My Latest Favorite Song #21: The Tea Party – Winter Solstice

A wonderful guitar instrumental. I have no idea who this band is, just stumbled across this track. Yes, this is just one guitar.

Dems and GOP Should be Unified in Wanting Better Elections

The GOP suddenly wants to count every legal vote. Suddenly they are aghast at all the problems in how elections are run. It warms the heart. We can see in their actions whether they are hypocrites or not. Now, they should be supportive of efforts to make things better, eh?

The Federal Election Commission is a nightmare. Decades of political appointees who seem put there mostly to gum of the works. They can’t even really operate, because they don’t have enough members for a quorum. They had a fourth member to get a quorum for a while, but….

“That changed on Tuesday when the Senate confirmed a fourth member: James E. Trainor III, a Republican lawyer from Texas. President Trump’s nomination of Mr. Trainor, who goes by Trey and who worked for the 2016 Trump campaign, marked a departure from the tradition of presidents nominating commissioners in pairs, typically from different parties.”

No, you don’t say? Trump broke the norms for naked political advantage?

“Even with four commissioners, the body may end up frequently deadlocked, given that taking action will require unanimity among the four: two Republicans, one Democrat and an Independent who largely aligns with the Democrat.”

No, you don’t say? The independent aligns with the party that cares about running elections that reflect the popular will of all the citizens?

I look forward to the newly woke GOP working with Democrats to properly lead, staff, and empower the Federal Elections Commission.

They might also partner with the Democrats to stop pretending that Russian interference didn’t happen and isn’t ongoing. They might also pass some bills that improve the situation.

And let’s throw in a rant about voting machines. The USA should develop it’s own code around voting. This is largely a solved technical problem. Getting votes so that they are all counted properly, all anonymous, but verifiable, this can be done. This is exactly where a government agency should be developing these algorithms and technology as a shared resource for the entire country. Failing that, they should force the big companies (Diebold) to make their code public and peer-reviewed.

This is a wonderful opportunity for both major parties to improve elections even more. If the GOP fails to do so, it just further displays their election hypocrisy.

At the deKalb Recount

I spent yesterday and today as an observer at the deKalb county recount*. A few random observations:

The system is very good. Every step has multiple independent workers who check each others work. Each part is checked and cross-checked in a few different ways. There is simply no way for anyone to commit meaningful fraud anywhere in this part of the system. If there is fraud it is either far upstream (e.g. hacking the voting software, creating thousands of fake ballots) or downstream (e.g. hacking the counting software).

It’s one thing to see on TV that deKalb early and mail-in voting was predominantly Biden. It’s another thing to see a huge stack of Biden ballots next to a pitiful pile of Trump votes.

The Democrats and Republicans have common interest in this phase. Both sides want to be assured that all the rules are followed properly and a credible count is produced that everyone can believe. And for the most part, all observers followed the rules faithfully. GOP observers were definitely more zealous than the Democrats. Although most were fine, there were a few GOP bad actors. These came in two varieties. First was the kind who continually broke the observation rules, harassing and interfering with the counting, in the hopes of starting an incident. The second was the kind who came in determined to find fraud that they simply knew was there already, and was incensed at their inability to find it, which simply made them angrier and more certain of the fraud. Both kinds were jerks, but not more than that. (The GOP observers also seemed less trained on what the proper process was, and the rules for monitors.) During my shifts it never got bad enough that they were kicked out, but there were several expelled in other shifts and in other counties.

There were monitors from the Democrats, the Republicans, the Carter Center, the ACLU, even the Constitution Party. Sometimes it seemed like there were monitors than workers.

COVID precautions were very good. Masks and face shields were given to everyone. Informal gatherings were quickly broken up for social distancing. Multiple medical personnel circulated.

This is the first federal election the Carter Center has been involved with. They are hoping to serve as a credible 3rd party that everyone can believe in. Good luck, but it’ll never happen!

Congratulations to deKalb county. They recounted over 370,000 ballots by hand in a day and a half. That’s quite an achievement. I left feeling very positive about Democracy in Georgia.

* Technically it is not a recount. Since the original counts haven’t yet been certified, they aren’t counted, and so can’t yet be recounted. This is an audit, but every vote cast is being manually re-counted, rather than a sample.

Florida was Almost a Stolen Election

Trump took Florida by 375,000 votes. Florida illegally disenfranchised about 1.5 million ex-felons.If that hadn’t happened, what would have been the impact?

The voting rate among ex-felons is around 30% (better sources welcomed). Let’s goose that to 35% given the high participation rates in this 2020 election. That’s 525,000 voters.

How do they vote by party? It seems to be around 70% for Democrats. Let’s say 80%, again given the particulars of this 2020 election. That leads to a net of 315,000 votes that should have been in Biden’s column.

315,000 is less than 375,000, so I wouldn’t say Florida was stolen. And the input numbers aren’t very solid. This also doesn’t recognize that it was possible for felons to vote, just crazy difficult for many of them. So, there may have been a good number of ex-felon voters already.

Still, the impact likely bring the results of the Florida count within 100,000. Since 1996, the Democratic party has won the popular vote four of their last eight elections. (I am including 2000. The Supreme Court travesty aside, Gore was clearly the voters choice.)

If nothing else,Florida is not a red state. It’s very purple.

Trumps Voting “strategy” is Immoral… and stupid.

On the day before the election, my thoughts go back six months. The Democrats had proposed a stimulus package for COVID-19 that included many provisions to maintain and improve voting systems during the pandemic. Trumps response:

“The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

The predominant reaction from the center and left was, omigod, he just gave away the game. He said it out loud finally – the GOP suppresses the vote because they can’t win unless they do.

My reaction is a bit different. Let’s go back four years, when the GOP made a choice to stand for positions in the minority. After the 2012 Romney loss to Obama, they did an well-known autopsy report. They understood that in order for them to win, they needed to (among other things) moderate their position on immigration and reduce the tolerance for racism within the party. Instead chose a different path, of doubling down on anti-immigration and anti-minority speech and policy. It was a foolish strategy. It was not a strategy at all, it was the radicalized base defying the more sensible parts of the party. And it certainly would never have worked if Trump hadn’t been fortunate enough to be running against the hated Hilary Clinton.

Now here we sit four years later. Trump got worse and worse on everything the GOP took from their 2012 shellacking. And when Trump can’t get enough voters to win on policy, he doesn’t think about changing policies. The policies are the given to him. What is not a given is voting rights. Rather than fight for policies the majority of the country supports, he chooses to fight instead against the law and Democracy.

I wonder if he ever made the choice consciously. I wonder if he even considered for five minutes how easy it would be to get re-elected if he would simply do what Americans asked him to do. I don’t think he ever thought about it. His policies are the given. Voting rights are not.

(I have used Trump and the GOP interchangeably here. In this regard, they are the same thing.)