Re: Re: Emergency Measures To Protect The 2004 Vote Count (EM2004)

From: David Weintraub <david_at_weintraubworld_dot_net>
Date: Sat Sep 04 2004 - 21:19:27 CDT

The biggest problem with hand counting ballots is the sheer number of
positions on many US ballots. States like Texas and New Mexico will
usually have over 50 places to elect on a typical ballot. This includes
from President, Governor, and down to precinct level judges. To hand
count a ballot with that many people on it would be almost impossible.
You'd have to either have to tabulate all 50 or so positions with each
ballot, or count each ballot multiple times. In most hand count
situations, representatives of all parties on the ballot are there to
watch the count. That could make the room very crowded.

Plus, if you do the count at the precinct level, you'd might have
trouble getting representatives from some of the more minor positions
on the ballot. When I was in Texas, we elected the Justice of the Peace
(along with County Surveyor, County Trapper, and County Secretary). It
would be hard for such a minor office to be able to verify a vote count
at over 100 different precincts.

The procedures for securing the ballot boxes from tampering, verifying
and tracking each ballot box, organizing and verifying the count are
just as important as the voting procedure. Hand counting (especially at
the precinct level) might not be a good method for many communities.

In fact, I am not too sure we should encourage people to use absentee
ballots if their precinct uses an electronic voting terminal. Absentee
ballots are very easy to manipulate or simply to lose. It isn't
uncommon for people to request a ballot and never get one (lost in the
mail) or to get the ballot so close to the election, it is impossible
to mail back on time. If a state is going to cheat using an electronic
voting terminal, it can easily manipulate absentee ballots. Remember in
2000 that the State of Florida counted late arriving military absentee
ballots, but not other late arriving absentee ballots (military ballots
were more likely to be a vote for Bush than a typical absentee ballot).

The best advice is not to panic and do something that will have very
unforeseen consequences. If we feel that cheating is likely to take
place, we should determine the most likely way it will happen, where it
will occur, and take steps like exit polling to verify the ballot

Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, doctor,
and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it."
-- Elwood P. Dowd

David Weintraub
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Received on Thu Sep 30 23:17:02 2004

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