The real action in the Minnesota recount will be the ballots challenged by the two campaigns on the grounds that the voter intent was not properly ascertained. These challenged ballots are emerging even when the county recounts show no discrepancy with the count of the ballots successfully scanned by the machines. As I suggested in an earlier posting, this is an illustration of why the post-election audit is not an especially good predictor of what will happen in the recount. The result will be determined by looking at the ballots that the machines fail to count if they are functioning properly. (Why some of these ballots weren’t kicked back to the voters because they were overvotes is another issue to be pondered.)
If the best hunting for new votes is among the “residual votes,” then it is natural to ask whether the different parts of the state seem to be setting aside the same proportion of ballots for further scrutiny. The answer here is “no.”
Statewide, about 5% of the residual vote has ended up as a challenged ballot. Two counties that have completed their recounts have seen challenges lodged against over 20% of their residual votes: Cook (25%) and Fillmore (25%). St. Louis (21%), and Wabasha (32%) counties are also over 20%, but the recounts aren’t complete. Five counties have seen precisely zero challenges: Clearwater, Lincoln, Norman, Red Lake, and Redwood. These are tiny counties, and so we might expect that the number of challenges would be low. Nonetheless, even if the fraction of ambiguous ballots is 1% of the residual votes, then the probability that the challenged ballots in these counties would be precisely zero is very small.
It is natural to assume that the rate of challenging will vary according to who is representing the campaigns in each county. The Minnesota recount process is very orderly, but the human element is undoubtedly present, too.
Since the 2000 presidential election, the United States has been embroiled in debates about electronic voting. Critics say the new technologies invite tampering and fraud. Advocates say they enhance the accuracy of vote counts and make casting ballots easier--and ultimately foster greater political participation. Electronic Elections cuts through the media spin to assess the advantages and risks associated with different ways of casting ballots--and shows how e-voting can be the future of American democracy.
Elections by nature are fraught with risk. Michael Alvarez and Thad Hall fully examine the range of past methods and the new technologies that have been created to try to minimize risk and accurately reflect the will of voters. Drawing upon a wealth of new data on how different kinds of electronic voting machines have performed in recent elections nationwide, they evaluate the security issues that have been the subject of so much media attention, and examine the impacts the new computer-based solutions is having on voter participation. Alvarez and Hall explain why the benefits of e-voting can outweigh the challenges, and they argue that media coverage of the new technologies has emphasized their problems while virtually ignoring their enormous potential for empowering more citizens to vote. The authors also offer ways to improve voting technologies and to develop more effective means of implementing and evaluating these systems.
Electronic Elections makes a case for how e-voting can work in the United States, showing why making it work right is essential to the future vibrancy of the democratic process.
Title: Electronic Elections: The Perils and Promises of Digital Democracy
Author: Michael Alvarez and Thad E. Hall
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Call number: JK1985 .A484 2008
Prof. Charles Stewart on balance of power in Congress
New England Cable News, interview by Latoyia Edwards, November 4, 2008, video on site
"Right now, Democrats hold the majority in the House and Senate, but it's a narrow majority, and they are not filibuster-proof. Joining Latoyia Edwards with more from the Suffolk University NECN downtown Boston studio is Charles Stewart, head of the political science department at MIT."
Paul Gronke has an interesting post at Election Updates. Actually, there's a lot of great stuff there. And Charles Stewart has begun blogging there too. Be sure to check it often on Tuesday. I will.