Thursday, October 19, 2006

Here's how Americans are stupid

Americans apparently are finally catching on to the fact that power corrupts, and that Congresspersons are no exception. Wow, aren't we brilliant. (As an aside: only half???)

In the same article linked above, Americans also think, apparently, that electronic voting is going to lead to inaccurate results. Excuse me?

Here you have polls showing, within paragraphs of each other, both that 1) Americans believe (correctly) in the existence of severe human error when it comes to politics, and that 2) these same Americans apparently would rather have fallible, butterfingered, eyesight-challenged, tired humans counting their votes than efficient, objective, morally incorruptible machines. Um?

This is why I don't like people.


At October 19, 2006 at 1:27 PM, Blogger DarthImmortal said...

You nailed this right on the head; people are extremely stupid. There are a few exceptions but those are rare. Good post!!

At October 19, 2006 at 1:47 PM, Blogger T said...

One word - Diebold.

I would trust error prone but overall honest people far more than electronic voting machines which have already been demonstrated to be hackable - and in some cases, the software that was certified for use by the state was substituted for other software (texas?). Has Diebold stolen elections? I have no idea - but this is about trust. I don't *trust* Diebold not to steal elections, whereas, I trust the current paper hardcopy.

And there is one overriding reason why - with a paper record, you can go back and count them again. With Diebold, the change may have already been made before it was recorded on paper, if it even does get recorded on paper - as not all jurisdictions (I believe) require a hard copy record. And don't get me started on the memory cards they use.

People may be stupid - but I think too much trust in technology isn't particularly intelligent either.

At October 19, 2006 at 2:01 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

darth, thanks. People irritate me. Stupidity irritates me. Actually, really, one of my current cases is irritating me, but that's neither here nor there :)

t, I have to confess I'm completely unfamiliar with Diebold. It sounds like this was some kind of scandal? If people can hack into these systems, that's a problem... but election corruption is certainly nothing new. I lived in the great city of Chicago for three years, and many a native Chicagoan has told me the city's voting motto: vote early, and vote often. Corruption could conceivably happen with people or machines (if the machines fall into the wrong hands) but on balance, I trust my computer to correctly record my vote better than a hanging chad and bored election volunteer. That's just me.

At October 19, 2006 at 3:00 PM, Blogger T said...

There is a round up of Diebold security flaws here:

There is also a recent article in wired about ways to fix current flaws:,71957-0.html?tw=wn_index_13

At October 19, 2006 at 5:30 PM, Blogger Micah said...

Just wait until the machines become self-aware*. Think "President Bicentennial Man" and "Vice President A.W.E.S.O.M.E.-0" are unfathomable? Think again, my friend.

*Man, that is the third time in two days that I've used that phrase.

At October 19, 2006 at 6:26 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

well, micah, fortunately I live in Kully-FOH-niya. I think I'm safest here.

as for the multiple deja vu, perhaps you have a bit of prophet in you. I don't suppose you've been drawing visions of a major explosion in New York?*

* disclaimer lest the humorless Feds be monitoring my blog: it's a reference to a TV show. I'm not a terrorist!

At October 19, 2006 at 7:22 PM, Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

Only this, when there are so many other reasons?

And they all vote and breed. What's wrong with this picture?

At October 19, 2006 at 8:40 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

heart, you got me.

What can I say, we lawyers look for simple answers ;)

At October 23, 2006 at 5:57 PM, Blogger Micah said...

No, but I am prone to blackouts and when I awake there is bloody carnage all around me. And I'm a webcam stripper with a kid named Micah...weird.

At October 24, 2006 at 12:35 PM, Blogger Andy said...

Oh dear, Ms. don't understand why people are opposed to electronic voting? Based on the horror stories I've heard, I'll take a bleary eyed election worker examining my hanging chad over an electronic machine any day.

The anomalies in Ohio in 2004 were really frightening. There were precincts that recorded more votes than there are registered voters. There were precincts that showed 98% voter turnout, which is laughably improbable. (Those were in Republican districts.) In many precincts, the official vote tally was radically different than the exit polls, which according to elections experts is highly unusual -- and the discrepancies always favored Republicans.

Electronic voting sounds good for a variety of reasons, but until they fix the security flaws, no thanks.

At October 25, 2006 at 9:31 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

micah, that's crazy (and a little narcissistic). I heard some random Japanese guy tracked you down from your webcam and came to your house the other day. And that your jailbird husband's trying to track down you and your son. Man, I don't know how you put up with that.

andy, I'll have to look into the Ohio elections, since I don't know much about them. But if it's just an issue of election corruption... I don't know, I think that people can and do interfere with any process. I just think that, on balance, there's no inherent reason to favor manual vote-counting over electronic recording. I suspect an availability heuristic was playing into the responses in the poll and I don't think that's the most logical way to look at things. Where there are loopholes in the system, those absolutely need to be fixed. And people who perpetrate election fraud ought to go to federal prison for a minimum of five years. But I don't think that the fact that corruption can affect electronic voting is something that gives manual voting an edge -- corruption happens in manual voting all the time (and I take it that, given the reference to favoring Republicans, the concern here is corruption). Again, I haven't studied this seriously, but unless corruption is significantly harder to fight with electronic voting, I think that it should generally be favored.

Although, as micah points out, this may have the unintended effect of making us the machines' slaves someday.


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