to try to weight them to favour your preferred candidate under the conditions of the last election. This is short sighted. In the next election, your favoured candidate could almost as likely be hurt by that bias. Unfair rules you enact now will eventually come back later to bite you.

Americans are strange. Republicans like to tease the Democrats for being reds or pinkos, yet Republicans refer to states the Republicans control as red. States that vote Democratic are known as blue.

The party managers know where the public stands on a whole list of issues. Their funders just don’t support them; the interests they represent don’t support them. So they project a different kind of image.
~ Noam Chomsky (born: 1928-12-07 age: 85)
Unfortunately, almost all the stories on voting machine fraud written between 2000 and 2004 have been withdrawn. I don’t know if this represents Orwellian malice or naïve foolishness on the part of the media believing that voting machine fraud is no longer relevant. Obama is crazy if he forgets that voting machine fraud elimination is the top priority to getting elected. Getting rid of fraud-inviting machines takes a long hard slog. You can’t wait until the last minute.
It’s not the voting that’s democracy; it’s the counting.
~ Tom Stoppard (born: 1937-07-03 age: 77), playwright

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