November 2, 2004

Arcane Gazebo vs. Diebold

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at November 2, 2004 9:51 AM

I went to vote around 9:15. The line was about 15 deep, but no one was waiting by the time I finished, so maybe I came at the end of the morning rush. I was offered a choice between a paper or electronic ballot, and my curiosity about the latter overcame my suspicion of it. So I put the access card in the machine and right away I get an error; the poll worker hadn't reset the card properly. Once I got this straightened out, I was able to vote without much trouble. I did notice that it's really easy to select the wrong option on these touch-screens; it's not hard to change it, but I expect this kind of voter error is pretty high. That combined with the technical wrinkles (in addition to my card problem, one of the machines had to be rebooted while I was there) makes me think that this technology isn't worth it.

The best part about voting in California is the "I voted" stickers:

Of course I had a sweater on over that shirt while at the polling place.


Yeah, the I voted stickers rock. ;) Hey, did you see that site andrew tannenbaum is the votemaster for? Very interesting representation of the current poll numbers and stuff. So why did you have a sweater on over that shirt? The letters were too faded? Or you're not allowed political shirts in a polling place?


Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 1:25 PM

Oh yeah, I voted at Chandler Dining Hall. ^^ Other than the people running the voting, it wasn't bad. The people running the polling place were mostly older men/women and were somewhat hard of hearing and extremely impatient with my questions, even though there wasn't really any line (at 1:05pm or so). Oh well, I still voted and all. It was some ink-based system, seemed to work well though occasionally it took a few tries to get the ink to dispense fully.

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 1:32 PM

You mean That's a terrific site. I also like Pollkatz's poll tracking, but he doesn't update as often and his electoral vote forecasting model is sufficiently complicated that I don't really trust it.

I'm pretty sure that campaign materials are prohibited from 100 feet (or something like this) from the polling place, hence the sweater. Also, it was slightly cold out. :)

Glad to hear LA County went to the optical scan system rather than the touch-screen machines. We actually had some young poll workers at my location, I assume due to the high density of youth activists in this town.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 2, 2004 1:48 PM

Yep, that's the site. Looks like it's having some difficulties today, but still coming up at least.

Makes sense on the sweater, then. :) I saw a few people wearing kerry/edwards buttons around campus, but not necessarily at the polling place. The ink system seemed pretty good, it was simple to use, you just punched it again if the ink didn't fill completely and it was so much better than say, filling in circles completely by pencil. I just wish the poll workers had been more helpful, I was a bit nervous about voting and had questions. (Nervous considering last time I voted was something like 4 years ago and I recalled nothing of the process.)

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 2:20 PM

The Absentee Ballot was very straight forward. From what I saw of other state ballots, it seemed very easy to make an error.
I did, however, get two ballots separately mailed and addressed to me on the same day- my faith in this process is not very strong. But, at the very least, Rudy Giuliani will stop calling me now.

Posted by: Vanessa | November 2, 2004 6:21 PM

I voted early by touchscreen a week before Saturday while I was in LA for my 10 year high school reunion. The entire time spent include waiting in line was like 10-15 minutes. People around Atlanta have had it worse---it serves them right for how they're voting. (I actually overhead a math staff member say 'Good for him!' referring to Zell going with the Reps even though he's a Democrat!) The torrential rain we've been experiencing tonight also serves them right. I am waiting for the full-blown cataclysm. Of course, I'll have a great difficulty proving that that wasn't caused by the Red Sox winning the World Series.

By the way, I have charisma check type results from my high school reunion (technically a continuation of something from several months ago).

I need to move to a more civilized state. You're right that we should have let Georgia secede. (Actually, after seeing old friends at my high school reunion, I'm also feeling exceptionally homesick at the moment.)

Posted by: Mason | November 2, 2004 7:36 PM

Yes, of course. The key to making the world a better place is to move away from people who disagree with you.


It's like America is a human body, and everyone is convinced that it's dying of cancer.

Their solution thus far has been to praise the shit out of the parts of America that don't have cancer and ignore the parts that are cancerous.

To quote Team America: World Police, "Jesus Tittyfucking Christ."

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2004 11:04 PM

But isn't the point of having a federation of states that people can move to the state whose policies they prefer? If Mason were proposing to leave the country that would be one thing, but he just wants to move to a part of the country where people don't want to teach the Bible in public schools, and don't fly proudly the flag of a treasonous armed rebellion against the United States. Which seems reasonable.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 3, 2004 7:54 AM

To clarify, I don't propose to make the world a better place. I propose to make my own life happier and more pleasant. (I wear the red robes, by the way.) In fact, there was no statement in my comment that went beyond my selfish desires.

Also, I identify myself with my comments. It's not like I know you anyway.

Posted by: Mason | November 3, 2004 8:25 AM

If you don't know me anyway, then why do you care if I identify myself or not? Jesus tittyfucking Christ, man.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 8, 2004 11:44 PM

Also, I think the point of the Federation of States has more to do with the idea of government being able to work on a small enough scale to represent the individual in a given area that has different needs than any other given area. That's why we rebelled against England in the first place: their empire had grown so huge that they forgot about the fringe and just allowed the heart to have a say.

That doesn't mean that everyone should have to move to get the better of their ways, it means that wherever you live you have an opportunity to change the minds of those you disagree with on an individual level. If you just cop out by moving to a place where people agree with you, that's the same as George W. Bush, Bill Gates, or George Lucas... surround yourself with "yes" men that will agree with you no matter what, and tell you you're right with God or whatever, so you can feel justified in your actions.

Now since this is bourne out of selfish reasons, I can understand that sentiment, but the argument of taking the easy way out of fixing the world out of the top percent of the intellectual society coming from places like Caltech and Berkeley is bad enough, let alone TALKING about how shitty the world is and yet doing nothing about it. Just babbling to people who will agree with you gets you nowhere, and everyone who just says "Yeah, I'm going to (insert democratic state or socialist country here)!" is either irresponsible for not having the courage to stand up and fight for their beliefs or unable to establish a strong position for those beliefs.

There was a rally at my school against Bush. About 100 people showed up, 25 of which were anti-rally pro-Bush. All they did was talk for an hour about how they could change the world, asked people to join a fucking listserv, and then dispersed.

If you've got great ideas like this rally, you're taking the same damn tactic. Finding a nice, cozy spot where people won't disagree with you. As for those that will disagree with you, you'll brand them as idiots and bigots who betray the norms of common logic, which has absolutely nothing to do with intellectual debate, because it's labelling them to be the devil.

And while I don't believe in the Bible, I believe one unintentional true lesson from it is that you can't fight the devil and win. Labelling something as indiscriminately evil and corrupt is sabotaging your own platform by accusing someone rather than standing for anything in particular. It's not a strategy to win the war, it's a cowardly attempt to surround yourself with people who will assure you that you're right so that you can turn a blind eye to everything that's going wrong in the war.

If you're going to take spout some political rhetoric you heard on TV or read in your socialist or republican paper, you'd better be fucking prepared to fight for it. You might start by trying to convince dissidents of your side rather than making sure everyone on your side agrees with you.

I don't know if that makes sense to you, but it makes sense to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 8, 2004 11:58 PM


if "the point of having a federation of states [was] that people can move to the state whose policies they prefer", there'd still be slavery in the South, because everyone who wanted to fight for emancipation would have gone north, and everyone who wanted to keep african whipping boys would have gone south with those who didn't have the strength to fight back.

And if that was the point, and the South seceded, then there would be North USA and South USA, because the northern states would have just been glad to be rid of the collection of states they disagreed with.

The founding of America was not based on the path of least resistance, no matter how you slice it. It's easier to think of it that way, but it's easier for us in our wealthy situations (even if you're poor in America, compared to the rest of the world you're wealthy), to think of the U.S. that way, because it lends to us not having to think about fighting against atrocities in our home country and settling for just condemning those atrocities.

Posted by: anonymous | November 9, 2004 12:21 AM

I think you're right, that for a truly moral issue like slavery one should try to change things for the better everywhere rather than just accepting a "states' rights" view that allows states to adopt arbitrarily repugnant policies. Slavery is sort of an unfortunate example in that changing people's minds through peaceful discussion wasn't successful; in the end, emancipation had to come at gunpoint.

Are there issues today where there is a moral imperative to work for change across the country? I would say that gay rights is such an issue (and on the other side, the pro-life movement would say similar things about outlawing abortion). Now, since I'm passionate about gay rights, it wouldn't make sense for me to move to a gay-friendly state like Massachusetts out of disgust for my own state passing a gay marriage ban (which California did in 2000). In that sense, you're right that I can do more good by staying here and trying to change things. On the other hand, I think there are also situations where I might be justified in moving out of state because of the policies: suppose I was gay, and wanted to get married; then I would argue that I would be justified in moving to Massachusetts, since I would be personally harmed by California's policies. To choose an even more extreme example, no one would argue that Jews who left Germany in the 1930's should have stayed and tried to change people's minds.

I'm not saying that any of this is how Mason feels about moving out of Georgia; he has his own opinions. But this is how I feel about when it is or isn't appropriate to leave one's home state for a more welcoming one.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | November 9, 2004 3:05 PM
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