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November 09, 2020

Comments

I think there is a lot of room to propose some guidelines/ steps. Election day moved to a weekend, made a national holiday, etc.

Especially those two ideas are absolute anathema. Bad enough that people get days off at all (the US are the only Western country that does not guarantee paid holidays for workers), an extra day would be poison for the economy. And anything that increases turnout is just a commie plot to steal elections from their right-ful winners. Remember: a republic, not a democracy.

I think there is a lot of room to propose some guidelines/ steps. Election day moved to a weekend, made a national holiday, etc.

Police and fire are still going to work. Hospitals and urgent care will be open. It will be almost impossible to get retail and food to close completely. Whenever the experts rank state voting systems for security, accuracy, ease of voting, etc, the top ranked states are almost always the vote by mail (plus vote centers) states. On the order of 25% of Americans already vote by mail. This year, >90% of votes in the 13-state West were mail-distributed ballots. As far as I'm concerned, voting is a solved problem, some people just don't like it.

Registration is a much bigger issue. Inadequate resources to do ongoing maintenance. Massive voter purges. Bugs in software, eg, statewide polling book systems crash. Everyone talks about fraud in casting ballots, a problem that is vanishingly small. Too few people talk about fraud in the registration system, particularly fraud done by the election officials.

The biggest problem with mail ballots? People not remembering what their signature on file looks like. I sure don't. Which can lead to perfectly valid ballots getting tossed.

Plus the fact that signature comparisons are seriously subjective.

The biggest problem with mail ballots? People not remembering what their signature on file looks like. I sure don't.

How do you keep track of what things you've used which signatures for? Do you have a computer file somewhere with a collection of scanned signatures and lists? That's a serious question; the idea of having different versions of my signature for different things has never occurred to me.

A couple of months back I was doing some financial thing at the bank that required me showing an actual physical Social Security card. I fetched it from the safe deposit box. I probably got it after sixth or seventh grade for some part-time job. An expert might compare it to my current signature and reject them as not matching, but they were both "Michael E. Cain" and recognizably related.

I'm 66 now, so the two signatures are separated by something over a half century.

That's a serious question; the idea of having different versions of my signature for different things has never occurred to me.

It's not about having different versions for different purposes. It's more about losing detail, depending on how fast and casually I'm signing. Sometimes, most or all of the letters are distinct. At the other extreme, you can make out my initials, but otherwise it's just a wavy line.

So, was I in a hurry at the DMV? Or was I being precise, because I remembered that the signature was going to the elections folks, too? It's been a while, and I don't recall.

P.S. My signature on my (ancient) Social Security card is likewise recognizably the same as my current (precise) signature. No change, . . . just less precision in many cases.

Haven't got a whole lot of time, but thought those on ObWi who don't routinely read the Guardian might be interested in this, by Sarah Churchwell, an American academic working in the UK. The headline is Can American Democracy Survive Donald Trump?, the person who sent it to me said there are helpful suggestions in it, and the link is:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/nov/21/can-american-democracy-survive-donald-trump

“IWON THE ELECTION!” Donald Trump tweeted in the early hours of 16 November 2020, 10 days after he lost the election. At the same time, Atlantic magazine announced an interview with Barack Obama, in which he warns that the US is “entering into an epistemological crisis” – a crisis of knowing. “If we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false,” Obama explains, “by definition our democracy doesn’t work.” I saw the two assertions juxtaposed on Twitter as I was finishing writing this essay, and together they demonstrate its proposition: that American democracy is facing not merely a crisis in trust, but in knowledge itself, largely because language has become increasingly untethered from reality, as we find ourselves in a swirling maelstrom of lies, disinformation, paranoia and conspiracy theories.

The problem is exemplified by Trump’s utterance, which bears only the most tenuous relation to reality: Trump participated in an election, giving his declaration some contextual force, but he had not won the election, rendering the claim farcical to those who reject it. The capital letters make it even funnier, a failed tyrant trying to exert mastery through typography. But it stops being funny when we acknowledge that millions of people accept this lie as a decree. Their sheer volume creates a crisis in knowing, because truth-claims largely depend on consensual agreement. This is why the debates about the US’s alarming political situation have orbited so magnetically around language itself. For months, American political and historical commentators have disputed whether the Trump administration can be properly called “fascist”, whether in refusing to concede he is trying to effect a “coup”. Are these the right words to use to describe reality? Not knowing reflects a crisis of knowledge, which derives in part from a crisis in authority.

However, the very fact that we need to ask this question helps answer it – for lying, paranoia and conspiracy are also defining features of the totalitarian societies to which American society’s resemblance is being so hotly contested. As Federico Finchelstein maintained in his recent A Brief History of Fascist Lies: “As facts are presented as ‘fake news’ and ideas originating among those who deny the facts become government policy, we must remember that current talk about ‘post-truth’ has a political and intellectual lineage: the history of fascist lying.”

Thanks, GftNC. That people happily embrace these blatant lies (and I say "embrace" because I don't accept that they all "believe" them) is among the most disturbing and telling things about all of this.

An expert might compare it to my current signature and reject them as not matching, but they were both "Michael E. Cain" and recognizably related.

The problem with signatures is that they are so amenable to bad faith arguments and they need to provide a paper trail. What is happening in Wisconsin, while not directly related to questions of signature matching, just demonstrate how things that can be taken as a reasonable measure in normal times, can be weaponized

https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/wisconsin-officials-trump-observers-obstructing-recount/article_8bc1128a-2682-5e64-ac46-c71ed4396072.html

At one recount table, a Trump observer objected to every ballot that tabulators pulled from a bag simply because they were folded, election officials told the panel.

Posnanski called it “prima facie evidence of bad faith by the Trump campaign.”

The problem with signatures is that they are so amenable to bad faith arguments and they need to provide a paper trail. What is happening in Wisconsin, while not directly related to questions of signature matching, just demonstrate how things that can be taken as a reasonable measure in normal times, can be weaponized

Yes. States "making it up as they go along" to do much larger VBM volumes like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Georgia this year, are potentially subject to a bunch of signature problems. States who plan it out in advance, build infrastructure, and train their people -- Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Hawaii, Utah -- run tens of millions of ballots through and signatures are not a problem.

One of the reasons the VBM states get put at the top of the security evaluations is that the systems are designed so that signatures can't be weaponized.

I have been pleasantly surprised this month and admit I was wrong two months ago. I figured that at least one of GA, NY, PA or MI was going to have an absolute disaster with their increased mail ballot efforts.

I have been pleasantly surprised this month and admit I was wrong two months ago. I figured that at least one of GA, NY, PA or MI was going to have an absolute disaster with their increased mail ballot efforts.

Happily, they generally had their disasters in the primaries. And they used the six months until the general election to fix the problems and get ready. The "deep state" at its best: focus on getting the job done, rather than exclusively on partisan advantage.

Newsnight just said that the GSA has just confirmed that the transition can now begin. Trump tweeted that it was at his behest, but Emily Murphy tweeted that she came to her decision "independently".

The guy lies like he breathes...

Things reached the point where the head of the GSA just looks stupid if she continues to drag her feet. GA and MI have certified. Among the remaining states, Trump would somehow have to get the EC votes in enough of AZ, NV, PA, and WI to win. The Trump campaign has never had their heart in the court fight in AZ. The SCOTUS signaled today that they're not going to overturn the PA voters. NV's state government is solidly blue.

Minor correction: Emily Murphy does not, I believe, tweet. She touted her independent judgement in her letter to Biden. Anyway, I thank any God loitering in the vicinity.

Off topic of almost anything, the new place felt like home: cooking supper, every pan and utensil was in the first place I looked, Alexa was playing Eagles' tunes, nothing was undercooked or burnt.

Welcome to Fort Fun, Michael. I miss it, sometimes.

and Trump is still pretending he has a chance. and his idiot followers are still following him.

it's amazing how he never does anything without turning it into a howling shitstorm, guaranteeing that he always looks worse after its passed.

but at least he isn't a Democrat!

Completely off topic, but I have always been curious to know where "also, too" (as often used by Snarki) comes from, but never asked. Today, I see that hilzoy tweets:

I am the sort of person who still uses Sarah Palin's "also, too", which for some unfathomable reason I find very funny.

Aha!

but at least he isn't a Democrat!

I thought it was at least he's not a Marxist...

it's amazing how he never does anything without turning it into a howling shitstorm, guaranteeing that he always looks worse after its passed.

But it gets him looked at, which is all he really cares about.

The GOP delenda est.

That's it, that's the comment

I thought it was at least he's not a Marxist...

oh lie there's a difference.

[1200 words]

harrumph.

s/lie/like/FFS

If nothing else, they’ve made shorthand more useful.

Okay, nitpicking, but none of the editors/languages that have regular expressions for manipulating strings that I've tried will accept "FFS" as a qualifier. That I plugged it into a number of them probably says something about me. As I understand the distinctions, I am both a wonk and a nerd, but only borderline on geek.

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