How do we know the validity of election results? This is a question a lot of people have spent a lot of time thinking about. The Democracy Program at the Carter Center has been monitoring elections for years. It has always seemed like a problem in developing countries, but not in the United States. Then, the results of the Presidential Election in the United States, especially in 2000, but also in 2004 have raised questions about validity of elections here. How reliable are voting machines, especially as they become more and more computerized black boxes?
Here in Connecticut, we’ve had our first election since the old voting lever machines have been decertified? How successful were these elections? How reliable are the new voting machines?
The Greenwich Citizen reports of an RTM race in Greenwich where the results were changed as a result of someone noticing suspicious results and getting a recount. In an email about the results, Kathy Dopp, Executive Director of The National Election Data Archive wrote:
Human errors are inevitable in any field - including in voting machine ballot programming. The reversal of the initial machine counts in
Greenwich is evidence of the success of Connecticut's voting systems, the willingness of CT's election officials to reveal and correct mistakes, and the benefit of CT's routine manual audits (hand counts) of its machine-counts.
In many other states, unless there is a costly election contest paid for by a losing candidate, errors in machine counts go undetected and incorrect candidates are sworn into office without anyone being the wiser.
Voters in CT are fortunate to know that their votes will be accurately counted.
I think this sums things up pretty nicely, and sets my frame of mind as I head off to observe the audit results of the election. The Connecticut Citizen Election Audit Coalition is observing the audit which goes on today, through December 12th. It still isn’t too late to get involved and observe an audit in process.
If it wasn’t for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I might have taken today off and not put up a blog post. But, there is something beneficial about trying to be disciplined in writing, so here is my blog post. It is a collection of random things, of which there are plenty this Thanksgiving weekend.
NaBloPoMo takes its inspiration from National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I wrote my 50,544 word first draft of a novel during the first 18 days of November. I haven’t gone back to start editing it yet. I will start that soon enough. Miranda is back in town for the weekend. Today, she went into New York City to see old friends from camp. She is bringing copies of her novel, Subtle Differences which she wrote last year and published at Lulu press. She will then visit some old friends from school this evening and show them the novel. (If you haven’t gone out and gotten a copy of her novel, please do.) Today’s New London Day has an article about Connecticut participants in NaNoWriMo.
For developments in the Avery Doninger case, I received to emails today. One is the brief that was filed by the defendants. I haven’t read it yet, but people close to the case who have read it suggests that it lacks verisimilitude. Over at the Cool Justice Report, Andy Thibault has an article about Paula Schwartz’s vacation to Aruba postponing an FOI hearing. In other Connecticut news, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz sent out an email today talking about the success of the “first general election since lever voting machines were decertified in July 2007”. The email also listed the candidates that will be in on the Democratic primary ballot, “Joe Biden; Hillary Clinton; Chris Dodd; John Edwards; Mike Gravel; Dennis Kucinich; Barack Obama; Bill Richardson”
A lot has been going on in Second Life as well. On Monday, I wrote about the latest banking scandal in Second Life. I’ve watched the stock price of LNL fluctuate, and have been buying on the dips. As a general rule, when bad news comes out, people sell in a frenzy. The price drops, and then when people find the news isn’t as bad as everyone feared, the price bounces back. We still don’t know how bad the news about LNL really is, but the price has started to come back and today, Tyrian Camilo wrote a long blog post about the banking scandal and how he dealt with it for his bank.
Also in Second Life, Xavier Mohr announced he was stepping as CEO of Second Life Reports. This brought about a lot of volatility in that stock.
Yet most of my day has been spent dealing with family stuff. It started off by driving Mairead and her friend, Lauren, who is visiting for Thanksgiving to the train station. Then, I dropped Miranda at a friend’s house so she could begin her travels. Next stop was Dick and Leanne’s house. I updated some firmware on my brother-in-law’s computer, tweaked Kim’s phone so she can send text, pictures and videos. Then, it was time of an extended family hike. You can see pictures on my Flickr account.
So, while I haven’t had a lot of time to think out a post shedding any great insights, I’ve sure got a lot of random things to talk about on this day after Thanksgiving.
Recently, I saw a Facebook status update that said, “Arielle Reich is www.danmalloy.com”. It got my curious and I went to look at www.danmalloy.com. It redirected to a Wordpress blog which is described as “a forum for discussing progressive solutions for Connecticut's future.” The most recent post on the blog was written by Arielle. There is no ‘Paid for by…” line at the bottom of the pages and the contributors are people who are contributing posts, instead of money. The lists includes former members of Mayor Malloy’s campaign staff, as well as union and elected officials. It isn’t a campaign site, right now, but it is a wise move. Get people in the habit of coming to your site. Build the traffic. The problem, however, is that since it redirects to a Wordpress site, it doesn’t really do anything to boost traffic rankings in Google or other systems.
So, I thought I would look to see what other possible candidates for elections after 2008 might be doing. www.nedlamont.com remains an active site. There is a recent post about Ned’s trip to the Middle East. It retains a high Google Page Rank rating, but is only getting minimal traffic.
George Jepsen, who has been making the rounds of notable Democratic events still has his domain, which was originally registered in 1999. However, it is due to expire later this month. The domain does not currently point at an active server. I’ve spoken with George and the domain isn’t going to expire and he’s thinking about what his website should have going forward.
At first glance, it appeared that Dick Blumenthal hadn’t registered a domain. DickBlumenthal.com is currently available. Dick had better grab it soon, before someone else does. However, www.richardblumenthal.com is registered. The registration was updated last month but the website is listed as ‘Coming Soon.”
Susan Bysiewicz, who, like Dick and George is a regular at Democratic events, has not grabbed the site SusanBysiewicz.com That might be because too few people know how to spell her last name.
John DeStefano’s domain is still registered. It expires February 2008. Like many of the other sites, it is ‘Under Construction’.
Also on the list is Audrey Blondin. Her website, www.AudreyBlondin.com still points to her 2006 Secretary of State run. Audrey is clearly interested in the Secretary of State position if Susan decides to run for another office, and keeping the old site as is, is probably a good move.
Mayor Malloy and Ned Lamont are being smart in keeping alive their presences online. Will other potential candidates do the same? It will be interesting to see.
For months, Kim and I have talked about watching Michael Moore’s documentary ‘Sicko’, but never gotten around to it. When it first came out, we invited various State Reps near where we lived to come see it with us. They all declined. Perhaps they were embarrassed about having failed to pass meaningful healthcare reform last session. They should be.
What got us to do it this time, was Democracy for America holding Sicko Houseparties. We didn’t try as hard to invite State Reps to attend this time. We had too many other things going on. We did managed to contact one State Rep, who did not attend.
Yet we ended up crowding between 15 and 20 people in our living room to watch Sicko, to discuss healthcare reform, and to join in a conference call with Michael Moore. The group ended up being a lot of the same old activists that we met when Dr. Dean was trying to get Americans to focus on healthcare reform during the 2004 Presidential campaign.
One new face to me was Paul Wessel. He is a campaign organizer for www.healthcare4every1.org. He spoke about efforts here in Connecticut and former Speaker of the CT House Irv Stolberg offered insights into the legislative process.
If you haven’t watched Sicko yet, please do. If you haven’t signed up on healthcare4everyone1.org, please do. Most importantly, find time to talk with friends, family and neighbors about the importance of meaningful healthcare reform.
(Cross-posted at MyLeftNutmeg)
Last Thursday, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, sponsored a discussion at Quinnipiac University School of Law concerning “The State of Student Free Speech”, particularly as it relates to the Avery Doninger case. I grew up in Williamstown, MA, and frequently would go to events at Williams College, so it was great to see Avery at the discussion, following the topic at least as well as many of the law school students there.
The discussion started off with a welcome from Brad Saxton, Dean of Quinnipiac Law. This was followed by a great exposition of the issues by Professor Emeritus Martin B. Margulies. Prof. Margulies has followed the case closely, having filed an amicus brief in the initial hearing as part of the Connecticut ACLU, and for the hearing before the Second Circuit, as a member of the American Constitution Society.