• While I have not dealt with those particular types of machines, I can honestly say I have seen this behavior as a result of touch screen controller failure (the card that translates what is pressed onto screen into input into the underlying machine).

    It generally results in skewed areas of the screen which is different than calibration. In fact attempting to re-calibrate can make it worse. The most common areas this happens are the corners of the screen, and near the center if using a standard 4-pin type connector to the touch panel.

    Either way, if they had good testing it should have been pulled long before it ever went out into the polling place.

  • FYI, In all this talk about Washington, don’t forget a lot of this is paralleled pretty closely in Maryland. That is, a bill was passed and subsequent petition to referendum succeeded. And similarly, since it is a referred law, voting “For” is a vote to keep the law. I don’t know if there is as big a push by opponents but possible confusion could exist there as well, regardless.

    For reference, based on sample ballots on the state website the full ballot contest looks something like:

    Question 6
    Referendum Petition
    (Ch. 2 of the 2012 Legislative Session)
    Civil Marriage Protection Act

    Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

    For the Referred Law
    Against the Referred Law

  • I think a lot of people agree that the returned pdf approach is a bit scary. But the rest of the system is something other jurisdictions who don’t have as good a system can learn a lot from. Basically Maricopa has a lot of technical infrastructure in place that can help with this problem. So don’t lose sight of the bigger picture because of the one piece you strongly disagree with.

    While most jurisdictions will be adamant about not implementing any form of electronic return method, they can learn a great deal about what other specific areas to target for improvement. These are such things they can implement that Maricopa has such as online voter registration, online absentee request, online ballot delivery, as well as legal changes to the canvass timeline.

    In some jurisdictions ballots can be returned and still counted up to 10 days after election day, which gives an additional window. And the 45 day requirement of the MOVE act, is also important here. Think for a moment, if a voter can register, request, and print a ballot all online from overseas, 45 days before the election, and then return it with up to 55 days for it to be delivered, many if not most of the problems can be resolved, helping improve the ratio between requested and returned.

  • I have actually been involved in the process first hand in the past. Hours upon hours of helping support this “not counting” everybody always harps on about. And yes, in case you wonder, it does get frustrating being repeatedly told by people they “know” I spent all those hours doing nothing.

    Additionally as a point of fact, the result breakdowns are available after the fact. The official results are broken down by type of vote, and the absentee results are in fact available after certification, usually on a state website, or on request. The fact so many news organizations don’t bother updating their numbers after election night unless they have to, is not actually the fault of those supporting the election. It is the arrogance of the media that assumes they have the power to call races without even waiting for the official results. Which aren’t released until after the canvassing of the absentee and provisional(where applicable) ballots.

    Corruption can exist in elections. But the level of corruption required to improperly count every single election in every single local jurisdiction, every single state, in the entire country, is statistically improbable to the point of absurdity. It would require virtually every person ever employed, every temp, every non-profit volunteer, to not only be complicit, but be silent about it after the fact. It would require auditors, both state and federal, to intentionally ignore the bad data in their findings.

    I don’t think people realize exactly how many people are involved in a single election cycle to do the counting and tabulation. Statistically it is far more likely for mistakes to be made through incompetence, than conspiracy.

    Problems absolutely exist within the process and the law, but by and large they can be laid at the feet of state legislatures, and federal congressmen and so on, who make the laws that define the system in question. Not those who simply attempt to implement those laws.

  • There actually are various projects investigating new systems for this, some funded by the FVAP grants. Also in some places they have already been implemented to a point. Maricopa County Arizona for example has an interesting system in place for UOCAVA voters.

  • This is not universally, or even often, true. I know a lot of people truly believe it. But it is not. Don’t believe this because you have heard it – contact your state and local election boards to find out the legal process they are required to follow for the canvassing of ballots. In some jurisdictions the entire process is even open to the public to watch.

  • I think this article’s title is slightly misleading in that the 4.6% is based on accepted ballots to total registered voters, not on ballots requested, or ballots returned. If you look at the ballots returned, the acceptance rate is quite high. If you look at the ballots sent however, you realize that only 15.8% requested a ballot at all.

    Really you have different numbers to deal with here – total registered voters; voters who did not attempt to participate; voters who attempted to participate but were not able to; and voters who successfully participated.

    So there are two distinct issues here, the first being why did so many who were sent a ballot, never return it. This only reflects 10.2% of those total registered voters.

    The second issue is also pressing, and that is, why is the attempted participation so low? Statistically it would be logical to expect the same general turnout as stateside voters, which in this case was 41.6%. So if it was 15.8%, then that is an unexplained 25.8% who didn’t attempt to participate, but statistically you would have expected too.

    I think there are probably at least three reasons: they are familiar with the problems with receiving and returning ballots in a timely fashion, and so don’t even try; they believe that even if they return it it will never be counted because of the prevalent idea that absentees are only counted “if they have to be”; and lastly, they simply forgot to request an absentee because of their current environment/situation.

    The first can be resolved with improved ways of getting the ballot, such as by e-mail, and by having longer canvass windows. The second issue boils down to educating these overseas voters on the actual canvass process, and if there is merit to this belief within a specific jurisdiction, improving the process, or legal requirements as the case may be, to require all ballots received in a timely manner to be counted. The last also comes under education, as well as possibly improved methods of informing these voters when the deadlines are as elections come up.

  • While it is possible in some jurisdictions not all ballots are counted unless they have to be, I know for certain that in many states they are counted, no matter what, so long as they are returned by legal deadlines.

    And that is the biggest issue. Getting the ballot in time to return it in time. This is why certain states and counties have started providing e-mail options, where UOCAVA voters can request to receive a pdf of their ballot by e-mail so it can be printed out and mailed back, which removes the first half of the shipping problem.

  • While Romney is clearly crazy for stating he was going to win, he isn’t far off when he says Santorum can’t win. That isn’t propaganda, it is the hard truth. Newt cannot either. Mathematically it is impossible.

    Santorum may have won the popular vote in these two states, but the actual delegates were split fairly evenly between Romney Newt and Santorum. And that is very very bad for Santorum. It means even in the deep south Santorum cannot get a plurality of Delegates, which means he cannot win.

    There are a total of 1557 delegates. Approximately 476 already have gone to Mittens. Newt has 131 and Paul 47.That means a max of 903 delegates remain. Santorum has 246 of the needed 1144. That means he would have to win nearly all of the remaining delegates to win. Statistically nobody but Romney could realistically win at this point without a brokered convention.

    If he can do math what Santorum is really hoping for is to get as high a percent of the remaining delegates as he can, and a brokered convention where he might get Newt’s delegates to vote for him. This isn’t likely to work either however, because even with a brokered convention Romney statistically has the most likely chance to win.

    All Romney has to do is spend as much money as he can to prevent Santorum from winning enough delegates. That is why the nasty political ads are flying.

  • No. But most have never claimed to be other than they are. He actively campaigned as one thing, but then when it came time to vote, he flipped his position absolutely. That kind of despicable behavior deserves to be focused on first and deserves to be made an example of lest others try the same tack and pretend to be an ally to get elected only to show their true colors when it actually matters.

    One other that I would say is worth mentioning though is Tiffany Alston who in 2011 flip-flopped from co-sponsor to a no vote over constituents fears and the word ‘Marriage’, and this year flipped back only because of political pressure.

  • I’m glad. :) I usually avoid commenting unless I think I may be able to bring something worth considering. Not really to make anyone agree or change their mind, just think about things they might not have otherwise.

  • I wondered about that myself. But I gave the benefit of the doubt and assumed he misspoke and meant progestin, and that he was simply several decades out of date due to not practicing consistently.

  • On that I agree, yet it goes back to the equal rights issue. As long as no equal protection exist, this sort of skewed thinking will exist. Even after it does it will in certain places where it is a culturally prevalent myth. But let us be honest. Does it surprise anyone that a 76 year old republican politician from Texas holds such a view? It would be far more surprising to me if he did not, as sad as that it.

  • To expand on this a little though – from what I know I would say that the latest one could argue for such a cutoff based on brain development would most likely be week 22, and the closer you get to such a cutoff, the harder the judgement call is likely to be. Which is why the legal “deadline” so to speak would probably have to be several weeks prior to such a cutoff. Thus my mid-second trimester comment.

    But of course I also think that this type of question should ultimately be answered not by politicians, but by experts in neural development. Since I am not such an expert the most I can offer is my best approximation of rational ranges based on what is commonly available information.

  • The parts of the brain that give rise to such things as awareness and memory form rather rapidly during the second trimester. At what exact point consciousness actually “begins” is such a fuzzy questions I don’t think anyone could do more than base it on certain levels of brain complexity. Which is why it is such a complicated question.

  • I am not impressed with that interview. He never got a chance to elaborate on much of anything, and on that I blame the interviewer. That said, I think that from Paul’s fairly conservative leaning libertarianism his answer was fairly well reasoned, albeit clearly incomplete as you point out.

    The libertarian mindset that he tends to come from is the one that says that one of the governments prime (or even only) purposes is to uphold the rights of the individual. When pregnancy comes into play this suddenly means the Government has to potentially be able to determine at what point in the development phase individuality begins.

    At what point does the government have to balance the rights of two individuals instead of just one? Clearly from his standpoint the government should consider this point to be very early on, which means that in this case you are faced with a dilemma – when is it justified for this kind of early termination? For the rape question he gave the effective answer of “it must be legitimate”, that is, in order for the government to judge the rights of the victim to supersede those of the potential child it must be both very early and in some fashion demonstrably rape. This is never going to be a satisfactory position, but as long as he holds that individuality begins right at conception, it is also possibly the only one he can give.

    I think that this is one of those cases where a religious belief supersedes purely logical legal determination. I believe that most likely without his religious driven preconceptions his answer would still be similar but more nuanced. That is, from the governments perspective, either individuality only begins at birth or (most likely) it begins at the point at which consciousness reaches a certain stage of development. Which would be considered somewhere between the end of the first trimester and the middle of the second. This would means abortion would still be perfectly legally acceptable with no strings or pre-requirements for the first trimester, and only after that point would it become problematic, and increasingly case by case basis.

    As for the lack of interest in men’s responsibilities in such things – until such time as we have an equal rights amendment, or a supreme court rules that the 14th implicitly provides one (which is highly unlikely), there will always be this perpetual disconnect which says that the onus is all on the woman. But as things currently stand, from a federal standpoint (and many states’) women are still second class citizens who are not explicitly granted all those sacrosanct rights upon which our legal system is supposedly based.

  • The code has been revised since first introduced but it was actually first put into law in 1942 (aka during WWII, unsurprisingly).

    Prior to this the Flag Code (not yet law) required the Bellamy salute. It was changed to hand over heart and made law at least partly because people felt the Bellamy salute looked too similar to the Nazi salute.

    I believe the more recent changes have simply been to allow out of uniform military personnel and veterans to use the military salute.

  • SamskaraDuhkha commented on the blog post A Trans-Walmart Moment

    2011-10-03 09:27:15View | Delete

    Actually, Autumn mentioned it as the first thing in her This & That: Open Thread on Wednesday September 21, which is the first place I read about.

  • The problem is that there is more than one type of Libertarian, some more rational than others. For example a belief in minimal government does not inherently mean a belief in no government at all. Nor does it necessarily mean that everything should be deregulated in favor of the free market. A more social libertarian perspective, within the US at least, is that the government should exist to uphold all the rights of the individual, and nothing else.

    In this view, government should only recognize marriage insomuch as is necessary to protect the rights of the individuals who choose to get married, or to allow those to get married etc. While still somewhat flawed, this is at least moderately in keeping with the basic principles of the constitution and bill of rights etc. It is also in accord with the idea of making marriage a private contract, which is by definition neutral to sexual orientation etc.

    Those fiscal libertarians who would argue that there should be no marriage at all from a government perspective, rather than redefining it from a simple contract perspective, are in essence saying that marriage has no rights the government needs to protect. Which is rather irrational when you consider it from the perspective of such things as joint mortgages, bank accounts, and yes, divorce. All things that would rationally fall under the protection of individuals rights from a free market perspective.

    In other words, many Libertarians are irrational and say things and act in ways that are inconsistent with their own core beliefs. This doesn’t necessarily mean those core beliefs are bad though. Just that all people of all political bent have tendencies to believe and try and rationalize things that don’t make any sense, and which may even be detrimental to themselves.

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