Re: The Recent Election

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Tue Feb 27 2001 - 00:50:26 MST

At 6:04pm -0600 2/26/01, Chris Russo wrote:
>At 16:44 -0500 2/26/01, Harvey Newstrom wrote:
>>At 12:03pm -0600 2/26/01, Chris Russo wrote:
>>You have to read these recount reports carefully. This is not the
>>Miami-Dade county recount results. This particular article only
>>looked at the 10,644 ballots that were undervoted in Miami-Dada
>>country. They wanted to find out if the specific disruption caused
>>by GOP staff members flying to Miami to start a riot could have had
>>an effect on the election.
>C'mon, Harvey, is that a fair characterization? Jesse Jackson and
>Rep Wexler(D) were the first ones in the news down there that I saw.
>It seemed that Jesse Jackson was with protesters on the street of
>Palm Beach County before James Baker even arrived in Florida.

No it is not a fair characterization. This was the Liberal viewpoint
of what happened. I was not endorsing the Liberal viewpoint. I was
merely reporting what the motivations for this recount was. This
recount was not intended to show the total vote of Miami-Dade. It
was limited just to those votes that were almost counted, but then
were blocked by Republican actions. The purpose of this count was an
attempt to show that the Republicans disrupted the election. The
results did not pan out as expected, but the motive is as biased and
unfair as I reported. The unfair characterization is actually the
true reason this subset of the recount was performed.

The rest of your analysis, which I snipped for space, is absolutely
correct. I gave the Democrat-biased viewpoint as being the motive
for the media-sponsored recount. You gave the Republican-biased
viewpoint as to why they organized their protest. I agree 100% with
your interpretation for the Republican viewpoint. As usual, I
believe both sides really believed in their viewpoint, and both
motives really were root causes for this clash as it occurrred.

>I could be equally one-sided and say, "They wanted to find out if
>the specific disruption caused by Democrat staff members flying to
>Miami to convince their operatives to change the rules - after the
>vote took place - had an effect on the election."

You could say that, and it would be accurate from one side's
viewpoint. Howeer, it wouldn't explain the media's purpose for the
article, which is what I was explaining. The media was not really
trying to prove that the democrats screwed up. I really think that
they were suprised at the result of this particular recount.

>Well, the article also factored in the results of the recounts in
>other counties that Gore's team had requested. This particular
>"subset" is the subset of what would have happened if Gore had
>gotten everything he asked for. Following the rules of the election
>plus some rule bending just for Gore, Bush still won. It's a rather
>significant view of the data to be rhetorically denigrated as just a

On an unrelated point, I think it is unimportant to figure out what
subset would have been counted by Gore's request or Bush's requests.
I think the important number is really the total number of people who
voted for each candidate. Any subset of recounts or counties or
requests is really irrelevant to the purpose of the election. Who
did the majority of the people really vote for? (Again, this is an
unrelated point and does not dispute your valid point.)

>Oh, we'll never know a precise count. Even if we count all the
>votes in all the counties, what do we do about the 1,200 felony
>votes that are in there? What do we do about all of the multiple

This is a real concern. There are so many random factors and
problems with our election system that there never will be a clear
answer as to who won. I think the loss of faith in the system
(deservedly so!) is the real victim here. There were so many ways
that various votes were wrong, that the margin of error just cannot
pick a president within a 5% error rate.

>The whole thing was a big nasty mess, and the actual count has been
>one-way hashed. We'll never find out what would have happened if
>the voting system had been perfectly fair.
>Arguing that we'll ever have anything *but* "guesses" is nothing but
>an exercise in baseless speculation where everyone will see what
>they want to see. As usual, history will depend upon who writes the
>history books. The facts are gone forever.

I agree with this, mostly. However, I do think that recording the
actual ballots is possible. We can record how many people got turned
away, how many felons voted, how many votes counted, how many votes
didn't count, how many votes were dimpled/hanging/etc., and we will
get a complete catalog of what happened. Even with a clear picture
of what happened, we won't have a good scheme to decide who should be
president based on what happened. What do you do if a voter is
unfairy turned away? What do you do if a vote is technally illegal
but still discernable? What do you do if a vote is 60%-40% estimated
to go one way? What do you do if there isn't enough time to count
the votes?

The real problem is not determining what happened. I think a huge
mass of records will be generated to documnt what happened with each
and every ballot. The real question is how to interpret these
happenings and how to apply them to the election process. It appears
that reality does not present us with clear votes. We don't have a
fuzzy-logic system for voting, so nobody knows what to do.

Harvey Newstrom <>

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