« Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. | Main | Ban Interstate Traffic In Nonhuman Primates »

August 10, 2005

Comments

In addition to the redistricting measure, the proposed amendments would remove the secretary of state from oversight of elections, instead giving the power to an appointed election master. And it would lower some campaign contribution limits.

Election Master? Maybe the Dems should just assert that international law trumps the US laws and conduct Ohio elections in accordance with Iranian and Venezuelan statutes. Their election masters seem to have controlled those elections very well. Oh yes, and please, please, please put limits on politibal speech (so long as it's the bad guys that are being silenced.) Thanks, McCain and Feingold for making it illegal to publicly endorse a candidate around election time!

Election Master? Maybe the Dems should just assert that international law trumps the US laws and conduct Ohio elections in accordance with Iranian and Venezuelan statutes.

Uh-huh. That's got to be one of the dumber comments you've made, DaveC. Can I suggest you think about what the article is actually saying?

Elections in each of the state’s 88 counties are administered and supervised by a six person Board of Elections. Under Ohio law, this Board must be comprised of an equal number of persons from each “major party” in the election. To qualify as a “major party”, candidates from that particular party must garner a minimum percentage of the overall votes in certain statewide elections (if memory serves, the percentage is 25%). At this time, only two parties qualify as “major parties”. Therefore, each Board of Election in each county is comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans. As a result of this, the election staffs working for the Board of Elections in each county are also comprised of roughly the same number of Democrats and Republicans

This type of system is what Hilzoy thinks is unfair. If I read her post correctly, she thinks that a better way to administer the election is for a single person to oversee them. I don't think that this is wise. Also, I might be tempted to point out that election fraud and tampering happened in Wisconsin and Washington to the extent where it may have changed the outcome of elections. Those states in my opinion had far more grievous election irregularities, but those went in favor of Dems.

Also, I might be tempted to point out that election fraud and tampering happened in Wisconsin and Washington to the extent where it may have changed the outcome of elections.

Which elections?

Similarly, Republicans at the national level are supporting expansions of government power that they'd never want Democrats to wield if they were ever in control. Repeated instances of Republicans feeling confident that their rule will continue for the next thousand years make me wonder if there is something to the conspiracy theories about voting machines.

DaveC, if everything's controlled by these bipartisan boards, what purpose does the secretary of state serve in election oversight? Are you saying Blackwell had no power?

I would like to know more about the election master, since if the governor can just appoint someone from a presidential candidate's campaign to the position we're no better off than we are now.

The bit about the "election master" doesn't seem to correspond to the description given by Reform Ohio Now:

Reform Ohio Now's Amendment would remove partisan public officials from the administration of state elections. This amendment would create a bipartisan board similar in responsibilities to the County Board of Elections. If a bipartisan system is good enough for all of our 88 counties, it should be good enough for Ohio as a whole.
Sounds like the boards DaveC likes would be preserved, and something similar would be installed at the state level. It certainly sounds better than having one candidate's crony in charge of things.

Anarch, in Washington several hundred dead people,or corpses,voted for the Democratic candidate for governor. I will mercifully omit comments about brain dead status but will note the need,the urgency,for electoral change in a state which Republicans won and the nonchalance shown Washington.

several hundred dead people,or corpses,voted

link ?

several hundred dead people,or corpses,

Well, which were they? Dead people or corpses?

I think it's a bad idea to put the redistricting process anywhere where elected legislators can get their mitts on it. So, in the spirit of checks and balances...how about getting the judiciary to reject redistricting proposals based on some simple rules? Including the current districts, it kind of goes without saying. With consequences, too: dunno what an intelligent consequence might be, but here's a placeholder: if an acceptable redistricting proposal is not submitted before some deadline, the office-holder is oustered and replaced by his/her opponent.

Again, this isn't a serious proposal, simply a serious proposal to disengage districting from the hands of those who have an interest in...how can I put it...creative drawing of district boundaries.

The redistricting problem is a nationwide scandal. It really does undermine the democratic foundations of our country, by making gerrymandering the norm. It locks in incumbents, and makes some votes worth more than others.

Doubtless there are some ways of redistricting that are better than others--bipartisan is probably better than single-party, large boards may be better than small groups.

But what's really needed is agreement about a completely mechanical method for dividing up the population of a state into the number of reps that it has, in the simplest and most transparent way possible.

I mean, I would think about just rasterizing it for starters; if California has 50 reps, then just start at the northern border with an east-west line, and push the line south until you've counted out 1/50th of the Californians. Chalk it, and push the line south again till you've counted out the next tranche. Of course sometimes these parallels will be far apart (up around Yreka), and sometimes they'll be very close together (in LA). But they will be *politically arbitrary*, and I mean that in a good way.

Politicians will complain that this breaks up "constituencies", and leads to districts that have jumbles of voters with different interests and different needs. Again, that strikes me as a *good* thing. No Federal representative should be involved in the sort of retail politics that divides rural Californians from urban ones; that sort of stuff should be left to the state reps.

Look, I'm not advocating redistricting-by-raster as a plan that is going to catch on. I just want something that is equally transparent, mechanical, arbitrary, and *visibly* above political manipulation, and I offer this extreme version to make the point.

why not just use county lines? those lines are at least permanent (for the most part).

johnt, DaveC - redistricting is different than fraud; so far as I know, no one has alleged that Washington's election districts were mapped in such a way as to advantage democrats. And last I heard, Arnold, who supports the CA measure, was a Republican. Besides, I imagine that proponents of this kind of reform see these two proposals as trial balloons, and would love to see this power removed from interested politicians in all 50 states, including, yes, Washington.

And finally, y'know, if you are aware of a coalition led by the GOP working to reform Washington elections, link to it, email the kitten about it (Charles is probably your best bet there, given his writing on the election), or whatever. Why should hilzoy be doing your research for you? Otherwise you are just waving your hands around and playing gotcha.

Tad, gerrymandering occurs at the level of state legislative districts as well, so they need redistricting reform too. But Kevin Drum proposed a scheme similar to yours:

In Southern California, for example, this would produce several districts a few hundred yards high by two hundred miles wide, but what the hell. As far as I'm concerned, it's just a foolproof way of creating random collections of citizens for voting purposes.

Cleek, counties vary widely in population, and very few of them will happen to be the right size to be congressional districts or state legislative districts.

Cleek,Paul. Cleek "link"? Do you doubt it and if so why? Ah,only the republicans are capable of such skullduggery,just guessing and perhaps I'm doing you an injustice. I read ay least three or four stories in the NY Times{bow your head}. If you wish to do a search be my guest but there's more on the Washington elections,hundreds of ballots discovered in a warehouse[?] in a heavily democratic district at the last possible minute. The U S cavalry at work,the Lone Ranger to the rescue! Paul,"which were they etc". Actually a little of each although there is some dispute as to whether they were democrats when healthy,or coverted on the death bed,or became democrats sometime after the funeral. The embalming may have helped.

johnt, if your prose was twice as intelligble you'd only be half as entertaining.

So, in the spirit of checks and balances...how about getting the judiciary to reject redistricting proposals based on some simple rules? Including the current districts, it kind of goes without saying.

What Iowa's got (bipartisan commission with a mandate to produce compact districts) seems to work well -- their Congressional races are much more likely to be competitive than those in other states.

KCinDC--

yeah, maybe I got the idea from Drum, don't recall. Details less important than broad objectives: mechanical, transparent, and arbitrary.

What Iowa's got (bipartisan commission with a mandate to produce compact districts) seems to work well -- their Congressional races are much more likely to be competitive than those in other states.

We ought to give Iowa a try!

Tad, you indicated earlier that state reps should be representing communities, so the method for creating mechanical, arbitrary districts for them isn't so clear. If we have to come up with a method less mechanical than rasters or grids for state legislative districts anyway, we might as well use it for congressional districts. I don't think Iowa's method is mechanical, but it is nonpartisan (or perhaps bipartisan, which is probably all we can hope for), so it serves the purpose. I think districts should be compact (by some definition), but paying attention to community boundaries (something gerrymandering often doesn't do) seems like a good thing in general.

Cleek, counties vary widely in population, and very few of them will happen to be the right size to be congressional districts or state legislative districts.

i wasn't suggesting that each county get its own rep, but rather use the county lines as fixed borders for districting. group counties together to get enough people, in sparse areas, have multiple reps in counties where there are too many - but don't let district lines follow anything but county lines.

Do you doubt it and if so why?

because i've personally not seen any evidence. duh.

It's always refreshing to see zombies take time out from all that brain-eating to do their civic duty.

Here in Texas, we take a back seat to no one when it comes to gerrymandering and casting votes from beyond the grave. Still, I'd support election reforms of the kind proposed in California and Ohio. Whatever the short-term consequences to the party I generally support, in the long run it can only improve our democracy.

Cleek, that's how a lot of states used to do it. Unfortunately, the Warren Court, in all its wisdom, declared such boundaries to be unconstitutional. In fact, according to a later opinion written by Justice Brennan, any districting system that doesn't have 100% equipopulosity is unconstitutional. I believe that was in a case called Karcher v. Daggett, where the Court struck down a district map that was 99% equipopulous.

Now, if you used municipal boundaries rather than county lines, it might work. Karcher leaves wiggle room for very small deviations in district size in order to respect existing political boundaries. But not the deviations you'd get with county lines.

Perhaps we can dodge the problem by getting rid of most districts and doing multi-person elections in superdistricts. Divide California, say, into five giant blocks (north-south? four on the west edge and one convering the east edge? doesn't matter much) and conduct STV/proportional representation elections for 10 or 11 reps at a time in each block. I really think that issue/ideology groupings are more important these days than geographical grouping, and geographical intrest blocks can still exist...

In fact, according to a later opinion written by Justice Brennan, any districting system that doesn't have 100% equipopulosity is unconstitutional.

ahhhh... stupid technicalities :)

any districting system that doesn't have 100% equipopulosity is unconstitutional

I'd just like to note that this standard is impossible to uphold.

Even the Washington Republicans and Charles don't think, or at least assert, that there was tampering in Washington. There was human error in Washington and a very very close count. There was massive systematic tampering in Ohio, orchestrated by Blackwell and intended to effect the outcome. A person should not allow partisanship to blind them to the distinction; one election had mistakes, the other had deliberate acts intended to disenfranchise voters and thwart the process of democracy. No one likes errors, but they are human. Every good citizen should be committed to ending human error as much as possible and eliminating fraud. The people who continue to minimize, ignore, rationalize, and otherwise pretend to themselves that Ohio Republicans didn't commit fraud are failing in their civic responisbilities. I am more than willing to have our election again if Ohio's is held again too.

Did Karcher vs. Daggett strike down the map *because* it was only 99% equipopulous instead of 100%? For that sole reason?

That would be an absurd decision, as several people have noted. But the infeasibility of the 100% target is so evident on the face that I find it hard to believe that this was all that was going on in that case.

There was massive systematic tampering in Ohio, orchestrated by Blackwell

Cite please? I must have been on vacation when Blackwell was hauled off to the clink.

Tad, yes, this is made PAINFULLY obvious when you have two divide a voter in half to achieve that magic 100% mark.

See here:

Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964), located the constitutional command of equal population among congressional districts in Article I, § 2, of the Constitution. Later,Karcher v. Daggett sharpened the rule, requiring congressional districts to be equally populated and authorizing only “the limited population variances which are unavoidable despite a good-faith effort to achieve absolute equality[.]” 462 U.S. at 730.

Well johnt, since you don't seem to be displaying the courage of your convictions (or maybe you just don't know how to use these internet thingies), allow me to help with one little link to get you started. Eight and counting out of circa 2.7 million -- why you'd almost think that these were the result of fraud perpetrated by random individuals instead of a concerted effort... BTW there's nothing to stop you from asking King County what they found out about Mary Coffey and the others -- I'd certainly like to know more about that one.

Mind you, it's odd how some of those dead people were so proud of the fact that they voted Republican, isn't it? Maybe it was the GOP that was making a concerted effort. Or maybe it was a double head fake by Dems. Or maybe it's okay because Republican fraud is so sweet and heartwarming. Too, it's strange how the GOP wanted to blocked efforts to count what were almost certainly legitimate votes simply because it looked as though they were ahead. You'd almost think that it wasn't a matter of principle for them, so much as victory.

See, two can play at the unsourced allegations game johnt. Go find those stories if you're interested...

Here's the Karcher opinion. There's a little wiggle room in section IV, but not much.

Hey, I'm just the messenger here.

There's a little wiggle room in section IV, but not much.

Probably more than enough so that you don't have to ask married couples which side of the bed they habitually sleep on, I'd guess.

slartibartfast--

Right--and the case where there are only two districts and an odd number of citizens is really fairly tractable--just ask Solomon.

Trickier where there's some larger prime number of districts and a prime number of citizens--even Solomon in all his glory would have had trouble allocating those remaining 17/23rds of voters, or what have you.

But the language that kenB cites--" limited population variances which are unavoidable despite a good-faith effort to achieve absolute equality" suggests to me that a map with 99% success could well pass the Karcher test. And that the 99% compliant one that was struck down may have been struck down for reasons that went beyond its mere numerical imperfection, e.g. a lack of good-faith efforts.

Slarti--"None Dare Call it Stolen" Harper's, this month.
I know my post upthread had an angry, condemning tone to it. I'm not going to apologize for that but I will explain.
There has been, over the years, a lot of talk about terrorists threatening democracy. Terrorists don't threaten democracy. They threaten lives and property. Only we ourselves can threaten democracy.
Our democracy has been threatened from within many times by local or state machines of either party that controlled or sought to control the outcome of elections. Usually it takes bipartisan support to throw out that kind of anti-democratic power structure. Most of the work might be done by the party out of power but a reassertion of true domcracy usually requires support from good citizens in the empowered party who care about fairness.

Right now we have a national party that has been involved in election fraud and voter disenchisement in two elections and in several states, most particularly Florida and Ohio. We can't have a demcracy if we can't trust the electoral process and we can't restore trustworthy practices if people, out of patisanship, refuse to admit the problem.

It's a question of loyalty. Loyalty to the process of democracy should supercede loyalty to a party.

Ah, there's a temperate treatment of the facts, at least from the excerpts.

From what's in the excerpts, it's an opinion piece, without much in the way of information.

Ah, here's a summary, too.

To hurl all balloting error into the fraud-conspiracy basket is to engage in the same sort of crap you hate to hear from this side of center, lily. This is the sort of sin Mark Crispin Miller, the author of the article you cite, is committing.

To hurl all balloting error...

You should read the second piece to which you linked. If you did in fact read it, you should not summarize it completely inaccurately.

From what's in the excerpts, it's an opinion piece, without much in the way of information.

This is also completely inaccurate, as you should know from looking at the summary in the second piece to which you linked.

"But what's really needed is agreement about a completely mechanical method for dividing up the population of a state into the number of reps that it has, in the simplest and most transparent way possible."

Yes.

Slarti: I haven't followed the 2004 Ohio story as closely as I should. But as I understand it, there have been allegations of fraud, which I'm not in a position to assess. But there have also been allegations of the sort of thing one might expect an unscrupulous person in charge of running the elections to do if he wanted to benefit his own party, and these actually occurred. E.g, more voting machines, and thus less lines, in GOP districts (which wouldn't be that significant if the resulting lines were 10 minutes as opposed to 5, but when you get into hours and hours, it's not crazy to think that some people might have left without voting, and when the long lines are way disproportionately in Democratic precincts, and the State Sec. is Republican, it's not crazy either to think that that's not a coincidence.

Now: I think it's damaging to democracy when stuff like that happens, obviously. But I also think it's damaging to democracy when stuff like that can reasonably be believed to have happened; since then people become cynical about the entire process. For this reason I think it would be worth putting a clearly non-partisan process in place, even if no partisan official has ever been anything but scrupulously fair. All the more so, of course, if they haven't.

Slarti -
The summary does, however, specifically cite to this judiciary committee report issued by Rep. Conyers, which contains a great deal of specific information. You can draw your own conclusions about whether Conyers' findings amount to a case for fraud, I suppose, but you can't exactly call it an opinion piece.

Unfortunately, mechanical cures, such as rasterizing (note that whether you do it horizontally or vertically could make a big difference), may well be worse than the disease.

Think of a random assignment of voters to virtual "districts." You would likely get a Congressional delegation that was made up entirely of Represenatives from the majority party, even if the electorate split were only something like 55-45.

If you really want the delegation to reflect the ideological makeup of the state the best way to do that is proportional representation, or multi-member districts at least. The chance of that happening is only slightly higher than the chance I will be named King of Saudi Arabia. Given that, some sort of constrained political process is probably a better guarantor of fair minority party representation than a pure mechanical procedure.

It's not clear what rules the proposed panels are supposed to operate under. I think that, aside from objective matters like compactness, etc. they should be permitted, possibly even required, to try to design districts that represent the political makeup of the state.

You should read the second piece to which you linked. If you did in fact read it, you should not summarize it completely inaccurately.

Oh, but I did. Then I did more than a teensy bit of Googling. Which, you ought to try that.

Ohio is similar to Florida in that the responsibility for actually conducting the election is placed on the individual counties. County elections committees are all bipartisan. How did Blackwell purportedly pull all these various stunts under the watchful eye of Democrats? Not only is this never explained, it isn't even mentioned in passing. Note that each county elections committee is composed of four to six members, half Democrats and half Republicans.

I'm reading the Conyers piece, which seems both befuddled as to the exact facts and overly confident that Blackwell committed a crime. Nevertheless, I note in passing that although this report is seven months old, "Blackwell Ohio indicted" doesn't seem to return any interesting Google hits. And, bizarrely, indictment of Blackwell does not appear to be among Conyers' recommendations, even though Conyers insinuates on several occasions that Blackwell may have broken a multitude of elections laws.

hilzoy, I don't dispute that safety mechanisms should be in place, but that sort of thing is pretty much up to the individual states. It frankly baffles me why so many states are turning to touch-screen machines, while others still use punch-card ballots. It's as if Florida 2000 never was in the news. Still, stupidity is a luxury we afford our states when it comes to counting votes, and if you can figure out a way around that, excellent. Less stupidity all around can't be a bad thing.

I think the Iowa way of drawing districts seems like one good leg for a platform of broader reform (not just in Ohio, but everywhere), and would like to suggest that the Nebraska and Maine methods of tallying electoral votes is another common sense measure close to my heart. I don't know the feasibility of getting either of these ideas rolling nationwide, but I imagine if enough people thought about them, they might support them. Then again, maybe not.

One potential model is the arbitration system used in e.g. baseball salary arbitration. Both sides submit a proposal and an independent arbitor selects the proposal that's least outrageous according to some principles about what is reasonable and what is outrageous. In the districting case, this might mean that every party that participated in the last election that got at least 10% of the vote is allowed to submit a districting proposal. An (independent) arbitration panel is given guidelines such as keeping districts as compact as possible and honoring city and county boundaries as much as possible and then picks the most appropriate proposal.

At least in salary arbitration this keeps the numbers reasonable, because if you submit something ridiculous, you greatly increase the chance of your opponent's plan getting accepted, and give them a much wider range of acceptability to work in. Plus the plan submitted by the Greens would probably always be the most reasonable one.

Major hole here is keeping the arbitration panel 'independent', but that's manageable.

Oh, but I did.

You most certainly did not. The vast majority of things listed in the summary of the article were not "balloting error", which was the implication of your post.

The vast majority of things listed in the summary of the article were not "balloting error", which was the implication of your post.

You know, that's true, felix. Neither did the vast majority involve Blackwell, so evidently you didn't read it, either.

Bernard Yomtov--

You are worried about Colonel Blotto, perhaps?

Just read Karcher. It seems to me that this isn't really that much of a barrier to a fair and non-partisan effort. As noted, the Court wasn't saying 99% isn't good enough, it was saying that a less-than-good-faith exercise of naked partisanship that comes up with 99% isn't good enough.

(It was also fun to remember while reading the case that Brennan was a NJ Republican).

What we need here is a national compromise of sorts. Kind of like admission of new states between 1820 and 1850: One of each flavor at a time. California and Texas go for non-partisan redistricting, then Florida and Illinois, usw. To bad the folks who thought they were voting for a uniter not a divider were so sadly misinformed.

(I don't use the L word very often, but wrt this campaign promise, I think it more than appropriate. The Pres had no intention, ever, of seeking some kind of national reconciliation [which would have to come at some expense of Rep unity], and his statements to the effect that he would do so were blatant outright lies. Was anyone fooled? That's a tougher point, but I'd guess that the representation was made because it focus-grouped well, and thus had an impact.)


Oh so you think that there was massive systematic tampering in Ohio, but that is was orchestrated by someone other than Blackwell. Who?

Oh, and my post didn't say anything at all to the effect that it was only balloting errors, just that occurences that had been historically observed as balloting errors were held up as purported evidence of conspiracy.

And sure, you didn't say outright that Blackwell was the bad guy, here, but if you're not saying that, I'm not sure what your point is.

Oh so you think that there was massive systematic tampering in Ohio, but that is was orchestrated by someone other than Blackwell. Who?

Since this massive, systematic tampering thing is not my assertion, I haven't got any theories. If you've got some, please share.

usw

You know, German abbreviations make me hot.

My point was that the article was not an opinion piece, that this was obvious from the summary of it to which you linked even as you dismissed it as an opinion piece, and that the article contains a large number of factual assertions backed up by references, instead of "not much in the way of information", and those assertions are not limited to the aformentioned "balloting errors" - a term which itself begs the question.

Whether those assertions are based in fact will only be determined when people with the power to conduct a serious investigation decide those assertions are worth investigating seriously.

"But what's really needed is agreement about a completely mechanical method for dividing up the population of a state into the number of reps that it has, in the simplest and most transparent way possible."

Yes.

As I've noted previously, give me 10 minutes, a pen, and the back of a bar napkin and I can do that without breaking a sweat. And this has been verified experimentally.

blockquote>that this was obvious from the summary of it to which you linked

Actually, if you read the FIRST thing I linked to, which was the Harper's excerpts, it was nothing at all but opinion. The other link was not Harper's, so I have no idea how much of the data in there was obtained from Miller's piece. That link was undeniably not an opinion piece, but it's also undeniably not penned by Miller. If you're still confused about what I meant, I was referring to the Harper's excerpts when I said "opinion piece", which can be easily verified as true by following the link to the Harper's exerpts and doing a little reading.

Whether those assertions are based in fact will only be determined when people with the power to conduct a serious investigation decide those assertions are worth investigating seriously.

What, the House Judiciary wasn't enough clout? What do you think is going to do the trick?

Tad,

No. Though the game sounds like an interesting puzzle. My point was simpler. Take 6000 Democrats and 4000 Republicans and randomly assign each person to one of ten thousand-member groups. It is overwhelmingly likely that all ten groups will have Democratic majorities.

Your proposal might work better than that, because party affiliation tends to be geographically concentrated, so you are more likely to get some Republican majority districts, but this depends on luck. I think any pure mechanical system would be the same. I prefer a system that relies on human beings operating under enforceable rules that require an effort to make the outcome reasonably representative of the state, including giving fair representation to the minority party.

Actually, Brennan was a Democrat. Eisenhower nominated him as a gesture of bipartisanship. He was from NJ, however.

Anyway, differing interpretations of Karcher aside, I wonder if the county-line system could work if you drew fewer than the maximum number of districts using county lines, making them as approximately equal as possible, and then giving everyone throughout the state a fraction of a vote for one or two at-large congressional candidates in addition to their district candidate, with the size of that fraction varying in inverse proportion to the population of their district. Does that make any sense? I think I'm explaining this poorly. Are there any math geeks out there who could figure out whether this could actually work?

felixrayman: "My point was that the article was not an opinion piece, that this was obvious from the summary of it to which you linked even as you dismissed it as an opinion piece, and that the article contains a large number of factual assertions backed up by references, instead of "not much in the way of information", and those assertions are not limited to the aformentioned "balloting errors" - a term which itself begs the question."

I've read this five or six times now and find it quite possibly the single most convoluted, unintelligible sentence ever posted on this blog.

Congrats.

quite possibly the single most convoluted, unintelligible sentence ever posted on this blog

Hey! Mine!

Actually, if you read the FIRST thing I linked to ... The other link was not Harper's, so I have no idea how much of the data in there was obtained from Miller's piece

Could the byline "by Mark Crispin Miller, summarized by Mary Anne Saucier" serve as a clue?

What, the House Judiciary wasn't enough clout?

Is that supposed to be funny?

Hey! Mine!

Yes, slarti, you've had your share of close seconds.
Cite?? Oy.

Mine own comment here.

Could the byline "by Mark Crispin Miller, summarized by Mary Anne Saucier" serve as a clue?

Being unfamiliar with both Scoop and Ms. Saucier, I'm somewhat reluctant to equate the summary to the original article.

But this is all just haggling over where the information comes from. Given that the Conyers report has been linked to upthread, and given that that report is itself the source of all the data in my second link...what was your point, again?

Is that supposed to be funny?

I can understand this in addition to the answer to What do you think is going to do the trick?, but instead? I'm not a dentist.

"I've read this five or six times now and find it quite possibly the single most convoluted, unintelligible sentence ever posted on this blog."

And yet it's actually a perfectly readable, grammatical, sentence, unlike many often posted here. Something to ponder.

But this is all just haggling over where the information comes from

No, this is pointing out for those who have not read Miller's article that your evaluation of it is in fact false, and that you should have had reason to at the very least doubt that evaluation by reading the information on a page to which you yourself were linking.

I can understand this in addition to the answer to What do you think is going to do the trick?

The thing that would do that trick is the thing that the alleged actions would prevent were they true.

Pro that sentence here.

No, this is pointing out for those who have not read Miller's article that your evaluation of it is in fact false

Possibly, full comprehension of From what's in the excerpts... might have resulted in a different verdict. I'm not getting my hopes up, though.

The thing that would do that trick is the thing that the alleged actions would prevent were they true.

And we have a winner; I concede the title.

GF: "And yet it's actually a perfectly readable, grammatical, sentence, unlike many often posted here. Something to ponder."

Doubtless, the deficiency is mine.

This thread makes me grateful hilzoy didn't go to law school.

Possibly, full comprehension of From what's in the excerpts... might have resulted in a different verdict

Oh, that sentence is no doubt true as it reads, but it is also misleading. The statement, "it's an opinion piece, without much in the way of information" is in fact false and there is reason to believe the statement is false in an article you claim to have read, so what was the point of your assertion?

xanax: despite my Dad's having tried to convince me... I actually did think that I would have loved to be an appellate judge, and if there had been a way to have any sort of confidence that I would be appointed to such a judgeship, or even just considered on my merits, as opposed to having to play politics, I might well have gone to law school. But practicing law was something I was never interested in.

Thus, when I finally got exasperated with Dad, who kept saying: but you'd be good at the law, I did my very best arch glare, and said: Dad, I have no doubt that I have a lot to offer the law; but I fail to see what the law has to offer me. (I was, of course, kidding. But he didn't pursue the subject, which was the intended result.)

The statement, "it's an opinion piece, without much in the way of information" is in fact false and there is reason to believe the statement is false in an article you claim to have read, so what was the point of your assertion?

Oh, goody. Deliberate removal of a sentence fragment from context. If you expect me to take that argument seriously, prepare for disappointment.

And, really, if you're going to continue with this "you claim to have read" crap, piss off. If you're still confused about what I was talking about, I suggest you climb back upthread and read, carefully this time. I suggest turning the stereo down, too; loud music is known to be an impediment to reading comprehension.

I think that redistricting schemes would be both easier to do and more representative of communities if we made each district smaller. Expand the House by 2x, 3x, or whatever can be agreed upon. Each rep will be accountable to fewer people, and the district itself can be more simply drawn.

An argument against this would be that it would magnify the power of cities to an even greater degree. I don't have a solution for this (but I'm a Dem so no worries;)). I would think that each city could have districts that are far more representative of individual neighborhoods, so there could be more urban Republicans. That and there still is the Senate to balance the population-derived house.

As far as other reforms I'm pretty agnostic. Commissions sound OK, IRV: sure, proportional representation: I'm game. But all of them or none of them would work better if we sliced the districts finer.

hilzoy: i doubt even three years of law school could pollute or otherwise corrupt your gifts for clear thinking and clear writing. however, while some legal scholars carry the language to new heights on their intellectual backs, others - many, many others - are simply flattened by it. and vice versa.

and, yes, you would have been a fabulous judge.

And, really, if you're going to continue with this "you claim to have read" crap, piss off

You wrote, "From what's in the excerpts, it's an opinion piece, without much in the way of information". The information you yourself linked to gave every reason in the world to believe that the excerpt of the introduction to the article was not a definitive summary of it's contents, and that the article did in fact have much information. And the truth happens to be that the article does contain a wealth of factual assertions beyond mere opinion. This means that your statement was completely misleading to anyone who took it at face value without parsing it like a lawyer.And now you are resorting to telling people to "piss off" rather than explaining or correcting your misleading statement. Good luck with that.

OK, I went back and looked.

Slart: "From what's in the excerpts, it's an opinion piece, without much in the way of information."

The "excerpts" in question are the first few paragraphs of the article. Like many introductory passages, they set the stage, before proceeding to the substance (for which, presumably, Harper's wants you to pay). There is _plenty_ of "information" in the article, whatever you may think of its relevance, or even truthfulness.

Thus, your statement was technically correct, yet (as it happens) substantively in error.

Presuming that in fact you read further (or even read the second item you cited yourself), all you needed to say later, when you were called on this, was: "I now know that my statement, based on the intro, was not a proper characterization of the whole piece. There is in fact plenty of 'information' in the article." (Or you could phrase it less pompously; de gustibus, etc.)

You could then, if you wish, go on to argue that this 'information' was incorrect, or was used to buttress the wrong arguments, or was irrelevant to the Main Issue (whatever you think that was), and then you could otherwise engage with the topic of this thread. That would be reasonable.

Instead, by refusing to acknowledge that you spoke in haste, and therefore misleadingly - and which of us does not, especially on the Internet? - you neatly managed to deflect much attention from the stolen election in Ohio to your far far lesser infelicities and disingenuousness.

Well, you've deflected me temporarily, but I'm still clear about the main point. The GOP stole the election in Ohio. That no one has been (or is likely to be) indicted for this crime does not prove it didn't happen, any more than the acquittal of OJ Simpson proves his innocence.

Presuming that in fact you read further (or even read the second item you cited yourself), all you needed to say later, when you were called on this, was: "I now know that my statement, based on the intro, was not a proper characterization of the whole piece.

Assuming that the second item was in fact a summary of the original, yes. I have no information leading me to that conclusion, other than the claim in the second item.

Instead, by refusing to acknowledge that you spoke in haste, and therefore misleadingly

Whoa there, bucko. If Harper's doesn't want to present the appearance of an opinion piece, maybe showing just hint that there's information behind it may have been in order. Can you tell from the excerpt that this is anything but an opinion piece?

The GOP stole the election in Ohio.

That may be true, but that wasn't the claim. The claim was There was massive systematic tampering in Ohio, orchestrated by Blackwell and intended to effect the outcome, which I have yet to see anything resembling evidence for.

Hilzoy, ask not what the law can do for you...

CharleyCarp,

The Pres had no intention, ever, of seeking some kind of national reconciliation [which would have to come at some expense of Rep unity], and his statements to the effect that he would do so were blatant outright lies. Was anyone fooled?

In the 2000 election, perhaps. By 2004, though, anyone who was fooled would probably go to Casablanca for the waters.

Assuming that the second item was in fact a summary of the original, yes. I have no information leading me to that conclusion

When you stated, while linking to the second item, "Ah, here's a summary, too", you were assuming that the second item was a summary of what, exactly? This is just getting preposterous. You claimed that the second item was a summary of the first. If not, what were you claiming it was summarizing? Nothing? This is ridiculous.

It seems that you reached the conclusion to which you now say you have no information leading you. And for questioning such clear-sighted reasoning you tell people to piss off? Please.

If Harper's doesn't want to present the appearance of an opinion piece, maybe showing just hint that there's information behind it may have been in order.

One could note that the excerpt was the intro to an article in the Features section of Harper's, and that the article stated, "Even so, the evidence that something went extremely wrong last fall is copious, and not hard to find", and make the assumption that that evidence would be discussed in full in the rest of the article. This assumption would be particularly easy to make since you also looked at the same time at the second item, with the byline "by Mark Crispin Miller, summarized by Mary Anne Saucier", that summarized the factual assertions contained in the full Miller article.

"Think of a random assignment of voters to virtual "districts." You would likely get a Congressional delegation that was made up entirely of Represenatives from the majority party, even if the electorate split were only something like 55-45."

I'm pretty sure the main chance of this happening would come from a completly even distribution of both sides across the entire geography in question. As such I don't think this is very likely to be a valid objection at all.

Whoops I see you expanded later, but you kinda made it worse:

Though the game sounds like an interesting puzzle. My point was simpler. Take 6000 Democrats and 4000 Republicans and randomly assign each person to one of ten thousand-member groups. It is overwhelmingly likely that all ten groups will have Democratic majorities.

Your proposal might work better than that, because party affiliation tends to be geographically concentrated, so you are more likely to get some Republican majority districts, but this depends on luck. I think any pure mechanical system would be the same. I prefer a system that relies on human beings operating under enforceable rules that require an effort to make the outcome reasonably representative of the state, including giving fair representation to the minority party.

What does this have to do with the actuality? Under current enforceable rules there is no requirement that the outcome be reasonably representative of the state including fair representation to the minority party. At least not if your proposal suggests that Republicans in your hypothetical ought to get about 40% of the representatives. The whole point of gerrymandering is to avoid that kind of outcome by concentrating the (in this example) Republicans in districts where they will win by overwhelming majorities so that the Democrats can then win far more seats by having many more Democrat-majority districts. Take your example with 10 districts.

Your worry is that there will be 600 Democrats and 400 Republicans in each district. Democrats get all 10 representatives. People tend to live in clusters with common interests, so in practice, this doesn't happen. In the old days of mostly geographic boundaries you would probably get something like 6-7 Democrat representatives because people don't spread out evenly, but the borders won't be due to political tampering and would be pretty close to what you want anyway. A good gerrymander could make that 8 or 9 by making intentionaly making a 1000 Republican district and diluting all of the other ones.

A mechanical method would be better because it wouldn't be subject to intentional gaming over long periods of time and through population shifts. It would be like setting firm election rules before you know who they would help.

*yawn*

This is nothing new, felix. If you're going to deliberately misunderstand me, you can do so without my participation.

Whatever. What I don't want is for people to misunderstand the facts. If they take your statement, "From what's in the excerpts, it's an opinion piece, without much in the way of information", at face value, they will be misled, whether you own up to the misleading nature of that statement or not.

"What I don't want is for people to misunderstand the facts."

This would be easier if you would bother to point out specifically which facts you believe to be important.

And not to speak for Slarti, but by that I don't mean pseudo-facts like "the GOP stole the election" but facts like "Person X did action Y which caused Z". And if you want to be particularly convincing you could explain how Person X got action Y through all the bipartisan boards.

Sebastian, I think he means that my initial assessment of the Miller piece as being just an opinion piece is contrafactual. I don't think felix is asserting that every last thing in that piece is factual, just that it contains more than just opinion.

Correct, I am not asserting that "the GOP stole the election". I am asserting that the Harper's article contains a laundry list of factual assertions about the Ohio election that may be either true or false, but that go well beyond being an opinion piece.

I'll also assert that if the answer to all the allegations in the piece is "balloting error", we still have a big problem.

Sebastian,

Perhaps I wasn't clear. I don't like the current enforceable rules. I prefer a political method that includes enforceable rules that require the kind of fairness you describe.

It is true that people tend to live in clusters, so a mechanical rule might work. But it doesn't have to. Whether it does involves a certain amount of luck.

I think you misjudge the probabilities involved here. Once a state reaches a certain degree of one-sidedness it becomes quite difficult to get anything resembling a proportional delegation with simple rules. Massachusetts is about 40% Republican. All ten of its Representatives are Democrats. I suspect that producing a map that would even come close to giving the Republicans four seats would require extreme manipulation.

My main point, though, is this. The root of the problem of misrepresentation is that we assign people to districts which have one Representative each. This creates a natural tendency for the minority party in a state to be underrepresented, gerrymandering or not. A system of assignment that fails to take this into account will not improve the situation as much as we might imagine.

Arrow's Theorem and its kin are a real pain in the ass...

Me: Was anyone fooled?

RAL: In the 2000 election, perhaps.

Yes, of course. But, no 2000, no 2004. And of course, the man is no more interested in unity now than in 1999. Although the need is as great, if not greater.

From a policy standpoint, it seems to me that the best that can be done is a non-partisan commission, with a mandate to create sensible districts. It's not hard with the various computer programs. From a self-interested standpoint, though, I'm happy that my legislature gerrymandered my moderate Republican former congresswoman out of office, and am not interested in giving up my current moderate Dem congressman to non-partisan districting until Texas, and several other states go first. So I guess I'm basically waiting for King Bernard I.


You mean: Bernard I, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Evidence of massive, intentional efforts to manipulate the outcome from "Preserving Democracy:What Went Wrong in Ohio" (the summary of the report of the Congressional inverstigation), as excerpted in the Harper's article sited above:
1. "a wide descepancy between the availability of voting machines in Democratic areas as compared to more Republican areas" resulting excessively long waits for Democrats and fast, easy access for Republicans. Lines were, in places, six or seven hours long. The article lists some specific locations and asserts that the discrepancies were widespread, not isolated cases. Allocations come through Blackwell's office.
2. Blackwell tried to rejected legally issued voter registration forms under an outdated, obscure bylaw. Before public pressure forced him to back off "unknown numbers of Ohioans had been disenfranchised."
3. Blackwell tried to limit access to provisional ballots and had to be forced by a judge to abide by Ohio law.
4. Blackwell and the state Republican party, using a trick called "caging" tried to disenfranchise 35, 000 black voters.
The Ohio election was rife with "statistical anomalies", far too many to be explained by human error, and all of them resulting in strangly low totals for Kerry. The article gives 12 examples out of thousands documented. Here's one: In Cuyahoga County, a Democratic area, third parties historically recieving only a handfull of votes mysteriously recieved thousands. Here's another: in Butler county the Democrat running for judge got 5,347 more votes than Kerry. There are too many anomalies to explain away especially in view of the all out effort made by Blackwell and this staff to keep reporters and poll watchers away from the polls, also documented in the article.
Dirty tricks abounded. Tha article lists six specific examples out of thousands reported. here's one: the Ohio Republican party hired a group called tthe "texas Stride Force" to call people and threaten them over the phone. Here's another: Republican party worker went door to door hanging papers that false informed people that their voting place had been changed.
It is irrelvent whether or not the chicanery effected the outcome. It is irrelevent that the information was collected by a Democratic Congressional committee (except that Republicans, in the interest of good citizenship, should have been willing to be involved); the facts were checked and verified. The Republican party under Blackwell did in fact act engage in systematic chicanery to surpress Democratic votes and it seems to me that everybody should be bothered by that.

The last sentence was supposed to end "bothered by that." Please excuse the lousy proofreading. I'm getting a new glasses prescription Monday.

"a wide descepancy between the availability of voting machines in Democratic areas as compared to more Republican areas" resulting excessively long waits for Democrats and fast, easy access for Republicans. Lines were, in places, six or seven hours long. The article lists some specific locations and asserts that the discrepancies were widespread, not isolated cases. Allocations come through Blackwell's office."

How did that make it past all of the Democrats on the voting board?

BTW if you want to talk serious anomalies, can I introduce you to same day voting in Wisconsin? Flip Ohio and Wisconsin and you still get a Bush win.

This only confirms my intuition about why we can't get a bipartisan effort to do things like requiring ID and other voting safeguards--both parties believe that they cheat better than the other.

Allocations come through Blackwell's office.

Interesting. From the report:

Evidence suggests that the Board of Elections' misallocation of machines went beyond urban/suburban discrepancies...

One of these things appears to be unlike the other.

Blackwell tried to rejected legally issued voter registration forms under an outdated, obscure bylaw.

Hmmm...either they weren't legal, or Blackwell broke the law. I don't see that there could possibly be another alternative.

Here's one: In Cuyahoga County, a Democratic area, third parties historically recieving only a handfull of votes mysteriously recieved thousands.

Yes, this needs further investigation. The conclusion that votes were changed from Kerry to those third-party candidates is still unwarranted, though. There's exactly as much evidence to support the notion that voters couldn't stomach either Kerry or Bush as candidates, and chose basically none of the above. What's really tragic is that this is the state of information on the subject nine months after the fact. Given that we demonstrated in 2000 that simply discussing anomalies as if they were evidence of foul play doesn't accomplish anything at all, one would think there would be more progress, here.

Here's another: in Butler county the Democrat running for judge got 5,347 more votes than Kerry.

Again, I'd want to see some detailed analysis. If you could absolutely predict how people would vote for one candidate by how they vote for others, you wouldn't ever need to actually poll.

The Republican party under Blackwell did in fact act engage in systematic chicanery to surpress Democratic votes and it seems to me that everybody should be bothered by that.

Hmmm...Blackwell being neither the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party nor having direct control over the running of elections in any Ohio counties leaves a rather substantial hole in this assertion, one that I trust you're prepared to fill. I find it rather curious that with all this throwing of blame all over the Ohio GOP, Bob Bennett's name has not gotten a single mention. Someday the DNC talking points may get around to that, but having seen how these things work, I rather doubt it'll be anytime soon. I think the news value of a black SecState disenfranchising voters far outweighs any value held by, you know, getting to the bottom of things. Talking points win, we all lose.

Paul, if you're still out there;there being no contradiction between intelligibility and entertainment your post makes no sense,not that I anticipated much. Brush up on your cliche's.

At the risk of presenting laugh-out-loud irony: kids, please stop the bickering.

"Given that we demonstrated in 2000 that simply discussing anomalies as if they were evidence of foul play doesn't accomplish anything at all, ..."

Wow. I'll have to think about that. What I think we demonstrated in 2000 is that once the election gets officially decided - by hook or by crook - the winners simply ignore and override all complaints. How many times since then have we read: "We won, you lost, get over it"?

Given that the winners are utterly resistant to any unbiassed analysis of "anomalies" and impervious to any claims of "foul play," I'm not sure where you're going with this, other than "We won, you lost, get over it."

(I have no reason, BTW, to assume that the Democrats would have behaved significantly differently had they "won," so this is not just an anti-GOP rant, but a comment on the American political and legal process.)

What surprises me, though perhaps it shouldn't, is that you seem to accept here the proposition that _because_ a terribly flawed political and legal process does not arrive at any definitive conclusion, there's no problem, no crime. We don't personally (well, I don't) have the power to investigate "anomalies" fully; the government won't; therefore, we should just shut up and let it go. Discussing the problem "doesn't accomplish anything."

Again, I reference the OJ Simpson verdict; if that suffices for you, there's really no point in continuing any discussion.


is that you seem to accept here the proposition that _because_ a terribly flawed political and legal process does not arrive at any definitive conclusion, there's no problem, no crime.

I suggest you reread, removing a few hundredweight of preconception. Especially, reread this. Is it your opinion that in the case of Ohio, investigators are looking in the right place? Yes, I think the fact Blackwell's not been indicted means something, but that's just one piece of the puzzle and certainly doesn't mean innocence.

And yes, of course the cognizant legal authority should be doing an investigation, my comment about the House Judiciary Committee notwithstanding. I'd guess there would be grounds for investigation by both state and federal authorities. And of course it's entirely possible that what we're seeing is not the entire set of facts, simply the objectionable set brought up by the injured party. The winners, of course, aren't going to care if there were screwups that cost them votes.

We're probably never going to find out, though, because the state of Ohio doesn't seem to care all that much. What seems to matter more, to the purported wounded parties is pie-throwing and assertion of guilt without actually getting the scutwork done to determine what happened.

"We're probably never going to find out, though, because _the_state_of_Ohio_ doesn't seem to care all that much. What seems to matter more, to _the_purported_wounded_ parties_ is pie-throwing and assertion of guilt without actually getting the scutwork done to determine what happened."

OK, we agree there's something worth looking into. Whose fault is it that this has not been done thoroughly/properly? You seem to be saying that "the state of Ohio" is at fault (the entire populace?) and that "the purported wounded parties" (presumably the losers, not the winners) have the responsibility for the "scutwork" that would establish guilt (if any) beyond a reasonable doubt.

So: The *government* of Ohio has no responsibility? The GOP is fully cooperating in this investigation? The losers have all the power, the winners none? Is that (isn't that?) the implication of your comments?

Slartibartfast, please don't hesitate to correct me if I'm wrong but is you're 10:28 post directed in whole or in part at me? If so please note my earlier comments to Paul,then Paul's response. If I follow you the initial insult doesn't warrant comment but the response does. And may I ask for a explanation or example of "presenting laugh-out loud irony".

I assume Slart's irony is that he himself has been known, on very rare occasions, to indulge in throwing the odd sharp elbow himself. And as far as I can tell, he was talking to all the kids (plural), not just you.

He can, of course, correct me if I'm wrong, and if I am, I'm sorry.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad