Imagine yourself voting. Preferably on Paper.

By Risa Wechsler | November 7, 2006 1:49 am

From the Scientists and Engineers for America commercial contest, two great reminders to vote for science:

If you are interested in a little Election Day reflection on the state of voting in this fair democracy, I’d recommend checking out this HBO documentory on hacking the vote.

By the way, this won’t work for tomorrow if you don’t know already, but if you are in California, you may be interested to know that you can now become a permanent absentee voter. Makes life easier for those of us who travel all the time, and even better news, it avoids whatever newfangled vote-eating computer game your precinct might have cooked up for you.

And from SEED magazine, a bit of election-day science on what entices us to vote:

In a study conducted online the night before the 2004 election, 146 Ohio State University undergraduates were told to imagine themselves voting from one of two perspectives. Some saw themselves as a third party would—as if they were watching a movie of themselves going to the polls. Others were told to use a first-person perspective—as if they were experiencing voting through their own eyes…The study found that 90 percent of those who had visualized themselves from an outsider’s perspective reported voting, while only 72 percent of those who imagined voting from a first-person perspective did.

Anyways, Happy Election Day! Via Pharynglia, a bit of extra motivation to cast your ballot. If you’ve got a few more minutes, watch Keith Olberman’s special comment — “This country was founded to prevent anybody from making it up as they went along.” And then get yourself to a ballot box.
Here’s hoping for a real balance of power change this week.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Politics, Science and Politics
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  • Rob Knop

    I either voted, or I gave Diebold permission to tell the state who I “voted” for. I”m not really sure which.

  • spyder

    I live in WA where we vote by mail (except of course for the most populous county that is mostly Democratic and thus the GOP has slaved mightily to prevent mail voting, hoping to reduce turnout) and did so last week. After the 2004 gubenatorial election nightmare, and the handcounting of ballots (in which i participated) many citizens feel better about believing their votes are counted. This of course is not based on factual evidence since the tabulating machines are infact owned by Deibold and ECS. The state central tabulator can pretty much do whatever it wants, and unless a statewide or federal issue is closer than 1% there will be no possible recount. All a hacker need do is makes sure the tabulations are >1% and voila no possibility of recount nor recourse. Yea though we claim to live in a democratic republic, our votes belong to those who control the machines.

  • Carl Brannen

    It’s a lot easier for a corrupt party to modify a mail election than an in person election. You have no verification who it was that filled out a mail-in ballot. This fact has resulted in many dead people voting in Washington elections as has been widely reported in the newspapers here, but there is no way to tell the true depth of the problem as it is only the dead vote that is easy to detect.

    If one person votes repeatedly in a walk-in election at least they have to walk from one precinct to another. Election observers on a mail-in election have to be present at the reception of the mail for weeks or even months instead of just one day. The elections office is a partisan office filled with employees who care deeply who wins and it is the election observers that are necessary to maintain fairness. There is no way to prevent the US post office employees from accidentally or purposely influencing who gets ballots when, and how fast they are sent in — another subject of much newspaper comment in Washington state when the King County election office lied to the public about when it mailed overseas ballots, mostly to US soldiers.

    Countries that are new to Democracy know all these very obvious things and would never stand for mail-in elections. Instead, they rely on simple expedients like applying ink to people’s fingers when they vote and counting votes publicly.

  • mark

    I thought the old booths, with the curtains and the levers, were reliable, if clunky and low-tech. But I think it was one of those that gave James Cashmann only 1/2 vote in one precinct (he was one of the Dover School Board pro-ID members that got voted out last year). Which leads me to think that maybe we need even lower-tech solutions to have reliable elections (or maybe observers from third-world countries). Apparently, Jimmy Carter, in an interview following the election in Nicaragua, was asked how that election compared to American elections, and he said American procedures just wouldn’t cut it if international observers were judging them.

  • schustenberg

    I feel that the basic idea of those “scientific” electoral spots is: we are scientist, we know what is right for you. I think that everone who is really inside science would honestly adimit that being maybe “smarter” (as the spot says) than other people (and even this is at least opinable!), does not mean that we are more qualyfied than others in dealing with crucial issues such as embryo stem research. It is not “science” which must decide what is right or not to pursue…it’s a responsability of the whole society. If we -scientists- do not defend this principle you can easily see the frankenstein-ish nightmare where this path could end (as it has already ended in some circumstances of human history).


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