Wanna play the shell game with your votes?

Now that American voters have become anesthetized to the dangers of the electronic voting machines which do not leave a paper trail, it wasn’t very surprising to read Riya Bhattacharjee’s page one story in the December 10 – 16 issue of the weekly newspaper, The Berkeley Daily Planet, informing readers that Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) Machines had been <a href = http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2009-12-10/article/34242?headline=Instant-Runoff-Voting-Machines-Approved-for-Alameda-County>OK’d for use in Alameda County</a> because for a cynical, alarmist, conspiracy theory columnist this new topic set off internal sirens and alarm bells in a major way.   Not only was Instant Runoffs (also known as ranked voting) a new concept, there were stealth indications about the possibility that “they” had found a new way to deprive Americans of their voting rights in a sneaky, underhanded, and obscure way.  Instant runoffs seemed like a major candidate for becoming “the next big thing” in the blogisphere. 

The Daily Planet story explained how the new system would give voters the chance to list candidates in a prioritized way so that the machines could anticipate any potential runoff elections and provide enough data for that expensive election result to be avoided.

With IRV people rank their selection and the machine uses the results to compute the various mathematical permutations and potential match ups of candidates in case the voting doesn’t provide a clear statistical majority winner. 

Is it possible that the machines could skew the results in favor of some predetermined winner?  Surely, advocates of the cost cutting innovation will stoutly maintain that only conspiracy nuts will worry about that and that they have engineered the system to avoid such a (theoretical) dastardly manipulation of the sacred American ritual of casting votes and expecting honest election results.

The “they” turned out to be Sequoia Voting Systems.  Aren’t they the same ones who were instrumental in producing the machinery and technology that delivered, as promised, the Ohio electoral votes to George W. Bush in 2004? 

If folks are going to be concerned about such a remote possibility is it any wonder that patriotic Republicans see Democrats as worrywart obstructionists who are only delaying the implementation of a quick easy way to cut the costs of runoff elections?

This new voting innovation can be ready for use in next year’s midterm elections but local voting officials must act quickly to implement this cost cutting new technology.  (Gee, didn’t the “act quickly” philosophy work so well with the invasion of Iraq?)

Expediency is often an integral part of a sales pitch.  You must act now!  Sale ends Sunday.  Fear, such as the possibility that during the current economic slump (Great Depression 2.0?) precious city, county, and state funds could be spent on a runoff which could have been avoided if this magical new voting machine had been approved quickly, can also be used to motivate a fast approval.

Here’s the deal:  sometime when there are a great many candidates for a particular  office, the results will not produce a clear-cut winner and the expenses of a separate subsequent runoff election must be incurred.  With ranked voting, (advocates maintain) that expense can be eliminated and save cities, counties, and or states all the money that would have been spent for a runoff election. 

As advocates of IRV see it, the Great Depression 2.0 is going on now and the nitwits who would want to delay implementing such a cost cutting innovation must be obstructionists who would accede to their greed for power and use obfuscation to hinder and delay this remarkably efficient way to speed up the process and (did I say this before?) cut costs>

(Gee, did the possible expenses involved in a recount prevent Norm Coleman from demanding one?)

Is it possible that the IRV machines could award a win, when one Republican gets all his party votes and the Democratic vote is divided up among several candidates, to someone who didn’t get a majority of all the votes?  At this point Republican advocates of this remarkable innovation might resort to muttering the old W. C. Field’s line:  “Go away, boy, ya bother me!” 

If the IRV system is implemented quickly, could it then be used to cut down on the exorbitant costs to both parties (and campaign donors) for holding long primary campaigns to earn their parties Presidential candidacy?  Once IRV is implemented on a large national level; would it be too much to then sell the suckers (whoops, that word should be voters) to use the cost saving method for a National election? 

People have already become complacent about election results that contradict extensive and well done polls that predicted different results.  What’s not to like about the possibility that such technology could be in place by 2012?  Just imagine an upset victory by Jeb and the restoration of the Bush dynasty.  Wouldn’t the Democrats feel more comfortable bitching about a Bush in the White House than they would if they had four more years of complaining about disappointments delivered a fellow Democrat?

This columnist sent a news tip about this heretofore unheard of topic to some online sites.  Neither the one devoted to the downside of electronic voting nor another one detailing  the misdeeds by liars and crooks used the tip, as far as we could ascertain.  They didn’t even send back a suggestion that a chill pill might be advisable.  

Some groups are challenging this cost cutting way of speeding up the voting process. 

Does this new method of eliminating the costly runoffs produce a paper trail?  Who knows; who cares?

“How many votes did you get?  Was it five or six?  You know in all the excitement, I kinda lost track.  Now, you have to ask yourself another question:  ‘Do I feel lucky?’  . . . Well, do ya, Democrats?”

Could the IRV machines produce inaccurate results?  The various vague answers bring to mind the old H. G. Robinson line:  “You’ll take it and like it.  See?”  Just think of all the great columns that could be written if IRV helps put Jeb in the White House.  So if you don’t like IRV; shut up, sit down, or go read a news update about Tiger Woods. 

Philadelphia native W. C. Fields has said:  “Start every day off with a smile and get it over with.”

Now, the disk jockey will play the Stones’ Street Fightin’ Man.  It’s time for us to go do some <a href = http://fgaq.blogspot.com/2009/12/omg-its-zappadan-already.html>Zappadan</a> gift shopping.  Have a “Don’t Eat Yellow Snow” type week.

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