Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Time, Energy, and Voter Fraud

I'm so deep in the bubble that I have no idea what's really happening in this election.

Oh, I have a front row seat, sort of. But my change in job title this year means that I'm doing a lot less of some stuff that I used to do - taking routine calls and waiting on routine voters - that gave me a constant opportunity to take the public pulse and temperature.

Now I'm only dealing with the extra complicated problems, and that's not a reliable enough sample set to make any judgments. It's also a bit draining, and after getting home and catching up on the day's events I have no energy left for writing (I'm really forcing this right now and I'm sure it shows.)

My only bit of wisdom: If you want a sense of how Johnson County will turn out, watch the turnout at next week's Iowa Memorial Union satellite sites (all week). That's when we'll find out what's happening with our biggest variable, young voters. The Iowa outcome is still in doubt and as I've said before, history will judge this election by the Hillary over Trump margin, and the third party, write in, and non votes don't contribute to that margin.

I'm definitely too busy to be doing any voter fraud.

Elections are once again an election issue. I'm also too busy to write much about it but I will share some good background. Let's start with my boss.

"If you look at all the facts, it has been almost proven that any voter fraud has been proven non-existent in Iowa," Weipert said Tuesday morning. "I don't understand why the candidates and campaigns are going after us...Let us run the elections, that's why we are elected."

Even without all the checks and balances, it would be really really hard to steal an election. The best piece I've seen on that comes from GOP election law attorney Chris Ashby. Read the whole thing but I'll break down the summary paragraph.

To rig an election, you would need (1) technological capabilities that exist only in Mission Impossible movies, plus (2) the cooperation of the Republicans and Democrats who are serving as the polling place’s election officials, plus (3) the blind eyes of the partisan pollwatchers who are standing over their shoulders, plus (4) the cooperation of another set of Republicans and Democrats — the officials at the post-elections canvass, plus (5) the blind eyes of the canvass watchers, too. Then you’d still have to jedi-mind trick lawyers, political operatives and state election administrators, all of whom scrub precinct-level returns for aberrant election results, and scrutinize any polling place result that is not in line with what they would have expected, based on current political dynamics and historical election results.

Point 2: In Iowa poll workers have to be very closely balanced by party - an ongoing challenge in a 2 to 1 Democratic county, but we manage (with a lot of help from the Republicans). 

#5 is most interesting to me. You'd have to know exactly where to steal, exactly how much to steal, how much to steal and exactly how much you could get away with stealing, on a statewide or nation wide scale.

If degenerate gambler Hunter Thompson were still alive he could paint the analogy: a massive point shaving scheme.

Only you have to pull it off not just in one game but across an entire Saturday college football schedule, and you'd have to beat the odds in over half the games. You'd have to know every player on every team to spot the ones with ethical weaknesses or miscellaneous vulnerability to threats. They'd have to by random chance be placed on exactly the right teams and in exactly the right positions. Leaving the analogy and going back to the point for a moment, Philip Bump in the Washington Post:

You can't predict which state will be key. If you're going to rig the vote, you need to do it in a number of places at once -- which increases the risk, complexity and number of people involved. Adding a thousand votes in Florida would have made the difference, but that's only because George W. Bush won enough votes in other states to get him close to 270. You need to be able to predict the results in every swing state, or you need to rig votes across a broad geography. That's far harder than it seems at first blush.

Back to the analogy, the mistakes would have to be small enough to escape attention. You could get away with ONE missed field goal, but not four, especially if the kicker has been flawless all season.

And you'd go in knowing that there would be a near certainty of the player being caught. So you'd have to offer considerations big enough to get them to keep their mouths shut through long jail terms and permanent unemployability.

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