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-   -   Florida recount (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=865415)

nelliebly 11-11-2018 10:11 PM

Florida recount
 
According to CNN, Palm Beach County officials are now saying there's no way they can finish the recount by Thursday's deadline, which will, according to Palm Beach county GOP chair Michael Barnett, put the GOP in very good position because their candidates are ahead. Not completing the recount means the Florida secretary of state would determine whether to certify the results as they are,. The Florida Sec. of State, Ken Detzner, is GOP.

It's deja vu all over again.

Why would a state have a recount deadline that can't be met?

Jonathan Chance 11-11-2018 10:48 PM

There'll be a law suit. You can time that one with a stop watch. Might even end up back and the Supreme Court.

Beckdawrek 11-11-2018 10:55 PM

Jesus H. Christ, this 2018 why can't they have a system that works? There's seriously something wrong in Florida politics. This is really over the line. The Fed needs to send people down there to monitor elections.

voltaire 11-11-2018 10:59 PM

The key now is whether or not they're forced to stop recounting, even if it's after the deadline and won't be accepted without some future ruling otherwise.

voltaire 11-11-2018 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beckdawrek (Post 21317749)
Jesus H. Christ, this 2018 why can't they have a system that works? There's seriously something wrong in Florida politics. This is really over the line. The Fed needs to send people down there to monitor elections.

There are such piddly problems everywhere, but there are not many counties in the US as crucial in a swing state as the contiguous counties of Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, which have a larger (very Dem heavy) population than the rest of the state combined. Problem is, the state capitol is up north and has been historically dominated by Republicans.

Let's just say the instinct to disenfranchise the "center of resistance" that is South Florida was on full display with the predictable venomous reactions from Scott and Desantis.

scr4 11-11-2018 11:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beckdawrek (Post 21317749)
Jesus H. Christ, this 2018 why can't they have a system that works?

Because there are people who benefit from disenfranchising a subset of voters?

UltraVires 11-11-2018 11:52 PM

This is a machine recount? They did this in a matter of hours on election night. Why does it matter that they are counting three races instead of one?

I thought after the 2000 debacle, Florida went to electronic voting.

Kolak of Twilo 11-11-2018 11:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scr4 (Post 21317789)
Because there are people who benefit from disenfranchising a subset of voters?

Agreed. Because there are people (the GOP) who benefit from disenfranchising a subset of voters (minorities and those who will vote for Democrats).

Of course, as the usual contingent of (supposed) lawyers will tell us, this is perfectly okay because it is legal.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beckdawrek (Post 21317749)
Jesus H. Christ, this 2018 why can't they have a system that works?

Mostly for no other reason than because it is Florida. Any other state that has gone through the bullshit Florida has with counting votes over the last 18 years would have taken action.

Florida is a synonym for dysfunction.

voltaire 11-12-2018 12:07 AM

They have taken action, they have gone electronic or Scantron, there are no chads.

galen ubal 11-12-2018 12:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UltraVires (Post 21317812)
This is a machine recount? They did this in a matter of hours on election night. Why does it matter that they are counting three races instead of one?

I thought after the 2000 debacle, Florida went to electronic voting.

No, they have paper ballots - fill in the oval type. Scantron, I think it's called.

As for why it's taking so long, that CNN article linked to above says that volunteers in Pam Beach County are using eight machines. Another CNN article here shows the by county vote count in Florida for Senate in Palm Beach county - a combined total of 588,562 votes. So over four days, each machine will have to count almost 18,400 votes, or 766/hour.

Someone can check my math here, please.

boytyperanma 11-12-2018 12:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beckdawrek (Post 21317749)
Jesus H. Christ, this 2018 why can't they have a system that works? There's seriously something wrong in Florida politics. This is really over the line. The Fed needs to send people down there to monitor elections.

The people who remain in control, benefit from a broken system, so it is working as intended. If it started to benefit Democrats, they'd want to change it.

UltraVires 11-12-2018 12:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by galen ubal (Post 21317835)
No, they have paper ballots - fill in the oval type. Scantron, I think it's called.

As for why it's taking so long, that CNN article linked to above says that volunteers in Pam Beach County are using eight machines. Another CNN article here shows the by county vote count in Florida for Senate in Palm Beach county - a combined total of 588,562 votes. So over four days, each machine will have to count almost 18,400 votes, or 766/hour.

Someone can check my math here, please.

My point was that they were able to run all of these ballots through the machine on election night in a matter of hours. Why can they not just do the same process again in the next four days?

voltaire 11-12-2018 12:38 AM

Surprise, it takes longer for the most populated counties to gather and count (and even longer to recount) all their votes than it does for the low population counties to do so. For obvious reasons, there will be more problems and any problems will involve larger numbers and will be even more amplified during any close, important elections. That the most populous counties are Democratic leaning just makes it both natural and convenient for the desperate attempts to disenfranchise them to the greatest extent they can get away with.

Again, Florida state politics is and has been absolutely dominated by Republicans, yet there are many more Democrats living in Florida than there are Republicans, which would have no chance at all if all the Democrats actually voted and had those votes counted. Florida has a lot of electoral votes and they're up for grabs. That's all the plot you really need to know to guess the whole story.

voltaire 11-12-2018 12:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UltraVires (Post 21317857)
My point was that they were able to run all of these ballots through the machine on election night in a matter of hours. Why can they not just do the same process again in the next four days?

Because for both undervotes and overvotes, they have to check each ballot by hand to determine the problem that caused the aberration.

galen ubal 11-12-2018 12:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by voltaire (Post 21317866)
Because for both undervotes and overvotes, they have to check each ballot by hand to determine the problem that caused the aberration.

Not sure about that - I think that belongs with the manual recount that would be triggered if the machine recount is within X%*

In the video linked to in the first post, the anchor asks the same question UltraVires does. The reply is that each election must be segregated from the others, a much more "laborious process". Go to about 1:40 for the reporter's explanation. (So I don't have to retype it.... :D)
Basically, it boils down to having to do three independent recounts - one each for Senate, Governor, and Agriculture Commissioner.

*.2%?

voltaire 11-12-2018 12:53 AM

That's both true and different than what I'm talking about. Close elections have automatic recounts, but particular ballots with particular aberrations (undervotes, overvotes, signature mismatch, etc.) have to be inspected manually.

galen ubal 11-12-2018 01:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by voltaire (Post 21317882)
That's both true and different than what I'm talking about. Close elections have automatic recounts, but particular ballots with particular aberrations (undervotes, overvotes, signature mismatch, etc.) have to be inspected manually.

Indeed they do, but only in a manual recount.
Quote:

Optical scan ballots and hybrid voting system paper outputs: The canvassing board must run each ballot with the affected race(s) through tabulator. All overvotes (optical scan ballots only) and undervotes (optical scan/hybrid voting system paper outputs) are outstacked to be used in the manual recount if one becomes necessary
Quote:

MANUAL RECOUNT (S. 102.166, F.S.)  A manual recount must be ordered if the 2nd set of unofficial returns indicates that a candidate was eliminated or defeated by of 1% or less of the votes cast for the office or an issue was approved or rejected by of 1% or less.  Exceptions to a manual recount: o If the candidate or candidates defeated or eliminated from contention for the office by of 1% or less request in writing that it not be conducted; or o If the number of overvotes and undervotes is fewer than the number of votes needed to change the outcome of the election.  The manual recount is only a recount of overvotes and undervotes as outstacked from the machine recount.
From the State of Florida recount procedure summary (pdf)

nelliebly 11-12-2018 03:07 AM

How hard would it be, exactly, to roll in another 10 or 12 machines from another county?

BeepKillBeep 11-12-2018 06:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nelliebly (Post 21317973)
How hard would it be, exactly, to roll in another 10 or 12 machines from another county?

Whoa, whoa, whoa, we wouldn't want to do something sensible that might effect Republicans winning.

adaher 11-12-2018 07:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nelliebly (Post 21317704)
According to CNN, Palm Beach County officials are now saying there's no way they can finish the recount by Thursday's deadline, which will, according to Palm Beach county GOP chair Michael Barnett, put the GOP in very good position because their candidates are ahead. Not completing the recount means the Florida secretary of state would determine whether to certify the results as they are,. The Florida Sec. of State, Ken Detzner, is GOP.

It's deja vu all over again.

Why would a state have a recount deadline that can't be met?

First, all the other counties can meet the deadline. And most years, Palm Beach handles vote counting just fine. For some reason they had some foulups this year, as did Broward.

Second, recounts are BS. Running ballots through the machine once gives one result, running them through a second time gives a different result. There is no evidence that result #2 is more accurate than result #1. It's all kabuki to make voters think that their one vote can make a difference, when the reality is that elections have a margin of error. Invalid ballots get included in totals, valid ballots get lost, mistakes occur during counting. When an election is close enough, there is literally no way to determine the intent of the voters. It's a tie, and recounts are just a sophisticated way to do a coin flip.

That being said, Rick Scott is ahead by 12,000 votes, and no recount has ever flipped that many votes, or even come close. It's over.

ohiomstr2 11-12-2018 10:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beckdawrek (Post 21317749)
Jesus H. Christ, this 2018 why can't they have a system that works? There's seriously something wrong in Florida politics. This is really over the line. The Fed needs to send people down there to monitor elections.

Or an international monitoring team, headed by President Carter.

I often wonder what the US government would say if we were looking at a similar situation in a s******* country...

nelliebly 11-12-2018 04:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by adaher (Post 21318065)
First, all the other counties can meet the deadline. And most years, Palm Beach handles vote counting just fine. For some reason they had some foulups this year, as did Broward.

Second, recounts are BS. Running ballots through the machine once gives one result, running them through a second time gives a different result. There is no evidence that result #2 is more accurate than result #1. It's all kabuki to make voters think that their one vote can make a difference, when the reality is that elections have a margin of error. Invalid ballots get included in totals, valid ballots get lost, mistakes occur during counting. When an election is close enough, there is literally no way to determine the intent of the voters. It's a tie, and recounts are just a sophisticated way to do a coin flip.

That being said, Rick Scott is ahead by 12,000 votes, and no recount has ever flipped that many votes, or even come close. It's over.

Soooo...you think this "margin of error" is consistent across counties and through time? You think there are NEVER any errors, deliberate or otherwise by biased election officials in the original ballot counts? And you think as long as the results are within the "margin of error," we should shrug off the actual results and any possible malfeasance and declare a winner?

And you're arguing that because something has never happened in the past, it can't happen in the present?

Interesting.

adaher 11-12-2018 05:07 PM

I'm arguing that the purpose of an election is to determine the will of the voters. If an election is this close, that cannot be done. Things happen, like 20,000 voters failing to find the Senate race on their ballots, or weather keeping people from the polls, or lack of machines. None of this is enough to flip a race that's decisive, but in close races it makes the result suspect. Let's end these suspect results and just declare a tie, and then have tiebreaker rules, which could mean runoffs, incumbent party always loses, each candidate serves half the term, or even a coin flip. But stop doing these damn recounts because they always end in hard feelings and mistrust. Either the first result is the result, or declare ties in close races.

There is zero evidence that the recount will produce a more accurate result than the first count did. It certainly can't make up for the other errors in the system, such as 20K voters not voting in the Senate race in Broward.

It is safe to say, at least in the Senate race, that it is impossible to determine the will of the people. CAn we all agree on that? And if so, what's the best way to handle that problem?

UltraVires 11-12-2018 05:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by voltaire (Post 21317862)
Surprise, it takes longer for the most populated counties to gather and count (and even longer to recount) all their votes than it does for the low population counties to do so.

Shouldn't there be a corresponding increase in workers and machines? That would be like saying we only have 10 teachers per school whether the school has 100 kids or 2,500 kids.

adaher 11-12-2018 06:47 PM

Broward hasn't even started their recount, BTW. At least Palm Beach has given us information. Broward doesn't say anything at all without a court order.

Chisquirrel 11-12-2018 06:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UltraVires (Post 21319123)
Shouldn't there be a corresponding increase in workers and machines? That would be like saying we only have 10 teachers per school whether the school has 100 kids or 2,500 kids.

Who's in charge of this stuff again?

Velocity 11-12-2018 07:11 PM

Is it just me or are Republicans almost always in the lead in recount elections? When's the last time the roles were flipped and a Democrat led by 0.1% or something?

UltraVires 11-12-2018 07:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chisquirrel (Post 21319310)
Who's in charge of this stuff again?

AFAIK, it is the counties. I really don't know. This wasn't a gotcha question.

Twoflower 11-12-2018 07:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by adaher (Post 21318065)
That being said, Rick Scott is ahead by 12,000 votes, and no recount has ever flipped that many votes, or even come close. It's over.

Then why not just count all the damn votes already?

ElvisL1ves 11-12-2018 07:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by adaher (Post 21319105)
There is zero evidence that the recount will produce a more accurate result than the first count did.

And zero that it won't. That's why you do it.

Quote:

It is safe to say, at least in the Senate race, that it is impossible to determine the will of the people. CAn we all agree on that?
Of course not. That's what counting all the ballots is for.

Maybe you've been asleep, but this isn't 2000 and your partisan arguments against the most basic process of democracy were already dissected then when made by others.

JRDelirious 11-12-2018 07:52 PM

Florida did away with the chads, and after some fits and starts with touchscreens and others eventually settled on scan ballots.

Quote:

Originally Posted by UltraVires (Post 21319123)
Shouldn't there be a corresponding increase in workers and machines? That would be like saying we only have 10 teachers per school whether the school has 100 kids or 2,500 kids.

Well, yeah -- but for the benefit of those unfamiliar: what you have is on election night, there's one or more scanners at each polling place (depending on population) and at the end of the day you write down the readout of the scanner, then the largely volunteer poll workers make a crosscheck of how many ballots are in the basket vs. how many the scanner counted and make a note of it on the report then zap it to the Elections Board. Any discrepancies are looked at in the general canvass. When it comes down to recount now the process is more closely monitored so it gets done in one central location, with one fixed number of machines and a smaller number of people so you can control it all more tightly.

Now, if a particular county does not have this part of the operation be large enough to do a general recount in the time required, someone lacked foresight. But the question becomes, who's responsible for PB or Broward being sufficiently equipped and staffed in case of recount? The counties themselves, or the State? That is one expensive contingency, and again, most poll workers were volunteers it's not like you can summon them all again.


As to the ballot-design issue, that seems to be a major problem that keeps biting Florida in the fundament, but I've seen other states' ballots that are equally unimpressive. The one complaint about one of the races being tucked under a Wall Of Text in the lower left could be fixed by a hard and fast rule that NOTHING goes in the instructions column other than instructions (hell, make it a different font/shaded background), and all actual votes are in columns B thru D with separating "gutters" so that it is obvious where are the elections.

nelliebly 11-12-2018 08:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JRDelirious (Post 21319403)

When it comes down to recount now the process is more closely monitored so it gets done in one central location, with one fixed number of machines and a smaller number of people so you can control it all more tightly.

Why would a fixed number of machines help control the recount more tightly? Double the number of machines currently doing the recount in Palm Beach County, and you still only have sixteen machines, still few enough to maintain control of the recount, especially with the number of attorneys and party leaders keeping a keen eye on the proceedings.

JRDelirious 11-12-2018 10:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nelliebly (Post 21319485)
Why would a fixed number of machines help control the recount more tightly? Double the number of machines currently doing the recount in Palm Beach County, and you still only have sixteen machines, still few enough to maintain control of the recount, especially with the number of attorneys and party leaders keeping a keen eye on the proceedings.

Tell it to the elections commissioners who fixed it at 8, and ask whose call was it -- county or state.

nelliebly 11-13-2018 12:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JRDelirious (Post 21319588)
Tell it to the elections commissioners who fixed it at 8, and ask whose call was it -- county or state.

It's the county. This NYT article says the Miami-Dade elections office rented 4 additional machines, bringing its total to 10. This also means the number of machines isn't fixed but fluid.

Another puzzler is that

Quote:

41,000 Floridians requested mail-in ballots from overseas, so elections supervisors were simply inundated with ballots to count after Election Day.
Mail-in ballots must be requested no later than 6 days before the election, so officials certainly had time to prepare. And ballots from overseas are still coming in. The deadline for arrival is this Friday.

galen ubal 11-13-2018 12:25 AM

Huh. I just had a look at my ballot info (I live overseas, and vote out of Marion County, FL), and it tells me my ballot was tabulated. They received it on October 5 - wonder when they counted it?

RTFirefly 11-13-2018 08:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UltraVires (Post 21317857)
My point was that they were able to run all of these ballots through the machine on election night in a matter of hours. Why can they not just do the same process again in the next four days?

Can you confirm for us that they were able to do the initial machine count in a matter of hours?
Quote:

Originally Posted by voltaire (Post 21317866)
Because for both undervotes and overvotes, they have to check each ballot by hand to determine the problem that caused the aberration.

No, this is the machine recount. If, after the machine recount is completed, the margin in a race is < 0.25%, then there's a hand recount.
Quote:

Originally Posted by nelliebly (Post 21317973)
How hard would it be, exactly, to roll in another 10 or 12 machines from another county?

Each county's ballot is different. You'd have to reprogram the additional machines, and test to make sure the reprogramming was done correctly. By the time they finished that, they'd be past the deadline anyway.

RTFirefly 11-13-2018 08:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance (Post 21317740)
There'll be a law suit. You can time that one with a stop watch. Might even end up back and the Supreme Court.

The notion that it's more important to finish the recount by a particular date, than it is to complete the recount and do it correctly, is of course absurd. It also flies in the face of the right of the voters to have their votes counted, and counted correctly. I suspect that the Dem legal team will be making that latter point in court.

Buck Godot 11-13-2018 11:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nelliebly (Post 21317704)
It's deja vu all over again.

Complete with Butterfly ballot 2.0

emcee2k 11-13-2018 01:26 PM

Recounts are ridiculous. If you take the same pile of ballots and count them twice, you should get exactly the same numbers. If you don't something is broken somewhere in the system. It's so bizarre to me that a recount can cause triple-digit change in vote totals, and everyone just shrugs off the fact that apparently hundreds of people disenfranchised on the first go. Or the second go.

BigT 11-13-2018 01:35 PM

It's not really disenfranchisement if they have a mechanism to force a recount if there's any chance that it's actually close. It's just a lower precision measure, followed by increased precision measures that take longer if the situation is close.

That said, I do agree that they should be able to do a better job than this with the first count. Especially in a place that has repeatedly had problems. Give them them the latest and greatest tech.

BigT 11-13-2018 01:42 PM

Arkansas has electronic voting (and mechanical before that). But we also do have ballots, especially for absentee. The ballot does not seem difficult to read at all. The only problem I have is that I think we need a plain language statute for the ballot issues.

Here is Missouri's absentee ballots, which look similar, except that ours doesn't have the gray background to emphasize the titles: they're just set off with bold and lines, IIRC.

BigT 11-13-2018 01:54 PM

One more thing: it just occurred to me that it sounds like I'm saying recount deadline isn't disenfranchisement. That very much is.

And, no, to adaher. It is not impossible to determine the will of the people--at least the people who voted. That's ridiculous. There are still countries that count votes by hand. There's plenty of time before they take office.

Having multiple samplings increases accuracy, BTW. So, while you can't necessarily say that the first or second count is more accurate, you can figure out the bounds, and if they both agree, you get a more precise measurement than either alone.

That said, if the recount is handled differently than the original count, then it could add precision to the process. Assuming they don't include an arbitrary deadline.

The only time I would say we can't tell is if we are at January 2 and still don't have everything counted.

emcee2k 11-13-2018 02:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BigT (Post 21320589)
It's not really disenfranchisement if they have a mechanism to force a recount if there's any chance that it's actually close.

Of course it is. If you go to the polls and vote a specific candidate or proposal and that vote wasn't properly recorded, then you didn't actually vote. Obviously it'd be worse if it swung an election one way or another but it's still unambiguously disenfranchisement.

UltraVires 11-13-2018 02:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emcee2k (Post 21320696)
Of course it is. If you go to the polls and vote a specific candidate or proposal and that vote wasn't properly recorded, then you didn't actually vote. Obviously it'd be worse if it swung an election one way or another but it's still unambiguously disenfranchisement.

It is amazing that millions of Floridians were able to navigate the complexities of properly marking their ballots. I think that a rejection of a vote is self-selecting. If you are too stupid to follow the instructions on how to vote so that the machine did not count it, then that was a vote that did not need to be counted.

It further amazes me how Democrats want to portray Republican voters as backwoods idiot rednecks yet they support counting moron votes because they know that is where they get the most votes.

DigitalC 11-13-2018 03:02 PM

I guess we can forget about Florida being a battleground state at this point. Battleground states shouldn't have been even close this election.

Chronos 11-13-2018 03:17 PM

If the ballots are designed such that idiots on both sides can't figure it out, well, I'd still argue that that's less than ideal, but at least it's fair. But if the ballots are designed so that it's easier to figure out how to vote for one side than for the other, so that one side's idiots get to vote and the other side's idiots don't, well, that's a problem. And that was the case both with the butterfly ballots, and with these ballots.

nelliebly 11-13-2018 03:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RTFirefly (Post 21319942)
Can you confirm for us that they were able to do the initial machine count in a matter of hours?
No, this is the machine recount. If, after the machine recount is completed, the margin in a race is < 0.25%, then there's a hand recount.
Each county's ballot is different. You'd have to reprogram the additional machines, and test to make sure the reprogramming was done correctly. By the time they finished that, they'd be past the deadline anyway.

Miami-Dade brought in 4 additional machines and didn't have this issue. By the way, the machines, which came from Nebraska, would undoubtedly have to be programmed but not reprogrammed, as they weren't set up in Florida to begin with. I don't know how long it take to program the machines, but it seems likely it wouldn't long enough to delay the recount significantly. Doesn't it?

galen ubal 11-13-2018 04:43 PM

A Leon County circuit judge ruled Tuesday that the recount of midterm votes in Palm Beach County, Fla., will be extended to Nov. 20, five days after the initial deadline.

RTFirefly 11-13-2018 05:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nelliebly (Post 21320846)
Miami-Dade brought in 4 additional machines and didn't have this issue.

When? Two weeks before the election? Two days after?

Chisquirrel 11-13-2018 05:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UltraVires (Post 21320798)
It is amazing that millions of Floridians were able to navigate the complexities of properly marking their ballots. I think that a rejection of a vote is self-selecting. If you are too stupid to follow the instructions on how to vote so that the machine did not count it, then that was a vote that did not need to be counted.

It further amazes me how Democrats want to portray Republican voters as backwoods idiot rednecks yet they support counting moron votes because they know that is where they get the most votes.

Seems like a common refrain from conservatives:

"If you can't return a postcard, you don't deserve to vote."

"If you don't have an address because we refuse to deliver mail to your door, you don't deserve to vote."

"If you misread something or skip a vote you don't care about, you don't deserve to vote."


So much for defending democracy.


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