Message - Re: Is it a draw in Florida? [counting votes]
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Posted by  Kevin Matthews on November 09, 2000 at 11:05:26:

Dear Jeff,

It is good to hear from you. If you can spare me another moment, I'd like to try to say better why I think the vote in Florida is a "moral tie" -- whoever may be ahead, by a few hundred votes either way.

Back in 1980, in Santa Cruz, California, I had the experience of serving as one of the county election commissioners who were charged with certifiying the vote counting process. My term happened to coincide with two other commissioners who also took their duties unusually seriously. By another coincidence, down there next door to the just-emerging Silicon Valley, we also happened to all be unusually unintimidated about the computer systems being used for the voting and tabulation.

In short, although there was no evidence for any particular fraud, the system of checks through the tabulating system did not fully check out. There were discrepancies on the order of 2 to 3 votes per precinct that could not be accounted for. None of the races were so close that such a small margin mattered, so eventually, after two or three days, we succumbed to the pressure to sign off, without getting to the bottom of everything.

My perception is that this level of inaccuracy is pretty normal, and it just doesn't get talked about, because it certainly undermines the concept of the sanctity of every vote. Even just from the mechanical effects of where the hole punch-outs ("chad") flap and flutter, there will be at least hundreds of votes variance from count to count of six million ballots.

So, as some commentator who had studied vote recount issues said on NBC last night, resolving vote counting issues is an art, rather than a science. In other words, it is a process open to negotiation, pressure, and additional levels of manipulation. In the courts, it easily takes serval months.

I'm not comfortable with a little drama like that off in Florida, in a Bush-run state, being the determinant of the results of a hard fought national election. I don't think a convincing result will ever emerge - the sampling process just doesn't have enough resolution. Inaccuracy is inherent when voting gets down to the fifth decimal place.

The everyday approach to our voting system works because accuracy in the fifth decimal place is hardly ever needed. In this case, the counting system is being pushed beyond its point of technical meaningfulness. Thankfully, our Constitution provides a human element, so we don't need to be driven by an accident of technical nonsense. We just need to activate that human element, to make sure it makes the only reasonable correction.

And as more and more comes out in Florida, my subtle interpretation becomes less likely to be needed. That's all to the good - I dearly hope Gore will just win outright - but since a petition needs some ramp-up time to get going, I felt it needed to be started right away, so _if_ these ideas are needed, we'll be ready.

People tend not to talk about it - it is really way too creepy to dwell on - but it is a simple point of fact that we're dealing here with two sons of a former head of the CIA. It would be a real surprise if they went away easily.

But hey, life's an adventure, right? We'll see what happens!

Best wishes,


PS: Personally I don't think the Constitution needs to be changed - and I totally agree the middle of a crsis is not the time (Sen. Specter's rash announcement not withstanding). I think the Constitution is actually way cleverly designed to be able to deal with this kind of rare weird situation. More on that is posted at: http://neighbors.designcommunity.com/notes/1092.html

On 11/9/00 at 9:34 AM, jefster@texas.net wrote:

] Yes I signed the petition to ralph nadar, but this didn't come to a draw in the
] election. There are still votes to be counted. Please view cnn.com or another
] news source to get the full story. A petition to george w bush will not get you
] anything. The election in this country is done by the electoral college and not
] by popular vote. Though I happen to think popular vote should be the way we
] elect our president, there is no way we can change that during an election.
] Bush has won so far, however there are still absentee ballots that are in route
] to florida as we speak. Once those are counted we'll know the truth. After
] that the electoral college should be disbanded for good and a new constitutional
] amendment needs to be based to change over the old system to a new, fairer
] system. Thanks for your time.
] Sincerely,
] Jeff Plant

**** http://www.PetitionOnline.com/trust1/petition.html ****

Citizens Nature Project http://www.NatureProject.org/nature.html
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Kevin Matthews, matthews@artifice.com
541-345-7421 vox, 541-345-7438 fax, P.O. Box 1588, Eugene, OR 97440


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