mm248: Political Potpourri

January 9, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

We are all of us under bombardment. If it’s not politics, it’s electronics (the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week).

What’s an overstressed blogger to do? How to choose?

It’s 2008 — politics wins. Actually, it’s been 2008 politically since November, 2006.

From the veritable cascade of information flowing out of the results of the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, as well as germane political news of a more general nature, we’ve put together another in a series we at Left-Handed Complement like to call:

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As this is our second effort in the past 16 hours or so, we will restrict ourselves to more cursory commentary. These are three stories that faithful reader should read for understanding.

There will be a test!

The New Hampshire results, especially Hillary Clinton’s surprise narrow victory over the sweetheart of Iowa, Barack Obama (a five-day honeymoon — that’s Britney Spears class!), most embarrassed the people who conducted the polls that had everyone, especially Obama’s team, believing in his invincibility.



They Were Misinformed

By Tobin Harshaw | January 9, 2008,  9:33 am

Well, it was a shocking defeat for this group, and today they’re going to have to take a long hard look at what went wrong. No, I don’t mean Team Obama — that crowd can move ahead — I mean the pollsters who were so certain that the Clinton campaign was D.O.A.

We’ll start, as usual, with Mark Blumenthal at, who dissects the final poll by CNN and the University of New Hampshire:

The discrepancy between the last UNH poll and the result seems concentrated in a few key subgroups. I will post the exact numbers tomorrow once the we get a final exit poll tabulations, but virtually all of the difference seems to come from women and college educated voters. For the moment, when comparing the UNH poll to the exit poll, I see a net 17 point gain for Clinton among women compared to a 5 point gain among men, and a 13 point net gain among college educated voters compared to a one point net loss among those with no college degree.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

They Were Misinformed – The Opinionator – Opinion – New York Times Blog

Back to the drawing board, pollsters. And, it’s game on for this political season, as the long-held (okay, five-day-long-held) sureties dissipated in Hillary’s “comeback.”

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It’s the season, and we’ve been increasingly concerned about vote fraud, most specifically when it involves voting machines (lately here and here).

This past weekend, the NYTimes magazine ran an extended feature on voting machines, and the crises in confidence they’ve caused in many states.

We all know the story of Florida in 2000 (which was a paper based system, in a state that politically gives Myanmar some competition), but disturbing stories are told all over the country.


Can You Count on Voting Machines?

By CLIVE THOMPSON | Published: January 6, 2008

Jane Platten gestured, bleary-eyed, into the secure room filled with voting machines. It was 3 a.m. on Nov. 7, and she had been working for 22 hours straight. “I guess we’ve seen how technology can affect an election,” she said. The electronic voting machines in Cleveland were causing trouble again….

As the primaries start in New Hampshire this week and roll on through the next few months, the erratic behavior of voting technology will once again find itself under a microscope. In the last three election cycles, touch-screen machines have become one of the most mysterious and divisive elements in modern electoral politics. Introduced after the 2000 hanging-chad debacle, the machines were originally intended to add clarity to election results. But in hundreds of instances, the result has been precisely the opposite: they fail unpredictably, and in extremely strange ways; voters report that their choices “flip” from one candidate to another before their eyes; machines crash or begin to count backward; votes simply vanish. (In the 80-person town of Waldenburg, Ark., touch-screen machines tallied zero votes for one mayoral candidate in 2006 — even though he’s pretty sure he voted for himself.) Most famously, in the November 2006 Congressional election in Sarasota, Fla., touch-screen machines recorded an 18,000-person “undervote” for a race decided by fewer than 400 votes.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Voting Machines – Elections – Ballots – Politics – New York Times

We have a lot to worry about, people!

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Couldn’t resist this one.

A fellow WordPress blogger (there are only a couple of million of us) had the following unique take on two men in the news (and present always, or lately, in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©).

Always, Michael Bloomberg:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC for U.S. President 2008

mm024: Bloomberg?
mm038.1: Jews Sorta Like Bloomberg Even Though…
mm051: Bloomberg’s Money, Visibility…
mm054: Chicago Tribune news: An Idea for Bloomberg
mm058: What Kind of President would Michael Bloomberg?
mm064: How to take down plutocrat Michael Bloomberg…
mm066: Michael Bloomberg’s Knightly Ambitions
mm069: The Votes Are In for New York’s Mayor Mike
mm086: Bloomberg Takes School Plan… to Midwest
mm110: Grading Mayoral Control
mm117: The cure for the Electoral College is worse…
mm208: Overdue a Bloomberg post
mm238: Bloomberg’s candidacy — closer to real?

Lately, Barack Obama (see above, and here, for example).

Why not put them together? asks this distinguished political expert, blogger Jon Taplin.



January 7, 2008 · 7 Comments

Obama- Bloomberg

With Drudge predicting Hillary’s exit and Barack Obama increasingly building excitement towards locking up the nomination on Feb. 5, I’m thinking about the role Mike Bloomberg could play as Obama’s running mate. The Republican battle could last all the way until a brokered convention in August. Romney has too much money to retire easily, McCain could take New Hampshire, Huckabee wins South Carolina, Rudy wins Florida and the Feb 5 races could be split with no clear winner. That leaves Barack with time to consolidate the Democratic Party, raise money for the general and choose a running mate while the Republicans remain in a squabble, spending their limited resources on the primary.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Obama-Bloomberg? « Jon Taplin’s Blog

What a concept! It’s got legs, brains, $$$.

Would billionaire Mayor Mike settle for being anyone’s second banana?

Don’t you just love political season (except of course that it has apparently become the first true perpetual motion machine)?

And that’s L-HC’s first ever (that we can recall) Political Potpourri. Does anyone doubt that there’ll be more?

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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mm246: “Outright election fraud:” surely I jest – NOT!

January 7, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

We completed our last post this way:

And our increasing concerns about the dirtiest dirty tricks of all in American politics, outright election fraud, will become a great deal more compelling as Obama’s sizable contingent of young and minority voters find roadblocks to casting their ballots.

Not just MUDGE’s imagination, apparently. The barriers to enfranchisement will need to be surmounted another day.

But this morning, received confirmation that our concerns about vote count fraud are not tinfoil hat paranoia.

The felonious mischief possible with today’s electronic voting technology has been a festering ulcerous boil on U.S. democracy since the debacle of Florida’s presidential vote counting in 2000.

Do we need to give up electronic voting altogether? The states of California and Colorado seem to be about to do that.

Do we need to wring our hands in dismay? Not so fast.

Election expert William Poundstone, writing in today’s NYTimes, presents two scholars’ proposals for a uniquely simple, elegant, and statistically meaningful method to test the accuracy of vote counting, electronic or not.


A Paper Trail for Voting Machines

By William Poundstone | Published: January 7, 2008
Los Angeles
PARANOIA over electronic voting is the new American consensus. The Democrats who will vote in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday aren’t worried that Hillary Clinton will steal the election from Barack Obama or John Edwards, but a good chunk of them would probably confess to dark fears about a Republican plot in November, even if Karl Rove won’t be involved.

Last month, Colorado’s secretary of state, Mike Coffman, a Republican, decertified the state’s electronic voting machines, after the alarming finding that one model could be disabled with a magnet and others were scandalously inaccurate. He left voters to draw their own conclusions about what this meant for the state’s most recent elections. The California secretary of state, Debra Bowen, a Democrat, took office last year after running on a don’t-trust-electronic-voting platform, and in August she pulled the plug on the state’s voting machines.

But what other options are there? Paper ballots aren’t perfect. Ballot boxes can be stuffed or lost. Indeed, because of Florida’s paper-ballot mess in 2000, electronic voting is probably here to stay,

Fortunately, there is an elegant solution that lets us use modern technology while assuaging the growing fears about voter fraud. Ronald L. Rivest, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist, and Warren D. Smith, a mathematician and voting reform advocate, have proposed an ingenious method that would combine paper ballots and a Web site to achieve greater ballot security than is possible with paper or software alone.

Rivest and Smith’s method is disconcertingly simple: give as a receipt to each voter a newly chosen random copy of a cast ballot. Then, post the serial numbers and votes of each ballot cast on a special website.

This way, a concerned citizen could confirm on line that the vote for which he has a receipt (not his own that’s apparently a recipe for another kind of fraud) but a randomly printed one, has been correctly recorded.

Take a look at the details.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

A Paper Trail for Voting Machines – New York Times

Seems like a lot of (complicated, but admittedly low tech) bother, but I’m impressed that this proposal actually only requires a few busy-bodies to assure accuracy.

For instance, to have 95 percent assurance of detecting a fraud involving 6 percent of ballots, only 50 voters would have to check, and this is true no matter how large the electorate. If the margin of victory is less than 6 percent, then more people would surely check.

Ain’t statistics grand?

Let’s do this, people, so that our votes aren’t stolen from us yet again.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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