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12 November 2000

Figures don't lie, but liars figure.
-- ?

Everything's happening fast and furious in Florida, so all my comments will shortly be obsolete. I'll just hit some highlights:

  • Electoral College? Keep it. Maybe, though, change it so each state is not winner-take-all. I know I'd feel much better about my vote not being wasted just because my neighbors are all... different.

  • Manual recounts? They're legal under Florida law, they're preferred under Texas law, and the Bush campaign look like schmucks for not wanting them to be done in every county of Florida. Hand counts pick up missing votes; even if James Baker III thinks they aren't standardized or objective in Florida, they are still a valid legal method for recounts. Deal with it and request recounts everywhere else in Florida, eh?

  • Butterfly ballot? Seriously flawed, but can't sue successfully over it or the entire country will be mired in lawsuits over every little irregularity. The better way to fix it is to clean up and streamline the process (and redesign the ballots to remove all ambiguity) for future elections.

  • Palm Beach voters = stupid? It makes for a funny joke -- ha ha, look at the dumb old people -- but the ballot is in fact full of usability problems, and ballots should not leave any room for error.

    If radio buttons on web forms allowed people to choose more than one option, some people would do it. Even if you take that as a sign of user stupidity, the solution isn't to sit back, laugh at the dumb users, and discard their input, it's to fix the interface so that such errors can't be made. Let's get the voting process fixed for next time, eh?

  • Revote? No. Again, it would spread nationwide and just cause too much chaos. We're stuck with the vote we had, let's just focus our efforts on making future votes more accurate and fair. Bringing in U.N. observers should be a serious consideration. We're clearly not that good at running elections.

  • The Nine Billion Names of Chad: Note to James Baker III and the various network anchor dumbasses: Just because the technical terms for the different ways the little cardboard boxes on ballots can be partially-punched-out come across as cutesy ('pregnant', 'swinging door', 'tri', 'dimpled'), it doesn't mean they are ambiguous terms, and it doesn't mean they are not objective standards for judging whether the ballots should be counted. Just because something sounds stupid doesn't mean it is stupid; I'm sure you at least feel that way about your own candidate, right?

James Baker III is lying when he says the vote-counters are "divining the voters' intent" with respect to the double-punched ballots. In actual fact, the counters are only dealing with the ballots that were initially treated as having no presidential vote; the double-punched ballots are being left out. He knows this. He's lying.

He also says it's kind of funny how the recounts are producing more Gore votes than the original count, as though it's evidence for Gore-leaning cheating. Gee, Mr. Baker, one could easily make the reverse argument: it's funny how the initial count was so Bush-heavy, and it's a good thing the recounts are correcting whatever mischievous measures the Bush campaign took to achieve that initial victory.

It all depends on who you believe is more likely to cheat.

I take back what I said a few days ago; I didn't vote for Gore. I voted for not-Bush. There's very very little about Gore that I actually like; my vote was not an affirmation of his positions. I voted for the most effective option I had available to me which would prevent a Bush win.

Similarly, I don't think that many people were looking at George W. Bush and saying, "This guy really ought to be president!" I think they were voting for not-Gore and (especially) not-Clinton, not for Bush himself.

So I think the nation has spoken and we've made ourselves crystal clear: we are evenly split on just how much we don't want either of these bozos. It's a shame there's no national 'none of the above' option, then we could really vote our conscience.

The sad part is, if Gore concedes early enough, he'll win by losing: he'll be the front-runner for 2004 based on the strength of his winning the popular vote and (I bet) win handily against a poor Bush presidential record. Given that I didn't really want him either, that's not exactly an optimal outcome. Let's have some new presidential candidates, eh? I think a bipartisan Kerrey-McCain ticket would be compelling, myself.

New Bush campaign slogan: "They trust the people. We trust machines!"
-- Has Bush Blown It in Florida? by Mickey Kaus

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