September 15, 2003

More on the Ninth Circuit Decision

While my earlier post on the Recall decision was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, there is a point. As another earlier post noted, all voting machines have error rates. There is no such thing as a perfect election. Further, if you look at the CalTech-MIT study that I cited, there is a nifty graphic that shows that in practically every state there is variation by county in terms of equipment used within the states. By the Ninth Circuit's logic, none of those states should be allowed to have elections until they have uniform equipment, and all elections in the past should be consider tainted, including the 2002 election in which Mr. Davis was re-elected (and elected the first time in 1998).

Also, the Ninth Circuit's logic would dictate that evey voter in the land would have to use the same equipment for all elections to meet the Equal Protection standard--this may indeed be a worthwhile goal, but it is a practical impossibility in the short or even medium term. And, again, we have been conducting election like this for decades and decades.

The main problem appears to be more an educational level issue than anything else. So, it is possible that perhaps some public education could solve part of the problem here and allow the election to continue as the California state constitution requires. Further, after the Florida debacle it is hard to argue that people aren't aware that punching the card all the way through is a really good idea.

There are some real issues here of whether this is a necessary delay, as well as the issue of the rights of those who followed the CA constitution and their rights to have this process work as it is supposed to under the law.

Posted by Steven Taylor at September 15, 2003 10:27 PM | TrackBack

You may also be interested in this lawsuit against the touch screen ballots that the 9th Circuit is due to hear in Oct. If they think the punch cards are bad, they might find touch screen ballots that replace the punch cards even worse.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California has agreed to hear oral arguments in a potentially groundbreaking lawsuit filed by a Libertarian against "unverifiable, non-recountable" touchscreen voting machines.

The suit seeks to halt the Riverside County, California government from installing and using Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touchscreen voting machines that produce no paper ballots.

In July, a widely publicized study from the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University revealed that paperless electronic voting machines are susceptible to fraud and tampering.

The study, conducted with the help of researchers from Rice University, found "serious bugs" in the software that runs Diebold Election Systems voting machines, one of the nation's leading manufacturers of electronic voting equipment.

Posted by: trigger at September 15, 2003 11:00 PM

Going off on your logic, we should go back to Ancient Greek voting methods using pot shards and pebbles. Any innovation to a voting method ends up causing some inequality even if the new method is fair. This ruling prevents any future voting innovation.

But the most important question is whether the Supreme Court will take up the case.

Posted by: Sean Hackbarth at September 15, 2003 11:28 PM

Okay, so the argument still holds. Your argument seems to be that, a) all voting machines have error rates b) voting machine quality varies within a state by counties.

This still does not invalidate the Ninth circuit's logic that there is a) a minimal, realistic standard can be set for voting machines b) no county should have a voting system that exceeds this minimum standard

I'm sorry, but it seems like you're creating a straw man that simply isn't supported by their ruling.

Again, I'm just an ignorant observer, but I don't see your logic at all.

Posted by: JohnC at September 16, 2003 12:22 AM

It gets worse Steven, check this quote from the plaintiff in the case:

"The other side has to answer the question, 'How can you hold an election when you know going in that because of the unacceptability of the machine, poor people and people of color are going to have a half or third of a chance of having their votes counted as white or more affluent individuals,'" Rosenbaum demanded to know. "That's a principle that every court ... has subscribed to."

Then if that is the case we will never have an election again.

NEWS FLASH: Stupid people will have trouble with ANY methodology.*

Besides, everyone is missing what the Supremes said in Gore vs Reality.

In Gore vs Reality, the supremes said that you could not use different standards to measure a votes in different jurisdictions. (A hanging chad can not count in one county and not in another. Remember THAT debate?)

That has nothing to do with how you collect said votes.


NOTE: If you think I called "poor people and people of color" stupid, think again. I did not do that, the ACLU did.

Posted by: Paul at September 16, 2003 06:41 AM

John C. is correct: there is no logic to Steven's post whatsoever. Steven apparently believes voting problems are just an education problem.

What escapes Steven is the fact most of the punch ballot problems occurred in some of FL's most affluent counties. Thus, Steven seems to be claiming that uneducated people somehow can become wealthy enough to live in one of this country's most affluent areas.

Were that true--surely Troy State would be America's French Riviera.

Posted by: JadeGold at September 16, 2003 09:19 AM


There is no logic to your post whatsoever (but that never stopped you before). It is perfectly clear that this action is a anti-democratic political ploy to steal the election, and is a jucicial ruling that only the chocolate making countries can truly appreciate.

Posted by: d-rod at September 16, 2003 10:40 AM

Again, I'm just an ignorant observer, but I don't see your logic at all.

That JohnC can not see logic when it placed before him is hardly newsworthy, he has been proving that for months.

Posted by: Paul at September 16, 2003 05:42 PM
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