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Statistical Tools For Detecting Electoral Fraud

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the chechens-for-putin dept.

Stats 215

RockDoctor writes "A recent paper published in PNAS describes statistical techniques for clearly displaying the presence of two types of electoral fraud (PDF) — 'incremental fraud' (stuffing of ballot boxes containing genuine votes with ballots for the winning party) and 'extreme fraud' (reporting completely contrived numbers, typically 100% turnout for a vote-counting region, with 100% voting for the winning party). While the techniques would require skill with statistical software to apply in real time, the graphs produced in the paper provide tools for the interested non-statistician to monitor an election 'live.' Examples are discussed with both 'normal' elections, fraud by the techniques mentioned, and cases of genuine voter inhomogeneity. Other types of fraud, such as gerrymandering and inhibiting the registration of minority voters, are not considered."

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Well (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520081)

We can't have that. Who do we call to get this outlawed?

Impossible (1, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 years ago | (#41520087)

Without tracking who voted for whom, it is impossible to detect any kind of voter fraud (besides more people voting than are eligible) with 100% certainty.

Vote fraudsters would simply rig the vote to some degree under the level of certainty that the statisticians use to watch for fraud.

Re:Impossible (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520125)

Your post is proof that you did not even look at the first figure from TFA. The irregularities are very clear in all of the figures.

Re:Impossible (3, Insightful)

pod (1103) | about 2 years ago | (#41521197)

Didn't even read TFSummary.

Statistics isn't about being 100%. That's the whole point of trends and probabilities. If there's around 65% voter turnout in an area, within a certain deviation, and one polling station has an 80% voter turnout, that's an anomaly. Usually anything more than 2 standard deviations out is an anomaly, statistically speaking. Nothing implies this is 100% election fraud, or even election fraud at all. It just means something different is happening there.

Re:Impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520127)

Said the person ignorant about the law of large numbers and statistical analysis.

Re:Impossible (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#41521257)

No, you replied to him.

The OP is absolutely correct. Statistics only works if you have an unbiased sample. If you're up against smart fraudsters they'll cook the numbers to satisfy these statistical tests. Fortunately, most election riggers don't really care if people suspect they rigged the election.

Re:Impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520197)

Not really. How about "missing machines" for starters. FL had a few go missing when Bush "won", only for them to turn up a few months later with a "these things happen" from the mayor.

Re:Impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520373)

Gore lost. Get over it.

Re:Impossible (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520403)

Yeah, Gore lost to a coup by the SCOTUS.

Re:Impossible (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521785)

There is Therapy available for you ya know.

Re:Impossible (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#41520831)

So what? A technique doesn't have to be 100% accurate to be useful. Which is fortunate, because few techniques are.

Re:Impossible (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41520961)

So what? A technique doesn't have to be 100% accurate to be useful. Which is fortunate, because few techniques are.

How is this useful?

Interesting perhaps, but not useful. The party that WON using any detectible vote fraud will not let you change anything, certainly not the outcome and probably not even vote methodology, or credential checking in future elections. In fact they probably won't give you access to voting detail numbers at all once it becomes common knowledge that such analysis is possible.

Re:Impossible (1)

headwick (247433) | about 2 years ago | (#41521603)

If they use closed source black box voting machines, then we know the data they provide is completely trustworthy. How could it be anything else?

Frad Detection Algorythm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521819)

If Precinct is Democrat majority and election judges are Democrats Chance of fraud is very high.

If anywhere near Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia... Hell, anywhere on the eastern seaboard, Fraud is certain.

If people are lined up out the door way past the closing time, they just had a long way to drive from all the other places they voted. Chance of Fraud, 100%.

Re:Frad Detection Algorythm (1, Troll)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41521909)

So basically, if it's like a typical Florida election but Democrats win, it's fraud?

Re:Impossible (1, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#41522003)

If it keeps Jimmy Carter from ever saying again how great Venezuela's election system is, then it will be worth it.

Re:Impossible (2)

metacell (523607) | about 2 years ago | (#41522129)

Interesting perhaps, but not useful. The party that WON using any detectible vote fraud will not let you change anything, certainly not the outcome and probably not even vote methodology, or credential checking in future elections. In fact they probably won't give you access to voting detail numbers at all once it becomes common knowledge that such analysis is possible.

Just because a party won by fraud, it doesn't mean they become dictators for life and can block every attempt to fix the system. Sooner or later another party will win, and the cheating party can't make their manipulations too obvious.

Re:Impossible (1)

Technician (215283) | about 2 years ago | (#41521765)

Signs of this are races that turn out to be very close within 1/2 percent as they stuff just enough to tip the result. Seen an excess of extreme close races lately? The probability of a high percentage of very close races is slim. Seeing many very close races under 1% spread is a statistical indication of rigged elections.

Re:Impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41522083)

Without tracking who voted for whom, it is impossible to detect any kind of voter fraud (besides more people voting than are eligible) with 100% certainty.

Vote fraudsters would simply rig the vote to some degree under the level of certainty that the statisticians use to watch for fraud.

Well, duh, it's a statistical method to detect fraud, so you can never be 100% certain.

If the fraudsters rig the vote to some degree under the level of certainty the statisticians use, it may not be enough to actually win the district.

Gerrymandering (2, Insightful)

prakslash (681585) | about 2 years ago | (#41520139)


Gerrymandering is not exactly fraud. Intentionally drawing lines to create voting districts in a way such that it favors one political party over another is perfectly legal (although obviously not desired). Gerrymandering can be used for good too such as creating voting districts consisting of mostly Blacks or other minorities so they can elect a (favored minority) representative and have a say in the political process.

Re:Gerrymandering (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520217)

Gerrymandering can be used for good too such as creating voting districts consisting of mostly Blacks or other minorities so they can elect a (favored minority) representative and have a say in the political process.

Why is this considered good? Do you believe that "Blacks and other minorities" can't succeed without help?

If I'm not mistaken, Barack Obama is a "black or other minority" and he won in a country not "consisting of mostly Blacks or other minorities".

Re:Gerrymandering (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#41520493)

If there is a minority (ethnic or otherwise) with interests differing from that of the majority, that minority may be underrepresented in representative systems. If the minority happens to be geographically localized, drawing electoral boundaries appropriately can restore them to a proportionate amount of political power.

The OP possibly could have chosen his words better, but I don't think he meant any harm.

Re:Gerrymandering (4, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#41520955)

The problem with that argument is that it is not-so-subtly segregationist - let the minority have their own small ghetto where they run things, but keep them out of our (much bigger) turf where we do as we want. SAR had a similar arrangement with bantustans during apartheid.

Thing is, if you have an ethnic minority with interests profoundly different from the majority, that's already the sign of a very fundamental flaw in that society, which is not going to be fixed by token gestures

Re:Gerrymandering (1, Insightful)

bgat (123664) | about 2 years ago | (#41521049)

The problem with that argument is that it is not-so-subtly segregationist - let the minority have their own small ghetto where they run things, but keep them out of our (much bigger) turf where we do as we want. SAR had a similar arrangement with bantustans during apartheid.

Thing is, if you have an ethnic minority with interests profoundly different from the majority, that's already the sign of a very fundamental flaw in that society, which is not going to be fixed by token gestures

Actually, that isn't how it turns out at all: there is no "ghetto" established, as the laws that the prevailing governing body passes will apply to the entire incorporated area (city, county, state, whatever). The key difference is that without the gerrymandering, there will be no voice in that governing body to represent the extreme minority's interests at all. So it's actually anti-segregationist, since it gives the minority a stronger voice than they would have otherwise.

Of course, that's if gerrymandering is done with the public's good in mind. More often, unfortunately, it's used just to strengthen a particular candidate's party. And that party's interests are more often solely the interests of the party itself, and not the citizens of the district the party claims to represent.

Re:Gerrymandering (4, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#41521101)

The minority should not need a voice to speak for them in the first place. They should be citizens just like any others, with same rights and needs as far as their interaction with the government goes. If they're not, that in itself is segregationalist - it's creating a division along ethnic (or other similarly decorative) lines where none should rationally exist. It only happens when either the government is deliberately discriminating against them (in which case a single representative is not going to do anything useful, and is little more than token gesture), or because that group of people is intentionally segregating themselves from the rest of society, excluding outsiders from their power structure - which is a bad thing and should not be encouraged.

Re:Gerrymandering (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521925)

The minority should not need a voice to speak for them in the first place. They should be citizens just like any others, with same rights and needs as far as their interaction with the government goes.

It's a nice thought, but we have a first-past-the-post electoral system where the majority's candidate wins everything, every time. If you're a minority with a different set of needs and wants, you will always lose out in that system.

Re:Gerrymandering (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#41521945)

Why would you need a different set of needs based solely on your ethnicity, though?

I'm not saying that people shouldn't disagree, and certainly proportional representation is far better than FPTP to reflect what the society actually needs. I just don't see why political differences have to go along ethnic lines - and especially why that should be promoted as natural.

Re:Gerrymandering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41522015)

Like it or not, ethnic lines are often community lines, thanks to numerous historical and cultural reasons. It might not matter in theory, but in practice it matters a hell of a lot. Poor representation in government turns these places into ghettoes; lousy schools, broken infrastructure, lack of services all contribute to drive businesses away and spirals the area into depression and crime. Often this is the result of seemingly nice politicians who would protest that they don't have a racist bone in their body, and that may be more or less true; it's just that these "ethnic" communities are not a priority, and so the money always gets spent somewhere else.

  This is all a symptom of the fundamental problem with all government, which is that it takes money and power away from people and gives it to other people who are foolishly expected to wield it on their behalf. I say foolishly, because people never learn any better, no matter how often it's been shown that even if they don't just ignore you and simply wield it on their own behalf, nobody can ever know what you need better than you yourself.

  The only way to make government more reasonable (if you're not going to dismantle the damned thing, which I'd be in favor of) is to bring it closer to the people it's supposed to serve. The fewer degrees of separation, the less "telephone game" there is between the people and their representatives, and more importantly, the less the personal interests of the politician will diverge from those of the people he is supposed to represent, giving corruption less surface area to grow on.

Re:Gerrymandering (2)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41521007)

If the minority happens to be geographically localized, drawing electoral boundaries appropriately can restore them to a proportionate amount of political power.

However, you must admit that is a pretty big IF.

In a mobile and free nation It is unlikely to be the case that they will localized.

And of course underlying your whole assumption is a disturbing assumption of racism.

Re:Gerrymandering (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41521927)

Assume all majority people vote party X and all minorities vote party Y, both voted in equal proportions and all districts consisted of 51% majority people, party X would win 100% of the districts. Rearranging districts might end up giving party Y a majority of districts.
Neither is good, as both misrepresent the votes. As long as a district system is used, votes are misrepresented as not all votes will be weighed equally.

Re:Gerrymandering (4, Insightful)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 2 years ago | (#41520311)

Gerrymandering can be used for good too such as creating voting districts consisting of mostly Blacks or other minorities so they can elect a (favored minority) representative

Whether or not this is ever "good" is debatable, to say the least.

I live in a so-called "majority-minority" district which was considered a lock for a minority candidate since its creation. The incumbent has done such a poor job that he came fairly close to losing the election in 2010. The response? They adjusted the lines to pull extra minorities into his district to ensure that would never happen again.

The message there was clear: your vote counts for nothing. The representative has already been chosen by those who set up the districts.

Re:Gerrymandering (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 2 years ago | (#41520369)

Gerrymandering is not exactly fraud.

Perhaps, [wikipedia.org] but TFA isn't really about gerrymandering, although it gets a brief mention in the introduction.

Re:Gerrymandering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520397)

> Gerrymandering is not exactly fraud.

Lamar Smith, District 21: http://lamarsmith.house.gov/district/interactivemap.htm

Re:Gerrymandering (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#41520433)

Let's be clear... it is, in fact, fraud. It is not, however, illegal. There are plenty of hateful and immoral things, especially when it comes to elections, that are not illegal. Gerrymandering is clearly one of them. If anything proves beyond a doubt that your vote doesn't really count for anything and our elections are rigged, it's Gerrymandering. It's also, ironically, the reason Ron Paul is losing his district.

Re:Gerrymandering (1)

GreyLurk (35139) | about 2 years ago | (#41520655)

I think that fraud has to include some element of secrecy. Gerrymandering is not secretive, it's practiced openly, and in full public view. The voting district lines are available to anyone who wanders in to your county offices.

Re:Gerrymandering (1)

jlechem (613317) | about 2 years ago | (#41522139)

I have to agree with this, here in Utah they re-drew the entire state's districts for the house and congress to skew even more Republic then we already do and to especially screw Jim Matheson. It made all the local news, papers, and even the local NPR but no one I knew hardly gave a shit.

Err? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520439)

Except you cannot Gerrymander on the basis of race. Quiet, you.

http://www.adversity.net/special/gerrymander.htm

Re:Gerrymandering (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520615)

Gerrymandering is not exactly fraud.

oh, ok, so rigging the outcome of elections is not fraud.

if you cared for minorities, you'd support proportional representation [wikipedia.org] , not gerrymandering.

Good vs Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520891)

Yes, but the outcome is certain when something can be used by politicians for either Good or Evil. It's statistically proven their choices will not be good.

Re:Gerrymandering (1)

metacell (523607) | about 2 years ago | (#41522155)

Gerrymandering can be used for good too such as creating voting districts consisting of mostly Blacks or other minorities so they can elect a (favored minority) representative and have a say in the political process.

You mean, so the blacks become "equal but separate"?

Damn simple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520263)

When the candidate that least respects individual sovereignty, private property and voluntary exchange wins, fraud is proven beyond any reasonable doubt. People who actually WORK for a living have fewer opportunities to engage in fraud because they are busy WORKING and not engaging in acts to further election fraud.

With apologies ahead of time... (2)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 2 years ago | (#41520355)

... dare I ask how one pronounces "PNAS"?

Re:With apologies ahead of time... (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#41520505)

Pee NAZ, usually. Not Pee NIS, as you're evidently thinking. Not that A and I ever sound remotely like each other.

Re:With apologies ahead of time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521051)

Pee NASS - it's an S, not a Z.

Re:With apologies ahead of time... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#41521283)

I've never heard anyone pronounce it with an s (like sibilant). It's always with a z (like zip). I suppose some people might do so though.

Re:With apologies ahead of time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520673)

It's pronounced "Papers Not Accepted by Science".

Re:With apologies ahead of time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520689)

Polytime nondeterministic approximation scheme.

Re:With apologies ahead of time... (1)

steveaustin1971 (1094329) | about 2 years ago | (#41521477)

Exactly how your thinking but with a slightly posh London accent.

Re:With apologies ahead of time... (1)

onemorechip (816444) | about 2 years ago | (#41521913)

Exactly how your thinking but with a slightly posh London accent.

What, to give it panache?

Real fraud (0, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41520381)

Of-course the real fraud is in making people believe that the fact that they are voting in a democratic elections means that they are preventing a 'bad' outcome and are getting a 'good' outcome instead.

The reality of-course is that in order for democracy to avoid a descend into totalitarianism the individuals have to work hard, they have to be educated, they have to be knowledgeable of facts, they have to be learned of ideas, they have to be independent thinkers.

Unfortunately the democracy boils down to the lowest common denominator, most people are ignorant [youtube.com] of facts [youtube.com] , ideas, they are victims of propaganda [youtube.com] of various types.

This type of democracy, which is really mobocracy, inevitably leads to some form of collectivism. Be it socialism or its next logical step - fascism.

It's a logical step, once the socialists realise that they cannot really apply their ideology for international socialism and thus fascism or corporatism takes place, which is enforced by the nationalist ideas - nazism. Idealistic socialists cannot admit to themselves what their real methods have to be in order to achieve their collectivist goals of central planning, thus they get brushed aside and something much more terrible than them comes alone. From Stalinism to Hitlerism and Maoism, all of these 'isms' have something in common - they hate individualism, capitalism, humanism. They promote the ideas of 'higher good', 'social justice', 'common welfare'. Of-course these must come at the expense of individualism, capitalism, real humanism, real ethics, real morals and be substituted by the fake morals of central authority, for who the ends justify the means, after all, it's "for the common good".

So AFAIC the real fraud is the belief that the democratic system in itself is a meaningful system of establishing 'fairness' or 'higher morality' or whatever you believe is actually achieved by democracy. Democracy is a tool and in the system that denies the rule of law above the government and instead promotes principles of 'fairness' that do not necessarily come out of just rules but are decided on case by case model, then this tool is subverted to serve the ideas of centrally planned, nationalistic, discriminatory, anti-individualistic, anti-human and absolutely anti-capitalist power structure.

Re:Real fraud (2)

digsbo (1292334) | about 2 years ago | (#41520473)

You importantly raised the issue of abandoning the rule of law, which has been happening here in the USA with alarming regularity (a purist would say Lincoln was the worst first example, though you could find more before him). I wish I knew the name of it but there was a wonderful 10 minute video that explained the difference between a republic (and its literal translation as the public thing, meaning the rule of law) and how democratic republics are at risk of becoming lawless mob ruled states, as you describe.

Re:Real fraud (-1, Troll)

hondo77 (324058) | about 2 years ago | (#41520575)

(an idiot would say Lincoln was the worst first example, though you could find more before him).

FTFY.

Re:Real fraud (2)

digsbo (1292334) | about 2 years ago | (#41520777)

Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, among other actions, which were in violation of the Constution, and illegal. Therefore, my statement is factually sound. I did not make a value judgment, just a statement of fact - many purists do indeed cite Lincoln as one of the first presidents to grossly violate the rule of law. A better question would have been, "Why?", which is what I've tried to answer here. Your attitude is really uncalled for, unconstructive, and ignorant.

Re:Real fraud (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 years ago | (#41520863)

You are aware, I hope, that The Suspension Clause [wikipedia.org] allows for habeas corpus to be suspended "...when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

Re:Real fraud (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 2 years ago | (#41520911)

The use of it to imprison Copperhead Democrats, who were publicly protesting the war, and not otherwise a threat, except to Lincoln politically, pretty fairly casts doubt, at least, on the legality of his use of it in that case. Habeas Corpus cannot seriously be expected to be legally suspended to violate first amendment rights. What do you think?

Re:Real fraud (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 years ago | (#41521113)

I'm not saying that all of his actions were properly justified, just that his suspension of habeas corpus wasn't completely (or even mostly) unconstitutional.

Re:Real fraud (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 2 years ago | (#41521143)

Arguments abound for both views. At least one SCOTUS member disagreed with you. Given the obvious unethical nature, and the tenuous claim to legality, I'll stand by my assertion that purists believe Lincoln acted illegally. I doubt many people could convincingly argue that Bush II or Obama have not acted illegally. http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/vance4.html [lewrockwell.com]

Re:Real fraud (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 2 years ago | (#41521159)

Damn I wish I could edit. Meant to emphasize that the language around suspension clearly indicates only in case of rebellion and public safety. I can't buy for a minute that free speech being exercised qualifies either of those legal standards, hence, it was illegal (the argument in the Vance essay notwithstanding, which I think is needlessly complex, but IANACL).

Re:Real fraud (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 years ago | (#41521633)

I'm certainly not going to argue that there wasn't any abuse, only that in at least some of the cases he was justified. And, to be honest, I don't know what percentage of the cases were questionable.

Re:Real fraud (2)

Artifakt (700173) | about 2 years ago | (#41522011)

The short form answer is "The Civil War", Lincoln can be considered justified by that view if you accept the argument that "The Constitution is not a suicide pact.", or his actions can be seen as going beyond what was actually necessary to prosecute the war. I've read good arguments either way.

The long answer won't fit here, and I'm not sure it exists. I've taught Root Causes of the Civil War in military OCS classes. I tend to favor an argument that Lincolns actions had more necessity behind them than is generally recognized, but I'd have to base this claim on an analogy with US use of nuclear weapons at the end of WW2, an area subject to similar debate. Reading what some highly placed persons in the Confederate government and the Imperial Japanese government of their respective times wrote makes me of the opinion that both situations were at least partially justified from a purely mathematical analysis of the stated goals, intentions and claims of these government officials, and if anything, Lincoln pushed it less far that Truman. I could also make the same point by comparing non-governmental writers who held positions we might call political pundits, journalists, and such in the two eras. No analogy is perfect, one derived like this is doubly suspect, and a detailed study of just how a single Confederate cabinet post in 1862 matches to Hirohito's closest equivalent advisor in 1942, for example, would probably be a year's research.

I doubt Lincoln's example is that relevant to the current actions of the US. The issue of a declared war with mostly clearly defined goals vrs. a situation where no one seems to have clear victory conditions in mind is one reason not to rely too much on any claim that the US government today is following Lincoln's example.

Re:Real fraud (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 2 years ago | (#41521015)

Don't forget John Adam's Sedition Act.

Re:Real fraud (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41521223)

I'm not sure about videos, but the Federalist Papers point specifically explain how the US Constitution prevents a mob from taking control.

The basic problem, though, is that one man's group of motivated citizens voting for what they think is best for the republic is another man's unruly uneducated mob. If you truly believe that the citizens are incapable of electing not-terrible leaders (or, for that matter, weighing evidence fairly when seated on a jury), then what you're really advocating is some form of dictatorship.

Re:Real fraud (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 2 years ago | (#41521415)

Or anarcho-capitalism, or minarchism, or libertarian socialism, or constitutional monarchy. There are many forms of government (or non-government, as my list belies). Heck, the Habsburgs* presided over a generally prosperous period as monarchs. And there's no inherent reason you can't have liberal policies under a monarch any more than under a democratically elected minister/parliament.

*The reason they fell was more due to external aggression than any internal problems. It is possible, for example, that had the Austro-Hungarians been victorious, that the world after WWI would have been better off. Impossible to prove, but fun to think about. I envision that world as being more steam-punk oriented, somehow.

Re:Real fraud (1)

cobraR478 (1416353) | about 2 years ago | (#41521717)

If you truly believe that the citizens are incapable of electing not-terrible leaders (or, for that matter, weighing evidence fairly when seated on a jury), then what you're really advocating is some form of dictatorship.

No, you are not. People are definitely free to make an argument for dictatorships if they so choose, but fearing some of the drawbacks of democracy doesn't require you to advocate a dictatorship. Polybius argued that all of the "basic" forms of government were flawed (rule by one, rule by few, rule by many), and that a government that consists of multiple bodies using all of the basic forms of government would be superior to one of the most basic government. The idea was that all of these different institutions would have their own powers and keep the other institutions in check. He also saw as an example of this (consuls, the senate, popular assemblies).

If you fast forward to the enlightenment, the somewhat related idea of "separation of powers" was developed. The idea here was (again) to have multiple institutions (typically along the lines of executive, legislative, and judicial branches) that each have their own set of powers, where in theory some of those powers are designed to keep the other branches in check. The United States is a pretty good example there (not too surprising as the concepts are related and the people who developed the US constitution mostly had classical educations and modeled the constitution on the Roman Republic to an extent).

The thought behind both of these concepts is that because there are multiple institutions all battling for power, the system won't degrade into a bad, abusive system as quickly as one of the pure forms. Like all forms of government, there are downsides. A big one (that we see in the US today) is gridlock. It can be difficult to get anything done, and that's partially by design (its more difficult to abuse one's power if its more difficult to use it), but there can be pretty serious consequences to that. For example, the budget disaster going on in the US right now.

and then there's this (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41520415)

Re:and then there's this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520871)

People we hired to fuck up voter registration fucked up voter registration?! Fraud! Fraud! Photo IDs for every voter!

Aside: Personally, I think the photo ID thing is a fine thing... but the entire concept of voter registration is royally fucked in the brain to start with. If you're not eligible to vote, your driver's license (or free photo ID, paid for with the savings from not dealing with registration bullshit) is marked "NON VOTER" in big letters. Otherwise, you present your photo ID at the voting booth in the precinct the address on your photo ID.

If you move, you request a new license/photo ID. If you don't bother, you may have a long drive back to your voting booth.

4 million Democrats without Govt ID (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521105)

There's 4 million people likely to vote Democrat that don't have the Government issued ID card in Pennsylvania alone, a capacity of 100,000 ID cards a month.

It's October, so you go figure whether they can get an ID card in time to cope with this law change!

Republicans 1% are scum for undermining democracy like that. How are Koch brothers any better than Putin's backers?

Re:4 million Democrats without Govt ID (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521177)

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/despite-voter-id-law-minority-turnout-up-in-georgi/nR2bx/

Funny how reality doesn't match up with your claims. Perhaps reality has a conservative bias? In addition the federal court in Atlanta hearing the voterID law asked for a SINGLE person that was unable to vote due to the law. The prosecutors were unable to produce a SINGLE person of the 800,000 they were claiming.

So keep your lies to yourself from now on.

Voter turnout in Georgia is not % (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521347)

Saying the voter % among minorities is up in Georgia is not the same as saying that Pennsylvania has implemented a voter ID law that requires a government issued voter ID that they don't have the capacity to issue.

Effectively a lot of voters will not be able to vote because they won't have that ID card, are not able to get it in time and NO SURPRISES, that demographic is largely Democrat, and the law was passed by Republicans.

I stand by my comment.
The Republicans 1% ARE scum for undermining democracy like that.

Re:4 million Democrats without Govt ID (2)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 2 years ago | (#41521805)

I'll see your "single person unable to vote" and raise you three more.

www.aclupa.blogspot.com/2012/07/voter-id-trial-day-4-real-people-real.html

Please read those stories about actual real Pennsylvania registered voters who are struggling with this law.

Re:and then there's this (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41521157)

Aside: Personally, I think the photo ID thing is a fine thing

I don't:
1. It's solving a problem that doesn't exist. The folks that have been pushing photo ID have been able to come up with approximately 10 cases of somebody pretending to be somebody else and casting a vote at the polls, having a significant impact on a grand total of 0 elections. If you want to cast fraudulent ballots, it's far easier to do so using absentee ballots.

2. If you require would-be voters to pay for their IDs, then this is a poll tax, which was ruled unconstitutional decades ago. If you don't, then this is an unnecessary (see point 1) expense, both for the government budget (and ultimately the people who pay taxes) and for the individuals who have to go get a free photo ID (which is only free if you don't count the transportation to the place to get it and the time to wait for it).

3. The party that pushed through these bills stated quite explicitly their purpose, namely to prevent people likely to vote for the other major party from voting. To quote a state government representative, "Voter ID, which is gonna allow ______________ to win the state of Pennsylvania, done". (I'm leaving the party name blank here to protect the guilty). Acts of these sorts are an anathema to democratic governance.

Re:and then there's this (1, Insightful)

daemonenwind (178848) | about 2 years ago | (#41521573)

Let me see if I can help you with some of this.

1. You say the problem doesn't exist. The problem there is, if anyone can just walk in to the poll and say, "I'm Steve Wozniak", and we never ask for any proof that they are who they say they are, how do you prove they aren't Steve Wozniak 3 days later? Add to this the well-documented voter registration quotas Acorn was running, and you have a political organization with a list of registered, fantasy voters. Photo ID, of course, means you can mess up the registered voter rolls all you want and it won't matter. Right now, it matters greatly.

2. I'm not aware of a Voter ID law that doesn't provide for appropriate ID for those who can't afford it, or some other means (like nursing home residents' medical records) as appropriate. That said, you can't open a bank account, get a credit card, drive, drink, get into clubs or buy medicine without photo ID. It seems highly unlikely any significant amount of people really don't have it anymore.

3. Actually, no one is looking for real people to not be able to vote. See point 1. But then, maybe you say this because you like it this way. (I'll leave out party affilitaion of those who don't like what's right/wrong being documented anywhere, to protect the guilty)

Re:and then there's this (5, Insightful)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 2 years ago | (#41521777)

1) Think about this for a second. If you want to commit a felony, would you rather commit the felony in person where you can be caught, or would you rather commit it anonymously via absentee ballot?

For example, the special election of Bill Stinson in 1993 in PA was overturned because the election was stolen...with absentee ballots [nytimes.com] .

2a) You know that "free" ID you were supposed to get? Take PA, where the law was passed in the past seven months (March 2012). That "free" photo ID did not exist until late August! Up until then, they were requiring everyone to get the standard photo ID - the one that costs money and requires a higher burden of proof. Imagine your surprise when you go to PennDOT and try to get your "free" photo ID, after you manage to get a ride there (did you know that something like six counties in PA have no PennDOT facility, and another 13-ish counties have one facility open one day a week?)...only to discover that you actually do need to pay for your ID.

2b) What you need an ID for in modern society is a red herring when it comes to voting. Almost 20% of the registered voters in Philadelphia do not have a state-issued ID! Regardless of this fact, how do you define a "significant" amount of people without ID? If this law ends up preventing more legitimate votes than preventing fraudulent votes, is that significant enough for you?

3) I think you're mistaken when you think "no one" is trying to prevent real people from voting. You know that firm that the Republicans are disowning lately, Strategic Allied Consulting? The owner back in 2004 was caught throwing away registrations from voters who registered Democrat [8newsnow.com] . The GOP knows that in-person voter ID is practically nonexistent, and that elections are really stolen with absentee ballots or just by manipulating the voting machines, like these eight people in Clay County, Kentucky, including a judge [kentucky.com] .

Voter fraud is real, but in-person voter fraud is very rare (see 1 for why). So if the GOP is really interested in honest elections, why are they focusing on the rarest form of fraud? None of these ID laws would stop any of the documented instances of voter fraud that I have mentioned in this post - at least one of which resulted in an actual stolen election.

Re:and then there's this (1, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 2 years ago | (#41521575)

"Voter ID, which is gonna allow ______________ to win the state of Pennsylvania, done". (I'm leaving the party name blank here to protect the guilty).

You made a good case, up until you decided to protect the guilty group.

How can other people believe in the strength of your opinion, when you run from controversy at the slightest whiff of risk?

If you don't believe in your position strongly enough to take a stand, then no one else will either.

Ethics without courage is nothing (cf: integrity [wikipedia.org] ).

Re:and then there's this (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41521835)

It's solving a problem that doesn't exist. The folks that have been pushing photo ID have been able to come up with approximately 10 cases

You contradict yourself in the very next sentence where you claim the problem does exist. It might not be a large problem, but a small problem is not a non-existent problem.

If you don't, then this is an unnecessary (see point 1) expense

So you see no difference between being able to vote and not being able to vote? That makes it something other than unnecessary.

The party that pushed through these bills stated quite explicitly their purpose, namely to prevent people likely to vote for the other major party from voting.

I see you forgot to fill in the blanks. You mean the Republicans want to pass the law to prevent Democrats from exercising certain types of electoral fraud? That does sound pretty damning when you put it that way.

Well, I hope you don't mind another election where the exit polls have this consistent bias compared to the votes counted. If we're to have fair elections we'll have to abandon electoral fraud that happens to benefit our perceived side as well.

Voters' intent (0)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#41520475)

Al Franken can thank his buddies for making sure the "voters' intent" was judged in his favor by just enough to swing the 2008 Senate race in his favor.

Re:Voters' intent (3, Interesting)

hondo77 (324058) | about 2 years ago | (#41520561)

His buddies must have included the entire Minnesota Supreme Court, since it was their unanimous decision that rejected his opponent's appeal. But don't let facts stop you from your right-wing conspiracy theories.

Re:Voters' intent (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520877)

It was a violation of "equal protection under the law" because different ballots were treated differently by different voting districts. Just so happened that disqualified ballots from liberal districts were treated a lot more leniently than disqualified ballots from conservative districts.

This is all well documented. The Minnesota Supreme Court refused to intervene because they were using a high malice standard.

That doesn't make what happened right, and I highly doubt that a fair recount would have resulted in the election of Franken.

Re:Voters' intent (1, Troll)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#41521437)

Franken won by ~225 votes. Most districts only had 10 or 20 ballots that Coleman was disputing. Is your theory that the omniscient democrats launched a state-wide conspiracy to reject a dozen Coleman votes here, two dozen there, somehow knowing that that would tip the scales?

No, you are just parroting what you have heard from your chosen masters, who have been having a temper tantrum for the better part of four years.

Re:Voters' intent (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41521691)

Is your theory that the omniscient democrats launched a state-wide conspiracy to reject a dozen Coleman votes here, two dozen there, somehow knowing that that would tip the scales?

I've heard a similar theory about casinos. That they try to get you drunk, say via free martinis, in order to get more money out of you. But who really believes that there's an omniscient casino industry out there which launched an industry-wide conspiracy to get you drunk in order to lower your inhibitions and judgment and thereby profit from it at the gaming table?

No you'd just be parroting what you heard from your chosen masters.

In the case above, all it takes for this so-called omniscience is a couple of good polls. That's all you need to see that the race was too close to call. And a state-wide "conspiracy" would be rather easy for a major party to implement.

And the fruits of the alleged conspiracy are that the Democrats would get a senate seat. We have the knowledge necessary to make the "conspiracy", the means to drop votes, and the motive for doing so.

Argument by conspiracy really only works, if the conspiracy is ridiculously hard to do and runs counter to the interests of the alleged members. When it's downhill all the way, one needs far better arguments than "It's a conspiracy theory, therefore you must be wrong."

Re:Voters' intent (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#41521827)

You're not making sense. Polls have nowhere near the precision required to predict the outcome of a senate race within a few hundred votes. Furthermore, you are positing that dozens of election officials all conspired to commit a fraud against the American people, which is a far cry from a few casino execs getting their customers to spend more money.

On top of that, if the Democrats have the means to cheat close elections, why only that one? There are plenty of close elections that they've lost.

You believe in this big evil liberal conspiracy because, at the time, you were upset and latched on to the first alternate theory presented, and now you're too invested in it to see reason.

Re:Voters' intent (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521915)

The MAJORITY of judges on the panel were republican. The Surpreme Court knew judges were deciding things in the process ALREADY according to law. There was no sign the republican judges were doing anything wrong and franken won. Coleman lost and played dirty and nasty the whole time. I was involved in the recount process. It was fair, and video taped and highly documented. They pulled every BS dispute to drag things out until a judge got on their case about being so ridiculous and even then they were dicks about it. They'd complain about ballots where somebody WROTE IN Franken! It was clear that they decided if they lost (or that they would lose) they would drag things out for the longest amount of time possible.

Fraud (1, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | about 2 years ago | (#41520713)

Gerrymandering is the creative drawing of district boundaries to ensure a desired outcome. It's not a good thing, but it's hardly fraud, since there's no disconnect between who got the votes and who got elected.

Intimidating voters is an evil thing — using extortion to influence an election. But once again, not fraud.

Not all evils are the same, which is why we have different laws to cover stealing from a bank with a forged check and stealing from a bank with a gun.

It's those that DON'T you need to worry about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520825)

All you dumbass Americans should read Greg Palast's book "Billionaires and Ballot Bandidts" to see what a completely broken electoral system you have.

Re:It's those that DON'T you need to worry about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521493)

Thankfully I am not dumbass, and have no interest in reading it, now that I know it is a book intended for dumbass Americans.

How does Florida 2000 elections look? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520957)

That 'voter turnout/votes winner' test - this is well know and statisticians have long used it to show how impossible election results are
For example Mexico 2006, the provinces where the opposition party was strong reported an abnormally low turnout while Calderon's (Govt seeking reelection) was initially believed to be losing, then provinces where he was likely to win, they reported extremely strong turnout, and massive majorities to him. Swinging the election with a statistically impossible last minute swing.

http://www.lalkar.org/issues/contents/sep2006/mexico.php

So how do US election fair?

I can see Russia did the 100% turnout/ vote for Putin thing so common in dictatorships. I wonder what happens when you use these tests against USA?

And what kind of fraud is being used... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520967)

...to keep Ron Paul off the ballot? Personally, I see it as the 'extreme' kind, the kind people should be in prison for.

Russian elections (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#41520993)

I see they've used the recent parliamentary ('11) and presidential ('12) Russian elections as one of the inputs, and they do indeed show some nice graphs there. Well, good to know that at least there is something good for science coming out of that mess.

American elections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521311)

For whatever reason, I couldn't access the article. But was there any reason they didn't use a more easily accessible data set, like the Republican and Democrat primaries?

cancel Iraq war (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521025)

Can we please cancel the iraq war if we find out Bush was wrongfully elected because of the Florida issues

How can anyone legitimately object to Voter ID? (1, Interesting)

djh101010 (656795) | about 2 years ago | (#41521271)

Seriously. The whole point of the law is to make sure people are only voting where they live. In Wisconsin at least, IDs for voting are free. Yet, people cry "disenfranchisement", as if somehow anyone, even someone who has no job, can somehow survive without a state issued ID. Can someone please, without frothing at the mouth and namecalling, help me understand what the actual objections of "Wow, you should be able to prove you're voting where you live", is a problem? Especially when, see previous re: State issued ID cards being free?

Republican House Leader can help you (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521451)

Well the Republican house leader from Pennsylvania can help you out there:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o32tF-S6K60

Even the Republican House Leader admits the law was intended to let Mitt Romney win Pen State.

They made a list of specific forms of ID that are valid and ones that are not. That list gives a heavily weighted bias to Republicans. So 15 million people need a new government ID in Republican states, those people are mostly Democrat and unaligned voters. They'll have to get this Id from governments under GOP control that haven't invested in the capacity to issue all of those IDs until after the elections.

That's enough to probably win Pen State for Mitt Romney. They know it, that's what it was intended to do. Yet the claim is of 'buses' moving fake voters from state to state. When they've investigated that claim, it's been found to be completely bogus. Misregistrations being so far below statistical significance as to be one of the more ludicrous claim Fox has made.

Re:How can anyone legitimately object to Voter ID? (3, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#41521555)

Very simple.

The purpose of an election is to determine will of the majority (or at least plurality) of the voting public.

If Alice and Bob are running against each other, and an illegal immigrant casts a ballot for Alice, then the election is biased 1 vote towards her.

But in the same scenario, if one person who was planning to vote for Bob gives up due to long lines, then the election is also biased by 1 vote towards Alice.

The two situations have roughly the same impact, and there's no rational reason to worry about one over the other. So, if you want voter ID laws, you must prove that the number of false ballots that such laws stop exceeds the number of valid ballots that are also stopped.

So where is your evidence of widespread voter fraud? You don't have any, because it doesn't even make sense to commit that style of fraud. If you wanted to steal an election, you would bribe a few dozen people to stuff ballot boxes, not a few hundred thousand to cast false ballots. There's simply no way a conspiracy of such tremendous size could be kept secret.

Fixing a problem that does not exist - smokescreen (2)

bussdriver (620565) | about 2 years ago | (#41521889)

You must be new to politics. Fixing non-existent problems they can't prove exist is a dead give away. duh!

The complex rules and regulations on voting coming from the proponents of Voter IDs are where the true motives become clear-- the devil is in the details. Never trust a politician's summarization. Do you trust marketing claims? Probably, they hire marketing firms to sell you both.

How about this: You have a great popular video game; everybody wants it, but it includes a Sony-like DRM rootkit backdoor into your computer. Some people will install the game and weaken their systems while others will find out about the details and oppose it.

The sole purpose as their moves show is to PREVENT LEGIT VOTERS. It won't outlaw minorities voting, that would be illegal and unpopular-- but it can make sure it is extra difficult and harass demographics that typically vote against them. This is easy for the GOP to do as there are so many minority groups who are against them they can single them out easily. The DFL would as well except they lack such easy to spot targets that do not overlap into their supporters.

Re:Fixing a problem that does not exist - smokescr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41522151)

The sole purpose as their moves show is to PREVENT LEGIT VOTERS.

Oh, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

Fixing non-existent problems

The simple fact of the matter is that we have no idea how bad voter fraud is inside the US. We have no idea because we make no efforts to check for it. However, we do know that the Democratic Party has been using some pretty shady tactics to "register" voters and we do know that there have been some pretty suspicious votes. If Obama manages to win this year with the economy in the state it's in, we'll know we have a voter fraud problem. (Non-skewed polls and economic voting models both point to a Romney landslide.)

Voter ID is, at the very least, trying to solve a problem where we don't know that the people voting are the people who actually registered to vote. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, the fact is we don't know. Voter ID aims to fix that.

It has nothing to do with voter suppression and everything to do with preventing voter fraud - something we currently have no way of even knowing how large a problem it truly is. It's only "nonexistent" in that we make no effort to try and prevent it.

Latitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521299)

This gives 'Latitude' to the Obama Staffers at the White House on Electoral College Engineering.

They Win.

We Loose.

The ignition for a bloody revolution.

XD

Forget that (0)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#41521333)

Conservative operatives already know the best way to detect fraud [latimes.com] (hint: if you are a democratic voter living in a democratic district in a battleground state, you are committing fraud). After all, we all know that voting fraud only comes from the democrats.
,bR> Voting suppression, on the other hand, comes from the republicans. Too bad they don't just cancel each other out.

Anything effective will be smeared and banned (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 2 years ago | (#41522019)

Exit polling is highly effective as it was being done for decades and still is in many places to detect problems; some even call elections from it and just use the paper as a kind of verification process.

But in the USA, exit polling was smeared so bad and the public so ignorant it was outlawed in no time without much resistance. There is no reason they made such a huge and unjustified move other than current or future corruption plans. I think large enough fraud schemes were at risk of exposure and that is why it was killed.

Any new system that WORKED would threaten corruption and naturally the corrupt would strongly oppose it. Just like real news that keeps citizens properly informed gets whistle blower heroes persecuted and wikileaks...

Statistical tools??? (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | about 2 years ago | (#41521899)

...typically 100% turnout for a vote-counting region, with 100% voting for the winning party...

Um, just exactly how much statistical analysis is necessary to declare this fraud?

You mean fake voting (2)

Nov8tr (2007392) | about 2 years ago | (#41522109)

With electronic voting, anyone who actually thinks they are voting is fooling themselves. Its all a scam. The money people control who gets elected. They make a big deal out of it as a subterfuge for what is really going on. The guy who gets "elected" is the guy they wanted in office anyhow. Rep and Dem is two sides OF THE SAME COIN. They take turns being the bad guy like some good cop/bad cop routine. It gives the appearance to the public they are actually doing something. We haven't had a real election in a very long time. Its all a bad joke and the joke is on us. How do you think MASSIVE scale corruption continues in DC? luck? Sorry, welcome to reality 101. I wish it wasn't I really do, but unfortunately it is. Maybe someday we will actually be able to vote and have it matter. But only when money baggers are not allowed to corrupt them all.
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