The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Krugman is back to being Krugman.

Sure I was rooting for Paul Krugman against Bill O'Reilly, but that's like choosing between King Kong and Godzilla; either way Tokyo is still in ruins.

Paul writes a paranoid column today in the New York Times calling into question the accuracy of Florida's NEW voting technology. (Remember the good old days of hanging chads, vote-truck motorcade's and Katherine Harris? Ah, sweet memories.) There is reason to be skeptical about Florida's new system, as it leaves no paper record of a vote, so once a vote is cast there is no effective way to do a recount (of course, I would argue that this was true in 2000 with paper ballots as well). It is susceptible to fraud and manipulation (once again...2000). There are some questions as to the quality of the software that should be addressed before the next election. Paul really goes off of the deep end in his suggestions on how to ensure a fair election:

1. Voters, too, can do their bit. Recently the Florida Republican Party sent out a brochure urging supporters to use absentee ballots to make sure their votes are counted. The party claims that was a mistake - but it was, in fact, good advice. Voters should use paper ballots where they are available, and if this means voting absentee, so be it. (Election officials will be furious about the increased workload, but they have brought this on themselves.)

This is only a good idea if you want to increase the amount of vote fraud. Paul cites his colleague Bob Herbert's column from yesterday. I will respond with my critique of said column here.

2. Finally, some voting activists have urged a last-minute push for independent exit polling, parallel to but independent of polling by media groups (whose combined operation suffered a meltdown during the upset Republican electoral triumph in 2002). This sounds like a very good idea.

This is, dare I say, Onion-esque. You want to make the actual voting, which is fairly accurate, more accurate, by using a tool that is less accurate? Exit polls are notoriously inaccurate (remember 2000?). How would this possibly help? He also writes:

And it would give an early warning if there was election tampering - perhaps early enough to seek redress.

What redress? Would we hold another vote (that would be unconstitutional)? Just substitute in the pollster numbers (stupid and unconstitutional)? What is he calling for here?

Kent Brockman, local newsman on the Simpsons, provides the answer:

Now, here are some results from our phone in poll. 95% of the people think Homer Simpson is guilty. Of course, this is just a television poll which is not legally binding. Unless proposition 304 passes, and we all pray it will.

Also, read this post by Josh Benson, guest blogging for Noam Scheiber at The New Republic.


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