Election Special 3
From an email list I subscribe to, a sentiment I hear repeatedly now:
I have had both Democrat and Republican friends tell me this week they hope the other guy wins the presidency. They said they figure the economy will sour and they want to be able to blame it on the other party. They are absolutely serious.
The provenance of this next item, usually attributed to a Zimbabwe newspaper, is dubious, but it is still thought provoking. I have eliminated a couple of the items because they were over the top.
1. Imagine that we read of an election occurring anywhere in the third world in which the self-declared winner was the son of the former prime minister and that former prime minister was himself the former head of that nation's secret police (CIA).
2. Imagine that the self-declared winner lost the popular vote but won based on some old colonial holdover (Electoral College) from the nation's pre-democracy past.
3. Imagine that the self-declared winner's 'victory' turned on disputed votes cast in a province governed by his brother!
4. Imagine that the poorly drafted ballots of one district, a district heavily favoring the self-declared winner's opponent, led thousands of voters to vote for the wrong candidate.
5. Imagine that members of that nation's most despised caste, fearing for their lives/livelihoods, turned out in record numbers to vote in near-universal opposition to the self-declared winner's candidacy.
7. Imagine that six million people voted in the disputed province and that the self-declared winner's 'lead' was only 327 votes. Fewer, certainly, than the vote counting machines' margin of error.
8. Imagine that the self-declared winner and his political party opposed a more careful by-hand inspection and re-counting of the ballots in the disputed province or in its most hotly disputed district.
None of us would deem such an election to be representative of anything other than the self-declared winner's will-to-power. All of us, I imagine, would wearily turn the page thinking that it was another sad tale of pitiful pre- or anti-democracy peoples in some strange elsewhere.
This made my blood boil when a friend of mine sent it to me.
GOP Protest in Miami-Dade
MIAMI -- When outraged Republicans raised a ruckus outside the Miami-Dade County elections office last week, some protesters at the door weren't local citizens. They were Capitol Hill aides on all-expenses paid trips, courtesy of the Bush campaign.
Right up front on television images of the event last Wednesday were Thomas Pyle, an aide to GOP Rep. Tom DeLay, and Michael Murphy, who works for a DeLay fund-raising committee. Doug Heye from California Rep. Richard Pombo's office also was in the fray.
Shortly after the door-kicking, window-banging protest, the Miami-Dade canvassing board made a sharp U-turn, suspending a recount that was expected to help Vice President Al Gore chip away at Texas Gov. George W. Bush's lead.
I can't give you a URL, because to read the WSJ online requires a subscription, which I don't have. But since the WSJ isn't exactly a bleeding-heart liberal organization, and since these people have been identified by name, I think we can accept this as true.
In three separate e-mail messages, Joe Brancatelli makes a lot of sense:
I dunno, Paul, I see this whole matter much more simply: the election in Florida, with about 6 million votes cast, is within the logical margin of error of our ability to count votes. A 930-vote margin is hardly a mandate--or even proof that one candidate won. Whether by hand or by machine, a 930-vote margin is simply not proof of anything. I have no problem with EITHER side trying to coax any legitimate extra votes out of the system. If someone meant to vote for someone--and we can reasonably determine whom that person meant to vote for--we should count it.
I voted for Gore, but I don't want Gore to be president if he lost Florida. I don't want Gore to be president based on stolen votes. On the other hand, I don't want Bush to win if it can be determined that he wasn't the choice of Floridians, the last state to weigh in.
This isn't rocket science, unfortunately. And, as far as the American people can say--with Gore having just a 250,000-vote popular lead--either guy will do. Flip a freakin' coin if it comes to it.
And one other thing: I wish someone would put a tank in the streets. A radio station doing a promotion. Something. Just so we wouldn't have the talking heads saying, "Well, there's no crisis. There are no tanks in the street."
Geez, SOMEONE get a tank on the street, just so they stop saying that!
Last thought, from the silver lining department: This whole controversy has saved us for a couple of weeks from those inevitable thumb-sucker stories about how the 2004 Presidential race might shape up!
I just keep coming back to this: six million votes were cast. A one-hundredth of a percent margin of error is 600 votes. We're talking about a victory of 500 votes.
No one in their right mind thinks we can could votes accurately within a margin of one-hundredth of a percent. If Gore has a 600-vote lead, I don't believe it either. So we have a tie.
Since any suggestion I can come up with would have pre-determined outcomes (i.e., splitting the electoral vote means Gore, going to the Fla. Legislature means Bush, etc.), I have no idea except for flipping a coin.
I'm serious. A coin flip would be fairer than either side trying to make the public believe we can count votes to a specificity of .001 percent and choose a "real" winner.
The way the Electoral College distributes electors--one elector for each US senator and representative in Congress--offers this disparity: Wyoming, with 480,000 people, earns 3 electors, or one for each 160,000 citizens. California, with 32 million people, earns 54 electors, or one for each 603,000 citizen. In other words, a vote in Wyoming is, technically, almost four times more potent than a vote in California.
Now, before we rush to go to direct popular elections, consider this fact. As of yesterday, Gore led in the popular vote by 328,696. That's a margin of .3 percent of the total. If a nationwide popular-vote system adopted the Florida "automatic recount" statute--any vote decided by less than .5 percent of the vote is recounted by law--we'd be recounting the ENTIRE nation.
Electoral Web Sites of the Week
You probably saw the article in the paper; here's the underlying research, as it appeared on the website of the magazine Nature:
The infamous 'butterfly'-style ballot card used by Palm Beach County, Florida, in the recent US presidential election causes voting errors to be made and raises doubt over the final result. That's not the conclusion of a Democrat-led inquiry, but the finding of psychologists who have examined the controversial ballot paper in new experimental trials.
Herewith, a collection of electoral humor from a variety of sources:
Palm Beach Pokey
From here to the bottom of the column, brought to you by the AutoJoker Daily! <Mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>, via Phil Gill and Maureen O'Gara:
A small boy was asked by his teacher, "What is the size of the Democratic Party?" "About 5 feet 2 inches," he replied promptly. "NO!" exploded the teacher. "I mean, how MANY members does it have? How did you get 5 feet 2 inches?" "Well," replied the boy, "my father is 6 feet tall and every night he puts his hands to his chin and says, ' I've had it up to HERE with the Democratic Party!' "
Just wanted everyone to know that I just conducted a (currently unofficial) election hand count myself. Six out of ten digits voted for Bush. Two for Gore. (I'll let you guess which ones) One absentee ballot is still unaccounted for. The hitch is that one thumb demands a recount due to a mistake made. Certified results will be released as soon as a lawsuit submitted by my toes has been settled over not being counted in the election, stating voter fraud by the head party. --Thomas Fisher
NOTICE OF REVOCATION OF INDEPENDENCE
To the citizens of the United States of America,
In the light of your failure to elect a President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.
Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new prime minister (The rt. hon. Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.
To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:
1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium". Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up "vocabulary". Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up "interspersed".
2. There is no such thing as "US English". We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.
3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard.
4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys.
5. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.
6. You should stop playing American "football". There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American "football" is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays "American" football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US rugby sevens side by 2005.
7. You should declare war on Quebec and France, using nuclear weapons if they give you any merde. The 98.85% of you who were not aware that there is a world outside your borders should count yourselves lucky. The Russians have never been the bad guys. "Merde" is French for "shit".
8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 8th will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called "Indecisive Day".
9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.
10. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Network television is developing a "Texas Version" of "Survivor", the popular TV show ... Contestants must travel from Amarillo through Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and back to Amarillo, through San Marcos, Austin, and Lubbock ... driving a Volvo with a bumper sticker that reads: "I'm for Gore, I'm Gay and I'm Here to Take Your Guns".
NEW GOLF RULES
A proposed revision to the rules of golf is being sought in South Florida which will replace the traditional call of "FORE".
Once a player has hit an errant shot he will be allowed to call "GORE" while the ball is still in flight. He can then replace the ball in the same spot and hit it again.
The player can do this until he is satisfied the ball is going where he intended to hit it in the first place. This will cause the time of play to be extended until such time the player can claim the hole.
This revision is causing some consternation to the PGA but proponents say it is only fair.
A recent test of this new rule was recently played out in an exclusive club in Palm Beach County Florida and the first hole only took 19 days to complete.
DOCTOR SEUSS GOES TO FLORIDA
Can we count them with our nose? Can we count them with our toes? Should we count them with a band? Should we count them all by hand?
If I do not like the count, I will simply throw them out!
I will not let this vote count stand I do not like them, AL GORE I am!
Can we change these numbers here? Can we change them, calm my fears? What do you mean, Dubya has won? This is not fair, this is not fun Let's count them upside down this time Let's count until the state is mine!
I will not let this VOTE count stand! I do not like it, AL GORE I am!
I'm really ticked, I' m in a snit! You have not heard the last of it! I'll count the ballots one by one And hold each one up to the sun! I'll count, recount, and count some more! You'll grow to hate this little chore
But I will not, cannot let this vote count stand! I do not like it, Al Gore I am!
I won't leave office, I'm stayin' here! I've glued my desk chair to my rear! Tipper, Hillary, and Bubba too, all telling me that I should sue! We find the Electoral College vile! RECOUNT the votes until I smile!
We do not want this vote to stand! We do not like it, AL GORE I am!
How shall we count this ballot box? Let's count it standing in our socks! Shall we count this one in a tree? And who shall count it, you or me? We cannot, cannot count enough! We must not stop, we must be tough!
I do not want this vote to stand! I do not like it AL GORE I am!
I've counted till my fingers bleed! And still can't fulfill my counting need! I'll count the tiles on the floor! I'll count, and count, and count some more! And I will not say that I am done! Until the counting says I've won!
I will not let this vote count stand! I do not like it, AL GORE I am!
What's that? What? What are you trying to say? You think the current count should stay? You do not like my counting scheme? It makes you tense, gives you bad dreams? Foolish people, you're wrong you'll see! Your only care should be for me!
I WILL NOT LET THIS VOTE COUNT STAND! I DO NOT LIKE IT. AND AL GORE I AM!
NEW SLOGANS FOR FLORIDA:
FLORIDA: If you think we can't vote, wait till you see us drive.
FLORIDA: Home of electile dysfunction.
FLORIDA: We count more than you do.
FLORIDA: If you don't like the way we count then take I-95 and visit one of the other 56 states.
FLORIDA: We've been Gored by the bull of politics and we're Bushed.
FLORIDA: Relax, Retire, ReVote.
FLORIDA: Viagra voters do it again!
FLORIDA: What comes after 17,311?
FLORIDA: Where your vote counts and counts and counts.
FLORIDA: This is what you get for taking Elian away from us.
FLORIDA: We don't just cheat in football.
FLORIDA: We're number one! Wait! Recount! Palm Beach County: So nice, we let you vote twice.
Palm Beach County: We put the "duh" in Florida.
Sign on I-95 : Florida this way, no that way, 5 miles, wait, 10 miles...
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