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dalepetrie's avatar

What can you tell me about voting systems in various states?

Asked by dalepetrie (18024points) October 15th, 2008

If all the votes are counted correctly, Obama will win, barring some unforseen event that destroys his chances in the next 20 days. But what is plausible is that if McCain gets his groove back, he could tighten the race to the point where he keeps all the states leaning to him currently, he gets the true tossup states, and he tightens up the playing field in what is essentially 7 swing states (Colorado, Virginia, Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina). But basically, when you look at that map, before those 7 states are included, Obama has 264 EVs in the bag to McCain’s 174, and the smallest of those 7 states (Nevada) has 5 EVs, which would bring Obama to 269, which in a tie, Obama would likely win because of a Democratic Senate which would break the tie. So, even if McCain miraculously tightens the race and takes all the other states where Obama could plausibly win at this point off the table, which looking at polling and expected turnout numbers are West Virginia, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisina and Mississippi, we’re still looking at a situation where there are 7 states in play and McCain must win them all to win.

So my question is, what do you know about vulnerabilities in any of these 7 states that would make them plausible targets for election fraud? Because on average, Obama has a lead that is no more than 4 points in any one of these states, and that’s generally within the margin of error. So even when combined with an exit poll showing Obama won a state by 4 points, it’s within the margin of error. Now it might seem like a big coincidence for 7 states to overpoll for Obama, but one thing Republicans have been ramping up lately is the Rhetoric about the Bradley Effect. It doesn’t exist anymore, but people are being conditioned to believe that the polls are “probably” overinflating Obama’s actual support and that the final race will be much closer…that way they won’t suspect anything if the election goes to McCain. People don’t realize by and large that Obama is poised to win in a LANDSLIDE, and they’re reluctant to believe that, they’ve lost too many races that they SHOULD have won. This and of course, they’re pushing one other big lie, that ACORN is committing voter fraud, which means that right now, Republicans already have lawyers in each of these swing states ready to file lawsuits and injunctions and seek recounts. So if they DID want to cheat, it seems like they COULD get away with it, but that would require that all 7 of these states have systems that would make it possible for them to rig the vote by about 4%. It seems to me that in Ohio alone, now they have a Democratic Governor and a Democratic Secretary of State, and that they’ve fixed many of these vulnerabilities (for example I’ve heard that in Ohio the electronic voting machines now have paper backups).

So anything you can tell me to either make me feel better (like I live in state x and I know all ballots are filled in by hand and counted by hand) or to scare me out of my wits here (like I live in state y and I know that 92% of all votes will be cast on machines with no paper verification)?

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7 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Wishing I had something to give dale on this, because he went to so much effort to ask it!

Lightlyseared's avatar

Well I just watched Recount (HBO made for TV movie with Kevin Spacey about the Florida 2000 election) and if you go by that, the first assumption that all the votes will be counted (correctly or otherwise) seems to be a bit shakey.

If you haven’t seen Recount I’d recomend it.

marinelife's avatar

Well, here in Florida, I am not sanguine about the voting process. Here are some of the reasons:

1. Letters were just sent out “by mistake” to to more than a thousand voters right here in my own Orange County saying they had not registered in time and could not vote. The problem was the letters were sent by mistake, and the voters were properly registered.

2. The current Secretary of State channeling Katherine Harris has taken very aggressive measures to enforce the state’s new exact match law, which had been being fought through the courts for the last eight years. It is estimated that this may very well disenfranchise poor and minority voters.

3. Then there is the story of how 18,000 votes disappeared (voting machine problems) in the Congressional race to replace Katherine Harris (what, her again?) in Congress in 2006 causing a disputed outcome that, oh yes, just happened to be resolved in favor of the Republican.

So, my great fear is that in Florida in the 2008 election, it will be election funny business as usual.

jvgr's avatar

From all I hear, the chances of a totally clean election process is highly unlikely.

So many reports of fraudulent voters on the rolls and legitimate voters being dropped and then there are the voters who are not frauds, but there is a discrepancy in their registered data (usually address) and their current data.

Is Katherine Harris a congressperson? yikes

marinelife's avatar

@jvgr Not any more. She was so wacky in the primary for her re-election race that her own party mounted another candidate. She lost in the primary.

dalepetrie's avatar

I don’t expect a completely clean election process, I just wonder if there’s any point in worrying about it being so dishonest in so many places to reverse what would seem to be an insurmountable advantage.

girlofscience's avatar

@Lightlyseared: Recount was incredible. Watching it was really, really emotional for me, though. I don’t think I’d ever been so simultaneously angry and depressed.

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