pageok
pageok
pageok
Icy Rain Interferes With Primary Voting in Washington Area:
Unfortunately, the terrible weather in DC right now got in the way of my primary vote, too. In my case, I left work at about 6:10 to make it to the polls that closed at 7; but what should have been a 15-minute trip home turned into a parking lot on the way out of the District. There was no way I was going to make it to the polls before they closed — each 3-minute cycle of the lights was averaging just one car advancing — so I turned around after two blocks of it and headed back to the office to work for a few more hours. Very frustrating.

  UPDATE: It occurs to me that this experience brings up an interesting argument in favor of the Electoral College system. Bad weather or national emergencies in part of the country can alter voter turnout in various regions. Under the electoral college system, bad weather or natural disasters that cause low turnout in a particular state will not lessen the political power of those in that state or area. So, for example, if there's a major storm on the East Coast on election day, the votes of those on the East Coast still have the same net effect. Assuming those who make it to the polls are representative, local weather won't have an effect. The events can still have an effect to the extent those who make it to the polls aren't representative, of course.
Bruce:
If McCain loses Virginia by 1 vote, we'll know who to blame!
2.12.2008 8:31pm
William2008:
If McCain loses Virginia by 1 vote, we'll know who to thank!
2.12.2008 8:38pm
Cornellian (mail):
Did you apologize to Huckabee for missing the chance to vote for him?

(hint: don't blame it on an "Act of God").




(kidding!)
2.12.2008 8:40pm
John (mail):
Good one, Orin!
2.12.2008 8:45pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

Assuming those who make it to the polls are representative, local weather won't have an effect.


And if they are not representative it limits their power.
2.12.2008 8:49pm
pete (mail) (www):
Or you could try a different approach like early voting.

In Texas you have two weeks before the election to vote if you want to. I am pretty sure this is true in other Texas counties, but in Bexar County (San Antonio) you can show up at any early voting polling place across the county and cast your vote so you do not even have to go to your precinct polling place during early voting. You have to show either a driver's license/state ID or the voter card that gets mailed to your house and when you show up they mark off on a networked coputer that you voted to prevent fraud.

There is really no excuse here for missing the election other than being out of town or somehow incapacitated for several weeks. I am not even sure where my precinct voting location is since I always just stop by at the mall near my house and vote there. I have also never had to wait more than 15 minutes in line to vote.
2.12.2008 8:58pm
MichaelB (mail):
The weather was fine, you people just can't drive here.

- Michigander currently living in Alexandria
2.12.2008 9:05pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Notice that they extended the voting hours in Maryland.
2.12.2008 9:31pm
Nessuno:

Notice that they extended the voting hours in Maryland.



Yeah, and that's never abused to the benefit of one candidate or another....
2.12.2008 9:48pm
Gregory Conen (mail):
A method that would gain most of the benefits of popular voting, with the advantage of the electoral college above, would be to have the electoral votes of a given state divided proportionally by the turn out, or by subregion, rather than the current all-or-nothing system.
2.12.2008 9:54pm
John Thacker (mail):

A method that would gain most of the benefits of popular voting, with the advantage of the electoral college above, would be to have the electoral votes of a given state divided proportionally by the turn out, or by subregion, rather than the current all-or-nothing system.


Now that would lead to some interesting tactical non-voting:
"The other side's going to win this state anyway, so don't vote so that we can reduce the electoral votes that they get!"
2.12.2008 10:00pm
Bender (mail):
In fact some states do divide up their electors in proportion to the votes cast for each candidate.

Article II of the Constitution leaves it to the legislatures of each state to determine how electors will be appointed: "Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress...."
2.12.2008 10:08pm
doug fretty (mail):
The Electoral College doesn't prevent unrepresentative voting any better than the popular vote would. In 2000, Eastern New Mexico was hit with a freak snowstorm, effectively disenfranchising the state's dyed-in-the-wool conservative region. As a result, Gore captured all of New Mexico's Electoral votes. Had the College not existed, Bush would have benefited from at least a portion of New Mexico's ballots, offsetting his lost votes in the Eastern region of the state.
2.12.2008 10:12pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
That's an interesting argument for the Electoral College system. It still doesn't explain why the vote of a person who lives in northern California [1] or rural Texas should count for less than the vote of someone who lives in Albuquerque or Denver though.

[1] I mean the real northern California, not San Francisco.
2.12.2008 10:21pm
MarkField (mail):

It occurs to me that this experience brings up an interesting argument in favor of the Electoral College system.


I think it constitutes an argument in favor of universal vote-by-mail. After all, neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night....
2.12.2008 10:51pm
John (mail):

"It still doesn't explain why the vote of a person who lives in northern California [1] or rural Texas should count for less than the vote of someone who lives in Albuquerque or Denver though. "


You are forgetting that under our system the president is basically elected by the states, not the people.
2.12.2008 10:52pm
Oren:
Can we please get a national holiday for election day? Trade it with President's Day if you really don't want to increase the number of holidays but just section it off so we can have one day every four years?
2.12.2008 10:58pm
Oren:
I think it constitutes an argument in favor of universal vote-by-mail. After all, neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night....
My experience with this in Oregon was very positive - it gave quite a bit of time to think about things and to look up the various candidates for water-quality-board or school-blah-blah (you stop caring after a while, but it's nice to have that luxury instead of rushing out so the next person in the long-ass line can vote).
2.12.2008 11:02pm
MnZ:

That's an interesting argument for the Electoral College system. It still doesn't explain why the vote of a person who lives in northern California [1] or rural Texas should count for less than the vote of someone who lives in Albuquerque or Denver though.


Well, in theory, I agree. In practice, the last thing I want after a close Presidential election is a nationwide* dash to re-re-re-count, declare refused ballots eligible, find "missing" ballots, "enhance" ballots, and finely examine uncertain ballots to divine the "clear intent" of the voter.

*-OK...it won't really be nationwide. It will be centered in a few political strongholds throughout the nation.
2.12.2008 11:04pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Opposing argument: people who live in places that tend to have bad weather deserve less representation, because they're more foolish. Thus, the electoral college system hurts democratically-produced policy.
2.12.2008 11:54pm
eyesay:
MnZ conjures up the Republican talking point that in Florida, they had to stop the recount because Democrats were counting and counting and counting again, trying to manufacture votes.

It's a lie.

The reality is that the vote counting machines spit out some ballots as unreadable, and many of those spit-out ballots were never counted, because, first, Republicans rioted in the courthouses to terrorize the votecounters, and second, the Supreme Court halted the process.

(Many of the ballots that machines spat out could easily be tallied, unambiguously, by a human being.)

But some illegitimate ballots were counted! In heavily Republican counties, military ballots cast after election day were counted. In heavily Democratic counties, military ballots cast after election day were not counted.
2.13.2008 12:03am
LM (mail):
Orin,

Assuming those who make it to the polls are representative, local weather won't have an effect. The events can still have an effect to the extent those who make it to the polls aren't representative, of course.

Doesn't extreme weather distort the turnout more often than not?
2.13.2008 12:36am
MnZ:
eyesay,

No need to get defensive. I was actually thinking more about other examples as well (e.g., Washington governor).

Besides, the accepted strategy in recounts is the same. Go to the areas in which one's party is strongest and re-re-re-count, declare refused ballots eligible, find "missing" ballots, "enhance" ballots, and finely examine uncertain ballots to divine the "clear intent" of the voter. If there were a nationwide popular vote, a determined political party could probably scrounge up tens of thousands uncounted "votes" using this strategy to its fullest.
2.13.2008 12:37am
eyesay:
MnZ,

"re-re-re-count"? In which election, in which county, were individual ballots counted originally and then three more times?

You seem to sneer at the process of ballot examination. It's not as ludicrous as you seem to think. For example, if a ballot is cast in the normal way (punched hole, ink mark, or whatever) for candidate Mark Jones, and the voter also writes in "Mark Jones," the machine counter will reject the ballot, but the clear intent of the voter was to vote for Mark Jones, and the ballot should be counted as a vote for Mark Jones.
2.13.2008 2:19am
Oren:
All the more reason for a uniform system of voting machines (optical scan preferred but whatever) and a uniform standard of recounting. Just get all the rules done before the voting starts!
2.13.2008 3:34am
MnZ:
eyesay,

I don't know of any re-re-re-count. However, I know of several re-re-counts. At worst, I am guilty of mild hyperbole. I sneer at most recounts. They are presented as high-minded a desire for truth and a defense of democracy when they are in fact a power grab.

Finally, ballot examination should be a relic of the past given current technology. I have purposely undervoted in the past, and I have even purposely overvoted. I don't like the idea of people holding up ballots looking for a smudge or a dimple as evidence of a vote.
2.13.2008 3:57am
pete (mail) (www):

Republicans rioted in the courthouses to terrorize the votecounters, and second, the Supreme Court halted the process.


See when democrats non-violently protest an event it is a noble deed, when Republicans non-violently protest people trying to help steal an election it is a riot.


"After three days of changing the rules every time we walked in the room, the Democrats finally decided to conduct a partial recount behind closed doors, and took the disputed ballots from the main counting room to a small, private room up on the 19th floor without the press," Morse said. "They barred the doors to Republican observers, and refused to let us enter. That's when we realized we had to do something to prevent them from stealing the election."

Under Florida's "sunshine" laws, dozens of television news teams had been allowed to film the manual recount at county election offices in Miami-Dade, West Palm Beach and other disputed counties from behind a rope line. Scenes of election judges holding up ballots as they tried to "discern the intent" of the voters by the state of ballot chad have become familiar to television viewers around the country.

But last Wednesday -- the day before Thanksgiving -- Democrat officials realized they were not going to get through the full manual recount in time for the Florida Supreme Court's deadline of 5 p.m. on Sunday, and decided to accelerate the process.

"We were told that we were challenging too many ballots and slowing things down," said Bryan Wilkes, another Republican recount observer who was accredited by Miami-Dade County.

And that's when head Judge Lawrence King, a Democrat, ordered county workers to pack up the ballots and take them to a smaller room upstairs far from the cameras -- and from the Republican volunteers.

Morse and Wilkes were concerned because the procedures in the public room downstairs were already bad enough.

"We saw Democrat election officials bending ballots until the chads popped out," Wilkes said. "We saw them knock whole stacks of Bush ballots onto the floor. We saw them counting ballots like a deck of cards. We saw ballots with chad taped back into the Bush hole, making them votes for Gore. You tell me: How many people go into the voting booth with a roll of scotch tape in case they make a mistake? This was very carefully done. Clearly, it was a professional job."


I remember seeing that footage and there was no violence or reasonable threat of violence, which by any reasonable definiton of a riot should be necessary. Sorry, but non-violently protesting one political party taking disputed punch card ballots behind closed doors during a recount is a noble action and in this case helped to prevent Gore from stealing the election.


All the more reason for a uniform system of voting machines (optical scan preferred but whatever)


Optical scan is the best of the options I have heard of. No hanging chads, easy to use, and leaves a paper trail. My county used to use them until they got replaced by computerized voting which is slightly harder to use (I have seen people walk away from the booth without punching the final VOTE button) and has no paper trail.
2.13.2008 7:49am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Not going to get into vote fraud, but rather, was going to give thanks to Global Warming for allowing this to happen.
2.13.2008 12:59pm
Gregory Conen (mail):
@John Thacker:
Sorry, "turnout" was a terrible word choice, I meant something like "outcome". If a state is split 50/50, then half of its electoral votes go to each candidate. If a state goes 75/25, the winner gets 75% of the electoral votes, etc.
2.13.2008 2:39pm