Polls & Tallies

Possible Losses Paving the Way
For One Man & His Ideas to Win

From where we’re standing, we’re far from knowing what many of you already know: who’s the U.S. President. Or perhaps you know as much as we do now, 24 hours before. But whether you’re mad about or celebrating the outcome of this election, it’s almost a miracle that it’s actually produced a winner.
That’s because, as predicted with even better accuracy than the result itself, thousands across the land had to wait hours in line to vote, voting machines malfunctioned, suspicious steps were taken by election officials, and many, arguably due to the media frenzy, wound up not voting in the end.
The first sight things could go awfully wrong, or as pessimists had already declared, ‘as expected,’ came not long after results from New Hampshire’s Dixville Notch were in, a 5 to 5 dead-heat tie: Reddit Pennsylvania reader ‘centrapavote’ filmed a machine that would register votes cast for President Obama as if they were for the GOP candidate.
Other contraptions malfunctioned in Ohio precincts, while in central and south Florida, hundreds endured drizzling rain and an average of seven hours wait in line, so to cast their votes. And that may be the reasonably good news, since votes were indeed cast, and defective polling stations were put out of commission.
Much more serious, and again, from where you stand, you may have already a better view of this issue, was the unheard of decision by Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, ‘who asked voting machine giant ES&S to install last-minute, unverified, custom firmware updates on the state’s voting machines,’ according to Boing Boing.

Ohio being a ‘swing state,’ (and you thought they’d rather square dance down there, eh?) with 18 electoral votes to be earned by the candidates, two shy of the 2008 election, the move can’t be perceived as purely technical, as in, operating technical problems. It reminded everyone of Florida, circa 2000, and the less than noble job performed by state election officials who shall remain unnamed.
Since voting machines, by design, leave no paper trail to be double checked afterwards, such bad memories are not out of place. But if you think that such devices are a sight of contemporary times, and can dramatically increase the possibility of fraud in this and future elections, you probably haven’t read Harper Magazine’s How to Rig an Election story.
Writer Victoria Collier compiles a revealing dossier on election corruption, starting by 1932 ‘when Louisiana senator Huey “Kingfish” Long arranged to rig the vote on a number of amendments to his state’s constitution that would be advantageous to his financial interests.’ It goes downhill from there, of course, but it makes for an exquisitely timed read for the day.
On Truth Out, Collier follows it up with an even more disturbing story about how our media may have desensitized us so much, to make elections easy to be rigged, to begin with. With its over reporting of useless bits of information and poor coverage of real issues, while attributing equal weight to facts and dubious claims, it’s effectively obscured our ability to draw our own unbiased opinions.
Both stories beat biting your nails in front of the TV all day and all night. By the way, we hope you didn’t do that, for the sake of your own sanity. We’re probably on our way to do it, but only because we’re already damaged goods in the sleeping department, and there’s nothing better on tonight.

Back to your time, Wednesday, with so much you may be finding out only now about our electoral process, how vulnerable it’s become, and how easy it is to be tampered with, you may be a bit depressed just about now. And we haven’t even talked about ballot results. So we thought that now, after you’ve voted and there’s not much more you can do about our democracy, it’s time for some distraction.
What? You’ve had too much of it, already? That may be true but it was a distraction then, during the campaign, only because you needed to spend that time informing yourself, and not necessarily learning about the president’s tailoring choices, or a candidate’s exercising regime. Now, that’s over, remember?
For instance, you’ve certainly thought at least once about how astronauts in space would vote. For, yes, they’re not just super-athletes and rocket scientists, floating above us inside an oversized piece of thin metal. They’re also engaged citizens, and who knows, maybe some of those who’re now at the International Space Station one day may run for president too. Just like John Glenn.
So glad you’ve asked. Elementary, dear reader, as it turns out. According to NASA, ‘astronauts residing on the orbiting lab receive a digital version of their ballot, which is beamed up by Mission Control at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Filled-out ballots find their way back down to Earth along the same path.’
It makes sense, but don’t put too much weight on the word ‘beamed,’ for now. Yes, someday, they may come for a quick visit in person, materializing inside the polling station, casting their vote, and going back to whatever high-tech experiment they may be involved at the time. And no, we don’t expect all flight control officers to be named Scotty.
And finally a little bit of, you’ve guessed, trivia. A medium average of all polls have given the victory of this election to President Obama, and polls themselves have been generally accurate at predicting the winner of this kind of major election, at least since 1936, according to the better known of them all, Gallup.
With two spectacular misses, always to be invoked to keep them in perspective: in 1948, President Harry Truman made a point in taking a picture with a newspaper that reported that he had been defeated by Thomas Dewey. And President Jimmy Carter, apparently, wasn’t expected to beat Gerald Ford in 1976. But he did, and became a model to ex-presidents for his hands-on humanitarian efforts ever since.
No humanism in the costs of this presidential campaign, though: according to statistics.com, in 1992, the three presidential candidates spent $192 million in the election. Curiously, candidates could be using the same digits 20 years later, but with a 475 percent increase: $912 million. Opensecrets.org, however, projects the cost at a staggering over $5 billion, our most expensive election ever.
Just imagine how much better we could be doing with that kind of money, rather than pouring into despicable ads and junk food for thousands of unpaid interns. But that’s exactly why anyone would vote, right? So maybe there’s another day coming, when dreams and ideas won’t be so expensive to make one doubt about their ultimate validity. But that’s work that remains to be done.
In any event, and however this election turned out for you, congratulations, America. Until we come up with a better way, this is still a system that may work for the majority of us. We could wrap it all up with some inspiring, heart-warming message, but as we said, we’re speaking from your past. Today the words belong to the one who won.

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