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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Thursday, December 30, 2004


Sore Loserman?

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, December 30, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Dino Rossi refuses to concede the Washington Governor's race, arguing that there is still uncertainty about the election outcome. It's essential that we disassociate party affiliation from this issue and discuss it in the abstract:

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The night before Washington's secretary of state was scheduled to certify {REDACTED] Christine Gregoire as the governor-elect, her {REDACTED] rival Dino Rossi called for a complete re-do of the longest, closest governor's race in state history.

"The uncertainty surrounding this election process isn't just bad for you and me -- it is bad for the entire state. People need to know for sure that the next governor actually won the election," Rossi said Wednesday evening, reading from a letter he sent to Gregoire.

A revote would be the best solution for the people of our state, and would give us a legitimate governorship," the letter added.

I've redacted party affiliations in a symbolic attempt to cut through the partisan fog and address the issue: Rossi believes that the Washington election was marred by fraud.

If he's correct, he's right, there should be a re-vote, as happenned in Ukraine.

However, the threshold of proof for fraud is very high. In Ukraine, exit polls were what clued in election observers to the fraud taking place, whereas here in the US, because the early exit polls called the presidential race for Kerry, they have been discredited (unfairly) as a partisan tool. Regardless of their scientific validity, we cannot use them, pragmatically speaking (this is extremely vexing to me because exit polls are, I believe, one of the strongest checks and balances of the election process and mechanics that a free democracy can implement).

This leaves us with only audit trails, demographics, and voter complaints as indicators of fraud. Here, we can turn to Ohio to get a sense for where the bar currently lies:

audit trails: I seem to recall reading that 70% of Ohio precincts used mechanical (is, chad-based) machines. The audit process is different from Florida 2000 however because there seems to be a statewide standard for gauging voter intent based on the number of attached corners, etc. Ohio, like Washington, hs state laws that determine under what conditions automatic and m,anual recounts can be performed and who pays for them. In Ohio, the audit process turned up numerous anamolies, but nothing systematic that I am aware of that passes rigorous documentation proof of fraud. Thos eeanamolies do indicate problems with the system however which need to be addressed. The system can be badly vbroken without being fraudulent - but teh end result is the same, citizen votes are not properly counted.

demographics: the number of voting machines per capita was not consistent across the state, disproportionately fewer in heavily populated districts, which were due to the standard demographic and class considerations, the location of the bulk of the minority population (which for various well-understood reasons, predominantly vote for one party or another). Hence, the disparity in machines disproportionately inflicts a handicap on one party rather than the other. But this is not fraud either. Again it does reflect a massive problem that needs fixing, but given that the problem affects one party more than the other, it's unlikely that this will be addressed in a bipartisan manner.

voter complaints: disproportionately speaking, and far more than just population weighting would apply, voter complainst of intimidation occurred in the predominantly black precincts. The map speaks volumes:

There is clearly a systematic campaign of intimidation being carried out here which does qualify as fraud. However, this evidence of fraud is not indicative of magnitude, only pattern. Suppose the map reveals 100 incidents. Does that samplng reflect 1000, 10,000 or 100,000 incidents that went un-reported? Its impossible to know. SO we can acknowledge the evidence of fraud but cannot gauge its impact. The requirement of proof is equally high to say it was a significant effect as to say it was an insignificant effect. The burden of proof falls upon the affected party, so again its not actionable.

So, the burden of proof in Ohio for proving that fraud affcted the election outcome has simply not been met, even though clear proof of fraud does exist. This standard applied to Washington state suggests that Rossi needs to do a lot more than just talk about the "uncertainty" and the "damage" of the electoral process. If he has evidence, now is the time. Otherwise it's time to concede, and his party needs to pressure him accordingly.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.