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Statistics, Elections, Frustration

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the will-this-never-end? dept.

United States 1432

The word is that the Florida recount will be completed later today (before 5 EST). In the meantime, a couple of interesting bits related to math (which seems much more appropriate to Slashdot ;) The big one is of course the 'Voting Irregularity' in Palm Beach where supposedly thousands of seniors voted for Buchanan due to a badly designed ballot. this report (unfortunately, its a PDF) breaks down the returns on various counties and pretty much proves that something was wrong. Any math folks out there interested in doing their own take on the numbers? bwoodard sent in a mathematical argument for the electoral college written by MIT Prof, Alan Natapof. Hopefully we'll have more word later today. Update: 11/09 01:55 PM EDT by C :For those of you interested in seeing why there is such controversy over the Palm Beach County ballot, you can take a look at the ballot to see for yourself if it might be a bit unintuitive. If you'd like more food for thought, you can check out this article which talks a bit about the usability issues behind the ballot's design.

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Daley's crying about election iregularities (5)

JJ (29711) | more than 13 years ago | (#634730)

Does anyone else find it incredibly ironic that
the brothers Daley would be on national media crying about election irregularities? Just for the record, their father stole the 1960 presidential election for Kennedy away from Nixon.

Buchanan's relative lives there (1)

LennyDotCom (26658) | more than 13 years ago | (#634731)

I heard on the news he has a very politicaly active
relative in that area maybe he really did get most
of those votes

interesting take. (1)

Mike Bridge (8663) | more than 13 years ago | (#634732)

Congress had teetered on the verge of wrecking the electoral college, an institution that has no equal anywhere in the world. This group of ordinary citizens, elected by all who vote, elects, in turn, the nation's president and vice president. Though the college still stood, Natapoff worried that sometime soon, well-meaning reformers might try again to destroy it. The only way to prevent such a tragedy, he thought, would be to get people to understand the real but hidden value of our peculiar, roundabout voting procedure.
interesting take. read the article before you start flaming plz, he has some good points.

I just root for chaos (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 13 years ago | (#634735)

At this point, I don't really care who wins. I just hope somebody wins by 10 votes and everyone freaks out. By my quick calculations based on the 50% of the recount completed so far, if Gore keeps gaining votes at the current rate, he'll still fall short by about 100 votes. Also, I think it's really funny that page layout my decide a presidential election.


Re:Daley's crying about election iregularities (3)

milph (96370) | more than 13 years ago | (#634738)

Those who are willing to do shady things are usually the first to suspect others of similar things.

Butterfly ballot (1)

Kreeblah (95092) | more than 13 years ago | (#634740)

I honestly don't see what's so confusing about the butterfly ballot. I took a look at one of Florida's butterfly ballots (in the disputed area), and it seemed perfectly clear to me that, since the second arrow was between the first and the third, and that because Buchannan was there, punching the second hole would be a vote for Buchannan. You just have to look at both sides of the ballot (right and left). It's ironic, though, that this would confuse some elderly people who voted, because this was designed to be easier to read (bigger print, so they had to redo the layout).

What's interesting about that county... (2)

AntiPasto (168263) | more than 13 years ago | (#635608)

is that in the last election they were the strongest Buchannan county in the country. I guess you all can extrapolate whatever from that.


Re:It's not just Bucannan votes (2)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 13 years ago | (#635610)

That's very interesting, and I was wondering the same thing. With six million voters, more or less, how many voters are there in each county - and in Palm Beach County - what percentage was spoiled compared to, say, Sarasota County, which is also quite high in retirees.

Moreover, I don't seem to see people including the fact that each party has to approve of the ballot, which means the ballot had Democratic approval before the election.

On another note, at what point can we simply say that if you can't follow instructions, or you're really that confused, maybe voting shouldn't be your major concern. You shouldn't have to pass an IQ test in order to vote, but you should at least understand what's going on.

I have also heard that the number of Buchanan votes, while high compared to neighboring counties, is consistent with the number of Buchanan votes in the 1996 election. Maybe the ballot was bad then, too, but I didn't hear people complaining.

I know this seems to lean as being Bush biased, but I did not vote for him and make no claim as to his ability to lead. I tried to keep this neuteral, but these are my thoughts on the matter. I think the whole election was great because of how exciting it became, and voter turnout was high (higher then what they claim, but that's another topic) but I think it's a shame that, regardless who wins, we will have a sore loser who is going to drag this into court and generally make the election feel "dirty."

the other link (1)

frknfrk (127417) | more than 13 years ago | (#635616)

abcnews watchdog [] scroll over halfway down and read 'Possibly More False Information'. -sam

More information about the issue (4)

cleanmachine (155967) | more than 13 years ago | (#635618)

Additional information gathered from an NPR call-in yesterday. (I don't know if they have been confirmed.)
  • The actual ballots were different from the sample ballots given out ahead of time, adding to the probability of mistakes.
  • At least one woman, realizing that she had accidently voted for Buchanan instead of Gore, was not allowed to a new ballot. Instead, the election working took the ballot from her hand. Note: Instructions on sample ballot said that if a voter made a mistake while punching out a ballot, he/she should tell an election officer and the voter would receive a new ballot.

It's absolutely amazing that a something like this could affect the election. I hope that someone investigates this.

Re:Electoral College explained... (1)

arnoroefs2000 (122990) | more than 13 years ago | (#635619)

Ehm yes...thank you, that made it even more clear to me that the Electoral College system is totally unfair, I would even go as far as saying that it's NOT democratic at all. People should choose the president, not states.

Re:revote? -- flame me if you must (1)

foo1971 (230747) | more than 13 years ago | (#635621)

it won't happen.. its unfair to bush, because all of the nader votes (people now knowing they are useless) will go to gore. gore has lost this one.. he's just making it harder on himself by keeping his hopes alive.

Palm Beach (2)

finkployd (12902) | more than 13 years ago | (#635622)

I've seen the palm beach ballot (I assume most of us have by now) and it's not that confusing. Could it have been designed better? Sure, complain to County Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore, a Democrat. She basically said the ballot was drawn up that way because there were so many candidates and because she wanted the names to be large enough for older people to read. I don't think you can claim Vast Right-Wing Conspiricy(tm) on this one.

We aren't talking about a processor schematic here, it was very simple to follow the bold arrows from the name to the punch hole next to the name. If you are too ----ing stupid to follow directions and do that, then how did you even find the voting place to begin with? :)

It's been said by others, but it bears repeting. Buchanan has relatives in Palm beach, and often gets pretty good turnout there.

Last, I keep hearing stories of 'thousands' calling up the Gore campaign in tears saying the voted for the wrong person because of the ballot. How on Earth did you realise that at home, hours later, and not WHEN YOU VOTED? The whole thing sounds pretty suspicious.


Something else to consider (1)

Microsift (223381) | more than 13 years ago | (#635624)

Would the Electoral College outcome be different if this election were held in 2001?

The number of electoral college votes each state receives is based on the 1990 census; would the result be different if we used the 2000 census? Does this explain how Gore could win the popular vote but (possibly)lose the election.

Another interesting point, Washington DC only gets 3 votes in the Electoral College(The most votes it can have is the same number as the least populated state). DC gets underrepresented in the EC, probably not enough to sway this election, but interesting...

None of this would have happened... (1)

Mandomania (151423) | more than 13 years ago | (#635633)

If Bush would have called "No do-overs". I mean, come on.


Re:Kennedy/Nixon 1960 (1)

jaoswald (63789) | more than 13 years ago | (#635634)

It's true that Kennedy would still have won without Illinois, but Texas was also pretty close, and a guy named Lyndon Johnson had a lot of influence there. If both states had gone for Nixon, Kennedy would have lost.

first hand Palm Beach ballot experience (1)

TomSawyer (100674) | more than 13 years ago | (#635641)

Here are some points to hopefully deflate some conspiracy theories:

The networks called Florida before voting in Florida had even finished. The pan handle of Florida is in the central time zone. There was still almost an hour of voting left when Florida was called. Anyone who was channel surfing through the networks might have noticed that NBC/MSNBC was showing raw scores along with their predictions. Throughout the "Gore takes Florida" phase of the evening the raw scores were consistenly in favour of Bush by at least 3 percentage points.

As for the Palm Beach ballot being confusing:

A week before elections, every registered voter in Palm Beach receives a sample ballot in the mail that looks exactly like the one bolted to the voting "booth" (it's really a table with partitions). At your discretion you can mark up your sample ballot and take it to the voting "booth" with you. This makes it so that there are no surprises when it's time to punch holes and you have a week to think your options over in case you see more choices or issues than you were expecting to have to vote on.

Some notes on the voting "booth" in Palm Beach:

1: If you insert the punch card into its slot incorrectly, all your holes will be made incorrectly. The worst that can maybe happen is that you'll vote for a republican congressman when you were on the presidents' ballot page thinking you were punching a hole for Gore. That'd be terrible because your presidential vote wouldn't be registered and by the time you got to the end of the ballot those votes wouldn't register on the card either.

2: If you insert the punch card into its slot correctly, then the arrows on the ballot pages point directly to a pin hole. The arrows are about 1 cm in size and the pin hole maybe 1 mm. All you need to do is follow the big arrow pointing to a well spaced little hole.

3: The ballot layout was created by the staff of the Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections. She, a democrat, personally approved it. The democratic & republican parties of Palm Beach then both approved it, too. Why? It was designed to avoid the confusion that could have been caused if all the candidates were crammed onto one page or were spread out over two non-facing pages.

Here are pictures of the ballot (1)

Randy Rathbun (18851) | more than 13 years ago | (#635644)

They are on Rush Limbaugh's site, because that is the only link I have handy (a republican friend of mine sent it to me). Here it is []

And I agree. What? You can't follow an arrow?

Re:Florida Ballots (4)

ranessin (205172) | more than 13 years ago | (#635646)

"Come on, if someone can't figure that out, they really shouldn't be voting."

I'm tired of this Bullshit! Everyone's votes counts, and everyone should be allowed to vote. Just because someone doesn't meet your standard of intelligence doesn't mean they're not worthy of voting for the candidate of their choice.


Re:pontifications on florida (1)

LtFiend (232003) | more than 13 years ago | (#635647)

And how would that be fair? We know that the Rep. kept hold on the house (by a small margin) but it still gives us a pretty good foresight into what would happen if that scenario was put into action and not based on the peoples vote. Yes I know indirectly it does but when you figure Gore has the majority vote and Bush has the electoral you have to wonder what this country is going to do when someone is in office and how much power that person will actually have. Especially if that person was not a majority holder. It's time to reform the electoral college a bit and get something that echo's the peoples opinions in our government. We all need to be watchdogs for this office now. Just because the elections over doesn't mean our job as citizens stop. Finally I think the press rigged this for the ratings.

What we really need (2)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 13 years ago | (#635658) a preferential voting scheme like (I've been told) they use in Australia, and like ICANN used in its recent election. I.e.: You vote for a first and second choice if there are more than 2 candidates. If no candidate achieves a majority, the last place candidate is chucked, and the 2nd-choice votes on those ballots are credited to the remaining ones. This process repeats until someone exceeds the magic 50% of votes cast.

The beauty of this is that you never have to avoid supporting the candidate you really like in order to avoid helping the one you like the least. I.e., you could vote for Nader (or Buchanan) without having to worry about tipping a close election to Bush (or Gore). Of course, this is exactly why it will probably never happen here - neither of the two major parties wants to make it easier to support third parties.

Re-vote in Dade county (1)

bmongar (230600) | more than 13 years ago | (#635661)

What happens if there is a revote in Dade county? It is a highly Democratic area with several voting irregularaties, not just the ballot. Some people were turned away because 'their race didn't match the voting registration' and others were told there were no ballots when there were. 19,000 votes were thrown out, with a high probablity that most were for Gore, which would have made him a clear winner in florida, no recount.

So if the challenge goes through, and Dade gets a new election, one county in the US decides the president

Ballots (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 13 years ago | (#635663)

I saw the ballots in question on CNN's website. There is NO WAY anyone could be mislead into voting for the wrong person unless you're extremely stupid or not paying any attention whatsoever. These blind old fogies should take a little time and READ before they sign something (or in this case, punch a whole). Christ, there were ARROWS pointing directly to the correct holes -- what did they think the arrows were fucking for?!

As for the Electoral College needing to be changed -- that's bullshit. Everyone says "but it's such an unfair system!" -- untrue. The electoral system was intended to make things simpler and fairer in a multi-party system and was designed in a time when there were no political parties, but many were expected to exist.

The problem isn't to kill the electoral college process, but to bolster its importance by encouraging a greater choice in candidates and parties. Of course, it is in the best interest of the GOP and DNC to oppose that and, instead, agree with the downfall of an otherwise worthy electoral system.

Re:first hand Palm Beach ballot experience (1)

frknfrk (127417) | more than 13 years ago | (#635664)

The CNN page on the palm beach ballot shows that the sample ballot had reversed positions of gore and bush, fyi.

Re:interesting take. (1)

stimuli (37803) | more than 13 years ago | (#635665)

interesting take. read the article before you start flaming plz, he has some good points.

Sure, his points are interesting, and his math is sound, but why does he presume that the probability of casting the one deciding vote is the whole measure of voter power? That is not how I would intuitively express it. What of a person who suggests that the measure of voter power is the ability to contribute meaningfully to the sum?

Republicans in New York or Californial can rightfully say that their presidential vote is irrelevant, and will remain so unless there is a dramatic shift in the state's demographic, similarly for Democrats in states like Alabama or Nevada. These individuals can claim that their vote would have more meaning in a popular election.

Re:Lessons (1)

ranessin (205172) | more than 13 years ago | (#635674)

What a load of crap! Everyone over the age of 18 (and in my opinion, even younger) is qualified to vote, regardless of whether or not *you* approve, asshole.


Math "proves" nothing. (2)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 13 years ago | (#635676)

All it shows is that something is different in that county. I heard a report on the radio yesteraday that Buchanan has a cousin that lives in the county and that that county cast a lot of votes for buchanan in some other election.

Butterfly ballot not legal (1)

TBone (5692) | more than 13 years ago | (#635677)


For reference, here's the prescribed format of a ballot to be used for general elections in the state of Florida:

(slashdot is mangling it) I can't post a proper link. the URL is: mode=Display_Statute&URL=Ch0101/titl0101 .htm&StatuteYear=2000&Title=%2D%3E2000%2D%3EChapte r%20101

There's the first stub for official signoffs, the second stub for other signoffs, then the actual ballot. Notice the wording:

TO VOTE for a candidate whose name is printed on the ballot, mark a cross (X) in the blank space at the RIGHT of the name of the candidate for whom you desire to vote. To vote for a candidate whose name is not printed on the ballot, write the candidate's name in the blank space provided for that purpose.
It's set up this way because people read English from right to left, then skip to the next line. The butterfly ballot is in violation of this wording by having checkboxes to the left of the candidates, and breaking from the single-column format.

And as far as a lot of Buchanan friends and family - his daughter was quoted on our news as saying that something is wrong, because he would never have gotten 3 times the state average of votes, especially not in that county.

For those of you who want stats, tat PDF document up there basically says that the Buchanan/Bush ratio across almost all of FL was between 0.001 and 0.011, with the bell curve centered at 0.004 and a deviation of 0.0021. Palm Coast fell at 0.22, 8 S.D.'s above the center.

Re:Florida Ballots (1)

alprazolam (71653) | more than 13 years ago | (#635680)

although it's a pretty disappointing way to pick the president, i basically say tough shit to those who erred on their ballots, regardless of the election officials actions. i don't expect it to lead to a revote, although the officials may have broken the law and get punished accordingly. i think the rest of the country doesn't care about palm county and if the democrats do try and force a revote there will be a huge public outcry against them. i expect most people to say if you're to stupid to figure out how to vote, tough shit, it's your fault, not george bush's.

Slashdot demographics (1)

Epeeist (2682) | more than 13 years ago | (#635681)

The majority of people on Slashdot who have commented about the layout of the ballot form seem to think it was OK and that the fault lies with the people who filled it in wrongly.

As a gross generalisation I would guess that the majority of Slashdotters are young, bright with good eyesight. I would also guess that few of them have continual contact with the elderly or the less bright.

If you are one of these archetypal Slashdotters then be a little more understanding of people with less abilities than yourself.

Jesse Ventura, our nation needs you! (5)

spam-o-tron mk1 (237603) | more than 13 years ago | (#635804)

Jesse Ventura, where are you? The nation needs you! You're the only one with the connections, the expertise, and the lack of major party affiliation to do what needs to be done:


Gore vs. Bush in a steel cage. Cheney and Lieberman waiting for the tag. Both houses of Congress on the sidelines threatening to turn the match into a full-on bicameral brawl!

There has never an opportunity like this before, and there probably won't be one again.

What are you waiting for?


Re:interesting take. (2)

Mike Bridge (8663) | more than 13 years ago | (#635808)

In 1824, Andrew Jackson beat his rival, John Quincy Adams, by more popular and then more electoral votes--99 versus 84--but still lost the election because he didn't win a majority of electoral votes (78 went to other candidates). When that happens, the House of Representatives picks the winner.
ahhh, back when there was more than a 2 party system.....

Florida Ballots (3)

Hoarke42 (77421) | more than 13 years ago | (#635810)

I just love how the people figure out they voted for the wrong person afterwards as though some great epiphany comes with lights from heaven and angels singing.

It was "figured out" by the rep for the district who said something along the lines of "There's no way that many people here voted for Buchanan, something must be wrong". Even though a similar amoung of votes for the Reform party came from there last election...

I HAVE seen the pictures of the Florida ballots. Come on, if someone can't figure that out, they really shouldn't be voting. In fact, they'd probably struggle with the games here: []

Recount isn't enough... (4)

pingflood (105369) | more than 13 years ago | (#635814) they're still awaiting the overseas absentee ballots. Last year there were some 2,300 of them, and that may (depending on recount results) be enough to change things around...


PS -- Not to mention we have another month and change before the electoral college vote; if Bush ends up with 271 of the electorals, no telling what could happen there.

Lessons (2)

Siqnal 11 (210012) | more than 13 years ago | (#635816)

Ok, what have we learned from Campaign 2000 - First, the media is irresponsible. The early projection of Florida was idiocy at its finest. This election was and is still too close to call, yet the media egos want to be the first one to call the winner, as if anyone cares who called it first. I think the media needs to examine the use of exit polls, and also needs to get back to reporting raw numbers.

Second, every vote counts, every vote. Those who did not vote have no right to complain about the outcome

Third, how hard is it to vot? I am having a hard time buying the fact that people were confused by the ballot layout. I have taken a look and it seemed pretty easy to me. I also have a hard time believing that elderly voters, who presumably have been casting their vote for years, all of the sudden have become too feeble to understand how a simple voting machine works.

Finally, I think the Electoral College needs a second look. Majority rules, and the popular vote should be the determining factor.

Regardless of the outcome, I think the media needs to report the facts, and not speculate on possible outcomes.


Re:Buchanan's relative lives there (1)

Mr.Phil (128836) | more than 13 years ago | (#635819)

He also had something like 8,000 votes in the primary elections, and with the 2,000 he had there durning the regular election, it makes sence that some of his supporters from the primary voted for him on the 7th.

Re:Daley's crying about election iregularities (1)

Flounder (42112) | more than 13 years ago | (#635821)

And this sure explains why the Democrats, the NAACP, and Jesse Jackson are screaming and crying about the ballots in South Palm Beach

If the old people in Florida can't follow simple directions, then maybe they shouldn't be voting. The ballots here in Ohio are almost identical to the ballots in South Palm Beach. And there's no spike of Buchanan votes here.

Maybe the sun got into their eyes.

Electoral College explained... (5)

don_carnage (145494) | more than 13 years ago | (#635835)

If you're interested in learning just what the hell the Electoral College is good for, then check out this link: ele ctoral-college.htm []


It's not just Bucannan votes (3)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 13 years ago | (#635839)

One of the comments that's been made is that there were something in the order of 19,000 ballot papers in Palm Beach County that were punched twice and therefore spoilt. The assumption's been made, though I don't think anyone can tell for sure without examining each, that many of these were people who punched both holes by the candidates they chose assuming that they had to vote for both President and VP. Given the Democratic majority in Palm Beach County, it's reasonable to assume that the vast majority of the spoilt papers would have been votes for Gore/Lieberman.

But one thing that's been absent in news of this is an analysis of how many papers spoilt in a similar way Palm Beach County would normally expect, given the demographics.

Does anyone know what the deal is there?

For more news on this, check out The Palm Beach Post [] .

Electoral college makes up for senate imbalance (1)

The Wookie (31006) | more than 13 years ago | (#635841)

I heard Alan Dershowitz on the radio yesterday talking about the electoral college and he mentioned something I had never considered before. The electoral college balances out the extra voting power that the smaller states have in the senate. Hawaii has just as much voting power in the senate as California, so to balance that, California has more sway in the presidential election.

spelling errors (1)

VAXGeek (3443) | more than 13 years ago | (#635842)

You know Rob, I'm experiencing Frusteration at the way you spell things around here.
a funny comment: 1 karma
an insightful comment: 1 karma
a good old-fashioned flame: priceless

We need to move America into the modern world (1)

Jon Erikson (198204) | more than 13 years ago | (#635843)

As big a fan as I am of my country of birth, it has to be said that the American system of "democracy" which we are so proud of is no democracy at all. And if there is one thing that this farce of an election has shown, it's that something needs to change. Any nation that elects a leader who got less votes than the opposition cannot be said to have any kind of representative government.

In fact when you consider that the Electoral College a) doesn't even have to be voted in democratically and b) can vote whichever way they damn well please, you've got a situation in which democracy is nothing more than the current paradigm, but is not part of the law of the land! I honestly find this scary, as it opens the door for a strong government (if we ever get one) to introduce all manner of ills - socialism, liberalism or hell, even communism! We've seen how little the Constitution matters when it becomes inconvenient for those in power.

It's scary that the foundations of modern America are so flimsy, and it's scary how little people care. Hopefully this election will result in some changes being made, but at the same time a deadlocked government will probably be unable to do anything at all for the next four years. In fact, whoever wins this time will probably lose next time, because they will be seen as ineffective due to the even split in the Senate, HoR and Congress.

Keep in mind (2)

superid (46543) | more than 13 years ago | (#635845)

The ballot in Palm Beach was reviewed and approved by both the Democratic and Republican parties well in advance of the election. Barring out and out fraud, should we redo the whole county/state because of a particularly high density of stupid people?

Hmm (1)

Icebox (153775) | more than 13 years ago | (#635846)

I'm not quite sure what that PDF proves but it is interesting. Its just one graph and one way to look at things and anyone who has been on Slashdot long should know that things like that can be misleading (let ZDnet benchmark web servers).

Maybe its because I don't really feel too sorry for the people in Florida who voted for the wrong guy. You're expected to at least pay attention when you're voting.

In addition to the Bucannan votes.... (1)

MeowMeow Jones (233640) | more than 13 years ago | (#635847)

There were also 19,000 ballots that were thrown out because they voted for more than one president. I highly doubt this was some sort of intentional civil disobedience.

Faulty ballot (1)

padjet1 (241815) | more than 13 years ago | (#635860)

For you and I looking at the ballot now, it is decipherable, but to someone with poor eyesight, in a hurry, mistakes could have been made. What's significant is that the dual column format was only used for the presidential candidates...for the house and senate everything was in a single column on the left of the holes.

Basically, in West Palm Beach County, Buchanan received between 2300 and 2600 more votes than predicted by simple statistics. That result is 4 standard deviations above the expected -- something with 15,000 to 1 odds!

Regardless of what happens with the recount, this thing won't end, as they have to wait for the 2,000 or so more overseas ballots, and undoubtedly a ridiculous litigation bonanza.

Re:Jesse Ventura, our nation needs you! (2)

Flounder (42112) | more than 13 years ago | (#635862)

Gore vs. Bush in a steel cage. Cheney and Lieberman waiting for the tag. Both houses of Congress on the sidelines threatening to turn the match into a full-on bicameral brawl!

Why limit it to the Dems and Reps? Let's get all the third party candidates in there. Nader, Buchanan, Browne, etc.

It's the ROYAL RUMBLE! of politics. Winner gets the huge belt and the presidency!

Electoral College == Obsolete (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 13 years ago | (#635864)

The electoral college is a holdover from a very long time ago, when it would have been impossible to keep track of the popular vote on a national scale, and the counting would have been completed sometime after the end of the president-elect's eighth term in office. Now, however, the media keeps such careful track of the popular vote that they actually influence elections. We have the technology at last to not only count all of our citizens and keep track of statistical data about them, but to keep track of how many voted which way. The electoral college is sadly unbalanced, unevenly distributing its electorate. It supposedly could still deal with a 'mass misjudgement' on the part of the voters, but it seems to me that we already have Bush and Gore running...

Re:Butterfly ballot (1)

gotroot801 (7857) | more than 13 years ago | (#635866)

It's ironic, though, that this would confuse some elderly people who voted, because this was designed to be easier to read (bigger print, so they had to redo the layout).

The problem is two-fold:

  1. The arrows seemed a little small compared to the text (at least according to my 21-inch TV)
  2. Florida election law requires the check mark to be made to the right of the candidate's name, at least according to CNN.
  3. Some people who noticed their mistake ended up checking off two candidates' circles.

If anything, the election chaos doesn't end at 5PM ET, because there are still a number of absentee ballots from overseas that need to be filed - from both military personnel who may be inclined to vote Republican, and US citizens in Israel who may be inclined to vote Democrat.

something in the water (1)

dkh (125857) | more than 13 years ago | (#635867)

Sorry, but look at the picture of the ballot in question on CNN [] . There are huge arrows pointing to the proper locations to punch for each candidate. You would have to be serieously obtuse to find it confusing.

that Palm Beach ballot (3)

beagle (99378) | more than 13 years ago | (#635869)

Did anybody actually see the ballot? While I agree that it could have been better designed (our NC ballot was pretty good, FWIW) anybody who was paying attention would not have voted for the wrong party.

See the ballot for yourself here [] .

I predict ONE Outcome. . . . (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 13 years ago | (#635871)

. . .and that is there will be legislation to prevent Networks from broadcasting election results OR projections until ALL precincts voting in a given election close.

They'll justify it by saying that as broadcasters must do public service to use the public airwaves, that predicting winners before it's ALL over is NOT in the public interest. . .

In other words, it won't be over until the wee hours of the morning, as they're still voting in Honolulu. . .

Doesn't anyone read anymore!? (1)

bearclaw (217359) | more than 13 years ago | (#635873)

Remember when your elementary school teachers always told you to reread the instructions before starting your homework?

I'm sorry, but this is utter bullsh*t. When you go to vote, there are numerous instructions laid out for you to read, there are instructions in the voting booth itself, and if you still do not understand, you can have election judges (one republican, one democrat) go into the booth with you to help you vote. had some pictures of the ballots, and they hardly look confusing. People are just looking for something to whine about.

Statistics, Elections, Frusteration (1)

Typingsux (65623) | more than 13 years ago | (#635874)


Is that a new Al Gore invention, just like this wonderful internet I'm on?

Its nothing to do with "pure chance" (2)

Stormie (708) | more than 13 years ago | (#635896)

I have to say, the "maths" on that Palm Beach story are pretty shonky. "The probability that Buchanan would get so many votes in Palm Beach by chance is less than 1 in 3,000,000,000,000,000" ?! Come on.. votes aren't evenly distributed, there are such things as demographics.

That graph makes it look some huge landslide to Buchanan in Palm Beach, but according to CNN [] , he got 3407 votes in that county. According to the mean, you'd only have expected 800-900. You know, there are a lot of reasons why he could have pulled an extra 2500 votes in that county beyond mass voter confusion.

What was his campaign like there? Are there a few big churches that were leaning on their worshippers to get out there and vote for him? Did he have 4x as many supporters out canvassing for him as in other counties? (come on, you know that could mean 4 people compared to only 1 elsewhere). Has anyone even asked the Buchanan campaign for an opinion?

Anyway.. I'm just a UK-resident Australian, it's nothing to do with me.. but that bullshit graph made it look like every voter was a dice that got tossed and was 100x more likely to come up "Bush" or "Gore" than "Buchanan", rather than an actual thinking human being 1.

1 - OK, I don't think anyone who voted Buchanan was really doing much "thinking". ;-)

Palm Beach (2)

joshv (13017) | more than 13 years ago | (#635898)

Yes, something seems fishy in Palm Beach, but without actually holding another election I don't see how we could possibly sort out what the people in that county intended.

I saw the ballot in question, it did not seem all that confusing to me, but what do I know. A big arrow next to the ballot bunch seems unambigous to me.

What is fascinating is that if this ends up in a protracted legal battle it might bring about the demise of the electoral college system. The foreign press is already wondering why we are still arguing when Gore won the popular vote (albeit by a slim margin).

Another way to reform the presidential election process which is much simpler than scraping the electoral college is to change the state laws that govern how the electors in the electoral college vote. Most people don't know this, but each state determines how their electors vote - most states implement winner take all (New Hampshire is an exception I believe). The states have the power to change it so that the candidates divvy up the electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote in that state or in any other way they wish.


Vote Fraud (5)

dmuth (14143) | more than 13 years ago | (#635900)

Since it seems that this whole election is coming down to Florida, I think people will find this article [] to be of interest. It talks about vote fraud occuring back in 1997, where the ex-mayor of Miami, Xavier Suarez, had his election overturned on charges of vote fraud.

What's slightly more disturbing is that the article goes on to say:

Suarez now sits on the executive committee of the Miami-Dade Republican party and was specifically involved this year in helping get out the Republican vote
Is it just me, or does anybody else see this as a significant problem? Especially with the outcome of this election hinging on Florida's vote.

Electorals (1)

LtFiend (232003) | more than 13 years ago | (#635901)

Since the Electorates?Electorals aren't required to vote the way their states voted does anyone think that the closeness of this race will sway them to vote diffrently? Some people say this happened in the Dewey/Nixon election. Any thoughts. And who here feels that the press isn't loving every damn second of this?

pontifications on florida (5)

phantomlord (38815) | more than 13 years ago | (#635903)

I've been thinking this morning about the elections... My calculations on the statiscal probability of the outcome currently shows Bush winning by a 540 vote margin. Either way with a number that close and all the controversy over fraud/misvotes/the early call, both campaigns have the ability to challenge the outcome in court. More on that in a minute... but if you go back to the 1960 election, Chicago and other areas were ripe with fraud benefitting the dems and Nixon, being the leader that he was, got up and said that he wouldn't challenge the vote because it was in the best interest of the office of the presidency to let it stand. Kinda funny that the man later nearly brought down with an impeachment cares more about the rule of law than the man who got off on the iced tea defense, huh?

Anyways... The ballots in Miami-Dade county should stand by law because all challenges to the ballot format must be made before the first vote is cast and ALL voters and campaigns in that county received an instructional copy of the ballot weeks before the election. That leaves outright fraud( forged absentee ballots, dead people voting, etc ) and the suppression of republican voters in the west(due to the early miscall of Florida going to Gore) as the most likely challenges.

I think a court ABSOLUTELY must not allow a revote. It would be unfair for one county or one state to have the power to elect the president knowing the status of the rest of the vote before walking into the booth. It also wouldn't be fair for a court to statistically modify the vote of Miami-Dade county based on demographic or other information as the votes were cast and if people were truly unsure of their vote, they could have asked for help from the officials at the polling center.

If there isn't a decisive winner, I think the ONLY fair thing to do, and this may rise to the level of a decision by the Supreme Court, would be to throw out the ENTIRE 25 electoral votes in Florida as if they had gone to a different candidate. Because neither man received a majority of the electoral votes(270), the Constitution says it is up to the newly elected House of Representatives to select the President. It seems the only way to ensure the rule of law is obeyed.

the palm county ballot (1)

frknfrk (127417) | more than 13 years ago | (#635905)

abcnews (or it might have been cnn) stated that over 19,000 ballots from palm county were thrown out because more than one vote for president was punched. this is in comparison with something like 3,000 ballots which were thrown out due to senate races, etc. 19,000 votes from a heavily democratic county would be interesting to know who those people actually wanted to vote for, i would hope that the florida electoral college would like to know who they wanted to vote for before casting their electoral votes the wrong way. also, anyone else read (also on cnn or abcnews, i cannot remember of course) about the fbi investigation into phone and election fraud by a republican phone bank in california? apparently, democrats in west virginia were being told by callers that the WV governor had not endorsed Gore, when in fact Gore was the first Democratic candidate the WV governer had endorsed since LBJ. Also another state received calls from the phone bank telling voters if they tried to go to the polls without their actual physical voter's registration card, they could be in serious legal trouble. anyway... -sam

Re:Florida Ballots (2)

EFGearman (245715) | more than 13 years ago | (#635906)

"I HAVE seen the pictures of the Florida ballots."

As have I and I can understand some of the confusion that resulted. Some people said that it appeared to them that they had to vote once for president and once for VP. Thus, they ended up voting twice and their votes were thrown out. Also, several people who accidently voted for Buchanan rather than Gore were told by polesters that they 'could not' change their vote. That is wrong. If you accidently vote the 'wrong' way (wrong as in not for who you wanted), then you can recast your vote. Last I heard, at least three lawsuits have been filed. If they go to their logical conclusion, Florida will have to revote the presidential election.

Eric Gearman

irregularities? (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 13 years ago | (#635926)

Um, I think we all know who the 'irregular vote' goes to.

  • The 'vote early, vote often' crowd wasn't voting for Bush.
  • Those dead people in Chicago weren't voting for Harry Browne.
  • If the single paper you have in order is your ballot, you're single issue isn't a tax cut.

Re:Daley's crying about election iregularities (1)

trollercoaster (250101) | more than 13 years ago | (#635928)

well, dubya's gonna win this race, so here's the likely scenario. two years from now, as is usual with congressional elections in an off-year with a new prez, congress goes to the dems. Then, it's ballot-gate time. lots of hearings and money spent with the dems finding something, anything, to impeach dumbass, whoops, i mean dubya, to get the repubs back for what they did to willie.

watch it happen.

Re:Recount isn't enough... (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 13 years ago | (#635929)

Florida, as I understand things, requires absentee ballots to be /received/ prior to the closing of the polls, not just postmarked on election day. Don't fall into the same trap as some of the stupid newscasters that were cited this fact repeatedly and still refused to quit asking about what you just mentioned. And I'm all for defection of the electors. It'd just even more strongly prove that we need electoral reform.

Re:In addition to the Bucannan votes.... (2)

Flounder (42112) | more than 13 years ago | (#635931)

There were also 19,000 ballots that were thrown out because they voted for more than one president. I highly doubt this was some sort of intentional civil disobedience.

Dual presidency! Gore and Bush have to share the desk, the house, and the paycheck. To make a decision, they play rock paper scissors.

Re:Keep in mind (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 13 years ago | (#635933)

Nah, just hand out free liquor and sports cars, and let Darwin cull out the stupid (g)

But, really. . .the time to complain about ballot design is BEFORE teh election, and as both parties vetted it up front, it seems to be a case of sour grapes. . .

Re:Electoral college makes up for senate imbalance (1)

dkh (125857) | more than 13 years ago | (#635935)

Strange, I was always under the impression that the senatorial power was balanced out by the house who's number are determined by population.

Voting Fraud (1)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 13 years ago | (#635936)

Big deal... so the old people don't know how to vote. Could it possibly be fair to hold a re-election in just those counties? Absolutely not... Voter turnout would be close to 100%.

Discounting those of you that think this is a "vast right wing conspiracy", the confusing ballot was written by a Democrat that thought that the big text would be easier for the elderly to read. The people in the two counties were given sample ballots clearly explaining how to vote, giving them nothing other than their own ignorance to explain for the voting. Can we hold them accountable for that? I know that we can't hold the whole nation accountable for their mistake.

Also, there's the "liar" factor. The government does not now, nor ever know who I voted for. I could SAY that I mistakenly voted for Buchanan, and that they should just take a vote away from him and give it to Gore. That wouldn't be fair, because I could have voted for Gore all along, effectively giving him TWO votes by me. The only fair way would be to hold another election (which would be unfair for the other party, since George W. Bush WON and should be our next president.)

What then can we say for the old people? Sorry... pay more attention next time. It's no use complaining now, they should have paid closer attention (or asked for assistance if they didn't understand.) Their only recourse is to sue the Democrat that made the ballot, but they cannot overturn the electoral process because of incompetance on their part.

Re:Daley's crying about election iregularities (1)

NecrosisLabs (125672) | more than 13 years ago | (#635938)

It is pretty amusing, but remember, Nixon could have protested; however there was a lot of "irregularities" from the downstate ballots that would have come to light that Nixon probably would not want to have been discovered.

What the... frusteration? (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#635956)

Okay, this is an obvious troll, but someone tell me, is this misspelling meant as a pun?

revote? -- flame me if you must (1)

syann (224323) | more than 13 years ago | (#635959)

first off, I didn't vote for nader, gore, buchanan, or bush. I live in Ohio. I voted in Ohio.

Here is a controversial point, one that many may find appalling. But since it is a free country still (I'm parading my 2c)... Here. Revote those countys. having the whole state of Florida revote is expensive for the voters. If Only 18K or so votes are in question lets eliminate uncertainty. Revote those countys! Isn't this the most fair? I welcome all critism to this idea. Please don't just reply with "thats stupid". Explain why. Thanks!

The Electoral College (1)

chrisroy (197227) | more than 13 years ago | (#635960)

Regardless of how things turn out in Florida (which is bound to be bad no matter what happens), couldn't the EC still pick Gore come next month? What would be the ramifications of that?

Palm Beach 'Butterfly Ballot' is not new! (1)

ericlj (81729) | more than 13 years ago | (#635962)

According to Fox News this morning, they have been using that ballot design for 30 years. If it has suddenly become confusing, that probably says more about the Palm Beach electorate than about the ballot design.

What's wrong with PDF? (1)

Col. Panic (90528) | more than 13 years ago | (#635964)

OK so xpdf doesn't provide the best clarity (sometimes I can't even read documents using it) but Acrobat reader is available for Linux for free and it works great. Now if they would just release a version that supports searching.

What's wrong with PDF? (1)

jaoswald (63789) | more than 13 years ago | (#635965)

I don't understand what the problem is with a .pdf file. It's a fully documented format, as opposed to, say MS Word, and I suspect that Ghostscript renders it, which would provide a reader for a wide range of platforms, if you aren't using one of the wide range of platforms that Adobe Reader works on. If Ghostscript isn't open-source enough for you, the format is well-documented enough that it would be as easy to write a reader for this as for any other typesetting format.

PDF preserves typographical appearance very well, allowing the author to include mathematical formulas, etc., unlike a pure text or HTML document. It's also closely related to PostScript, so that one can produce high-quality printed copies, unlike a bitmap graphic.

What alternative format provides all of these qualities?

That said, the document itself is pretty ugly.

Re:We need to move America into the modern world (2)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 13 years ago | (#635967)

I honestly find this scary, as it opens the door for a strong government (if we ever get one) to introduce all manner of ills - socialism, liberalism or hell, even communism!
Oh, for fuck's sake, no! Not the liberals!

I agree that the lack of accountability on the part of the electorate is scary, but I'm not ready to scrap the entire system. The recent article referenced by Slashdot (no link handy, sorry) mentioned some fairly compelling reasons to keep it around.

Re:We need to move America into the modern world (1)

cdipierr (4045) | more than 13 years ago | (#635995)

But the whole problem you have there is that we're not a democracy, nor do we claim to be so. We're a republic. We don't directly control what happens to us, we pick people to represent us.

And as much as quoting TV shows sounds silly, I'll quote The West Wing from last night, "Could the people do a better job picking [people to represent them]? Sure. But that's the system we have."

Re:Jesse Ventura, our nation needs you! (1)

Claudius (32768) | more than 13 years ago | (#636000)

Jesse Ventura, where are you?

When John McCain dropped out of the GOP race I fantasized about a "McCain-Ventura" ticket. No doubt it would have run the table in both the tag-team steel cage matchup and the election proper.

And.... (1)

ChrisGoodwin (24375) | more than 13 years ago | (#636001)

Not to mention, missepelling.

Mathamatics and Frusteration (3)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#636003)

CmdrTaco, on behalf of all writers, English teachers, linguists, crossword puzzle solvers and spelling bee champions, I would just like to say: "We love you!"

Re:Lessons (4)

JeffryG138 (215475) | more than 13 years ago | (#636005)

Those who did not vote have no right to complain about the outcome

Wow. First off, who are you to say that my right of freedom is speech is dependent on my responsibility to vote? I did jury duty this year -- can I at least moan a little? If people were confused by the ballots, then the ballots are confusing. I can see the mistake... second person listed, second hole. It is a dumb design. A lot of us may have the ability to figure it out, but the right to vote isn't dependent on your ability to figure out the layout of the ballot. NPR had an interview with a young lady that accidentally marked the wrong candidate (Patty-Patty Buke Buke), realized it, went out and asked for another ballot, and was denied -- nice. Anyhow...

Re:Electoral college makes up for senate imbalance (1)

trollercoaster (250101) | more than 13 years ago | (#636006)

um, i though that was what the house of reps was all about.

Clarification (1)

chrisroy (197227) | more than 13 years ago | (#636008)

I think my login had "Submit" and "Preview" reversed. Um, yeah, that's it.

I meant to clarify that by saying that the EC could still vote for Gore if Bush were to win Florida, which is what I currently see happening, lawsuits or not.

Re:that Palm Beach ballot (4)

don_carnage (145494) | more than 13 years ago | (#636010)

They said that once the card was slipped into the machine, that it was even more difficult.'s a good question: why the hell are we using punch cards still for something as important as an election? Shouldn't we be using technology that isn't 50 years old?


Re:Lessons (1)

crath (80215) | more than 13 years ago | (#636011)

I completely agree. I took a look at the ballot posted at Sun [] and anyone confused by this ballot is probably not qualified to vote!

the links (1)

frknfrk (127417) | more than 13 years ago | (#636036)

link to story about disqualified ballots [] and i can't currently find the phone fraud link atm, i'll post it when i do. -sam

5:00 might be optomistic (1)

NecrosisLabs (125672) | more than 13 years ago | (#636038)

If Gore wants to stick it out, there are nine more days for the absentee ballots to arrive; Gore could also want to make legal challenges that might make this even longer. There is a potential for a long slog ahead of us.

Re:Jesse Ventura, our nation needs you! (1)

Mike Bridge (8663) | more than 13 years ago | (#636039)

nah, let the candidates wife's and pets fight it out.

Re:Daley's crying about election iregularities (4)

Bucket58 (66579) | more than 13 years ago | (#636041)

Um... Have you seen the ballots there??? Ohio's ballot has all the candidiates for Pres on the left side of the page.. Each punchhole is separated by at least a row of punches.

like this.

Bush -> 0
Buch.-> 0
Gore -> 0


Palm Beach look's like this. []

When you are as old as some of these people are, would you like someone to tell you that you can't vote because you might screw up? 19,000+ people did this. One is a mistake, a couple of mistakes is coincidence, but this many mistakes just doesn't happen.

-- Bucket

Re:Electoral college makes up for senate imbalance (1)

SamBeckett (96685) | more than 13 years ago | (#636042)

The senate imbalance?? That is made up in the house, you blabbering fool!

Ballots are easier than programming a VCR? (1)

scotay (195240) | more than 13 years ago | (#636043)

Anyone who has tried to teach their mom how to program a VCR should know that older voters can easily get confused. From what I can see these ballots are confusing.

That being said, what can Florida do about it? It's up to individual voters to take the time to understand what they are doing at the time they are voting. These ballots were submitted for approval before the election and no one complained. If voters were confused, they had the opportunity to get help when they were casting their ballots. I think this is an example of how little thought process some people put into their voting.

This is the electoral equivalent of getting caught behind a Florida driver who doesn't understand the concept of the passing lane.

Strict Process OR Voters Constitutional Rights? (2)

maynard (3337) | more than 13 years ago | (#636044)

This is an argument between those who favor strict process and legal rule making versus those who believe that the constitution protects all citizen's voting rights.

A good example of this was St. Louis Missouri [] , where long lines of voters were turned away at the voting booths after the polls closed. This was after a local judge had ruled that the polls should remain open until after voters had their chance to cast their ballot. However, attorneys for the Bush/Cheney team appealed this decision in Federal court and got the polls closed while voters waited in line.

So, here we are. Choosing between strict rules, such as parsing what the meaning of "is", is versus trying to do the right thing, which I define as giving EVERY registered voter their opportunity to vote.

Bush/Cheney should welcome voters, even those who may vote against them. Why? Because their status as elected officials are now on the line. If they win this election after having turned away voters and misrepresented ballots with a confusing selection process, our very voting process is in jeopardy. And that is a real constitutional crisis.

Re:Butterfly ballot (1)

cdipierr (4045) | more than 13 years ago | (#636045)

Well, it obviously did confuse people. The Buchananon vote aside, there are also reports of 19,000 disqualified ballots due to having both the 2nd and 3rd hole punched.

If we need warning labels about not swallowing your Palm Pilot (exaggeration, but you get the idea), then I can see how people found this confusing even if you and I wouldn't have.

that what he gets.. (1)

foo1971 (230747) | more than 13 years ago | (#636070)

going after all those 'uneducated' votes has finally bitten a democratic politician in the ass.. you can give a bum a carton of cigarettes.. but you can't teach them to read..

Re:Palm Beach (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 13 years ago | (#636073)

Everyone needs to be a little more understanding. These people are senior citizens, and that generally means that their vision isn't up to par. Mine isn't so great either and, although I'm not even legally blind, even with correction I had difficulty making out the much simpler ballot in my home state. All the candidates for one position should simply be put in a single column, and their boxes should be heavily drawn to surround their holes.

Ballots approved by a Democrat (1)

bearclaw (217359) | more than 13 years ago | (#636074)

Also, if you read the article, you will notice that the ballot was approved by a Democratic election supervisor.

Re:I predict ONE Outcome. . . . (2)

MartinG (52587) | more than 13 years ago | (#636075)

Legislation is never any good if it tends to go against the grain of what people want. If you ask ppl now, they might _say_ they want this information supressed by legislation, but in reality, ppl want to know the results as early as possible as soon as they are available.

If you stop the media doing this, not only are you restricting the freedom of the press, it won't help because the information will find another way to spread. Probably somewhere on the net.

I know from what I have written it sounds like information has a mind of its own, and although we all know that isn't true, it does behave that way. Just like water "tries" to reach the lowest point.

I made my own computer election projection... (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#636076)

...using Quake 3. I pitted Sarge (representing George W. Bush) against Gorre (representing Al Gore). The map was Q3TOURNEY3, fraglimit 10, hardcore skill. Sarge won both; first 10 to 9, then 10 to 6. However, I'm wondering if I should do it again with the fraglimit set to 270.

Re:that Palm Beach ballot (1)

beagle (99378) | more than 13 years ago | (#636077)

why the hell are we using punch cards still for something as important as an election? Shouldn't we be using technology that isn't 50 years old?

We used a "complete the arrow" thing here in NC. Personally, just once I'd like to pull the levers in one of those old stand-up-behind-the-curtain things. I think THAT would be cool. I remember those machines from when I was in elementary school, but I never got to officially vote in one.

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