Can I argue against the binding of _any_ U.S. law to me on this condition...?

Are you seriously saying that we should go back to the USC books of 1952 just because you are suspicious about ballot counting machines? Aren’t you at all familiar with the American legal system? They don’t throw anything away! :slight_smile:

IANAL, but I’m pretty sure that unless it can be legitimately proven that a given election was rigged, a currently elected official isn’t going to be removed from office. Even if it can be proven, then they’re not going to invalidate his votes retroactively, so your whole case will be moot by induction without having to know the specific laws.

I assume you are aware that disputed elections are subject to recount, and that the electorate also has the ability recall their representatives. Since there is already recourse in the event of error. And it should be obvious to anyone that standing in front of the U.S. Government and saying, “Technically, you don’t exist/aren’t legitimate because…” will meet the inevitable response, “Even if that’s so, here I am anyway. Suck it up and deal.”


"Since there is already recourse in the event of error, there is no need to create for ourselves the huge nightmare of re-passing every law on the books.


Perhaps you’d care to enlighten us as to exactly where in the Constitution of the United States of America you gleaned the concepts you attribute to being a realistic appraisal of our form of government?

[li] The voting system in the U.S. is not transparent (i.e., because of the mechanics of the current voting system, it’s not possible for the average voter to easily determine that fraud didn’t occur).[/li][li] Because the voting system is opaque, the average voter cannot trust the results of the voting system.[/li][li] Because the average voter cannot trust the results of the system, the government elected by the system is not legitimate.[/li][li] Because the government is not legitimate, the laws it passes are not legitimate.[/li][li] The average voter is under no obligation to follow illegitimate laws.[/li][li] Ergo, JustThink is not bound by the laws of the U.S.[/li][/list=1]

How’s that?

The obvious problems are #2 and #3: it’s not obvious to me that the system is not basically trustworthy, or that a lack of perfect trustworthiness equates to an illegitimate government.

The burden is on you, JustThink, to demonstrate those two propositions. I think everyone here would agree with the rest.

I think hansel has parsed it to American English.

  1. No matter what, there would be NO “50 year rollback”. There will be NO lifelong back-taxes refund. That is not how law works * anywhere*. Even in Russia, when the Soviet Union fell they did NOT automagically reinstitute the statutes, jurisprudence and land titles in force during the Kerensky administration.

  2. In the absence of mass civil disobedience or revolution, is it safe to infer that the society is majoritarily either content or resigned or just indifferent when faced with the statu quo (if voter turnouts are any guide, in the USA it’s mostly the latter)?

  3. And if the populace’s, or Opal’s, reaction is “Oh, whatever, what’s the difference”, is this not a tacit acquiescence to the legitimacy of the system?

  4. If I understand correctly, that "electoral transparency"would mean that each individual voter would be able to cross-check that his/her voted got counted, and theoretically if all the voters got together they could detect if any votes other than those they emitted were counted. But unless the latter happens, unscrupulous politicos could still take number of ballots somewhat less than the difference between actual turnout and 100%, and stuff the box with those. After all, there’d be a valid stub number.

  5. Cecil Adams did once write to the effect of “In the end, it always comes down to someone claiming they don’t have to pay their income taxes”. And he did also write: “When the Army shows up looking for their paychecks, we’ll tell them to call you.”

  6. And anyway, under this theory, has there ever been a legitimate government?

So let me get this straight…

  1. You do not have the access to view, first-hand, the source code of the program that runs the machines that tabulates votes.

  2. Because of this, you claim that the entire voting system is “non-transparent”.

I cannot see this as a valid point. The manner in which the votes are counted are immaterial. They can throw the votes into a box full of starving gerbils and count how many ounces of feces they poop out… as long as the results are accurate, it doesn’t matter how they are counted. The result is all that matters. And the result, if challenged, can be checked.

Further, the alternative to machine counting is hand counting… and NOBODY can view the inner workings of a human mind (aside from the person in possession of that mind, of course).

If you would like to offer up a solution to the problem - perhaps all you want is to allow the voting machine source code viewable to the public - I would really love to hear it.

It’s not obvious to me that the logical possibility of corruption in the current voting system is an indictment of it. After all, in your “cast a vote, get a receipt, check that the vote tallied for your receipt matches your intended vote” scheme, the system can be corrupted: 2% of the votes are tallied incorrectly for candidate A (i.e., of the votes cast for candidate B, 2% are “mis-tallied” for candidate A); a certain percentage of voters bother to check their votes, register their complaint (fill out forms, etc.) and get their vote corrected; a few spoiler “mis-tallies” are executed the other way, to provide plausible deniability.

In the last presidential election, just over 100,000,000 votes were cast, 49.82MM for Bush, 50.15MM for Gore. 2% of Gore’s votes are mis-tallied for Bush–1,000,000 votes. Assume that 10% of the population checks their vote (which I believe is high): Of the mis-tallies, 100,000 result in on-the-spot corrections, so 900,000 votes are cast for Bush instead of Gore against the voter’s intent. End result: 50.72MM for Bush, 49.25MM for Gore. Remember that the Florida election swung over a thousand votes or so. Dividing the mis-tallies among the states evenly, Bush would have won Florida, and several other states, with tens of thousands of votes to spare. Instead of the near loss, Bush is a clear winner. A really clever vote-rigging system would put Bush over the top just where he needs to be, cutting down on the number of mis-tallies instantly, before the mis-tally is detected.

If you wanted to be more sophisticated, you could correctly display the votes for checking by the registered voter, but mis-represent the count by a factor of 1 or 2%, since even fewer voters would bother to count than would check that their vote was registered correctly.

So even your ideal system is corruptible, lacking an ardently vigilant electorate. It doesn’t follow that your system is untrustworthy. The conspiracy to carry it out would be mind-bogglingly complex and difficult to conceal; likewise, our current system.

Ack! Ok, Fine… we’ll start with non-transparency

entirely as a issue first and then move from there. (I

thought my link to the x-debate forum would help clear this

up as I was just planning on cutting/editing and pasting my

two relevant messages there over here anyways.)

First off it helps to take this all into the perspective of

a known transparent method that is cheaper then the one

currently in effect, to install and maintain. Think about

the 600+ hours of news coverage for the 2000 election in

light of this… we recieved two points about our voting

system as a result; constantly barraged by the media:

1.) Our system needs to be upgraded to more sophisticated

computerized counting machines. (a bill passed in congress

under the auspices of the ‘Florida election scandal’ has

taxpayers footing the bill for ‘upgrades’ - which, crackpot

as it may sound, I believe was contrived to pass this bill)

2.) We now know that every vote counts, and that our

system; while not perfect, is as good as it can possibly

get ‘barring new computer systems’, which are 'very


Compare this rhetoric with the transparent system which has

been supressed in the media… I never once heard a single

story about the non-transparency of computerized vote

counting in all 600+ hours of coverage I observed - that in

and of itself should say something, considering the

sensationalist mood of the media these days and the fact

that entire organizations and lifetimes have been devoted

to speaking this message for nearly 5 decades.

Paper ballots marked with indelible ink!
New ballot if you screw up, having the other one torn to

10 digit identification code for the ballot; attached to

the ballot and a perferated reciept, which gets torn off by

the voter.
Both the ballot and the reciept contain the votes, the

ballot gets dropped into a transparent box and the reciept

stays with the voter.

Ballots are hand counted immediately when the polls close

and those totals are posted on a chalk-board at the

precinct where you voted, not to be ‘erased’ for one months

time. The estimated winner of the election will be

announced in approx 3 hours after the polls close in the


The next day, a list is posted with the totals for each

precinct, showing the individual votes cast down each

column and the totals at the bottom of each column. Each

horizontal line on the list represents a single ballot…

these lines are ordered alpha-numerically, and correspond

to the ten digit code on your reciept.
You find the one that matches and check the votes the

precinct registered as being your vs. the ones on your

reciept. If they are different; the numbers will be

changed on the spot.

This matching process on the second day will filter ballot

stuffing; as each identification number gets marked off…

those not marked will be deleted from the national pool

when listed nationally with all the other precincts. (You

do have to be registered in your precinct to even get a

ballot of course).

Vote counters will be payed $50.00 per hour to count the

ballots and will be drawn from a lotto immediately before

the counting starts. The high wage ensures that people

will actually be interested in participating, and that

those besides election officials will have the opportunity

to count the votes.

Multi-media capturing devices of all forms will be allowed

into the precinct for observing the voting process,

election officials will monitor and supervise the counters.

By the end of this election; the audit trail is there on

both the voters end and the states end; to be accurately

verified in the event of a recount. The margin of error

for this is virtually zero.

A national one week holiday is issued to train voters on

how to maintain a republic, and the warning signs of a

political body attempting to obstifucate the process of

transparent elections.
School children will have a class on transparent voting

procedure, and its importance towards ensuring a democratic


For the truly paranoid, open-circut television for their

precinct counting can be aired and recorded over the

internet or closed circut community television for the

veiwer to count the votes themselves long after the

election has been called, to spot any corruptions.

It may sound complex, and the details sketchy; but the

details are easily forthcoming as well… and the process

when walked through is just plain common sense.

Our current system:

99% of all precincts use what is commonly referred to as

Pandora’s little black box… a computer, to count votes.

Roughly half of New Hampshire precincts still use hand

counting, which is why New Hampshire is so hard to predict

statistically every election cycle, and recieves so much

‘odd’ media attention.

ABC was caught posting their election predictions on their

website (by accident) before the voting even started one

year… the margin of error for every precinct was within

the 1 percentile with the exception of about half the

precincts in New Hampshire. This type of circumstantial

evidence is discarded as fanatical conspiracy theory almost

immediately. Or a judge who recieved exactly 11 votes in

every precinct! Or the infamous trial case in Ohio where

it was proven that the numbers VNS posted were not accurate

for the precincts (a group called the citizens for a fair

vote count over there ambushed the caucuses and watched the

votes being counted). This landmark case was the only case

in U.S. history (prior to the 2000 election) which actually

allowed evidence into the trial. Various quotes of


Howard Strauss, Director of Advanced Computer Applications

at Princeton University, and a nationally renowned expert

in the field of computer voting, stated, "When it comes to

computerized elections, there are no safeguards. It’s not a

door without locks, it’s a house without doors."
Ohio judge Richard Niehaus in a Hamilton County vote fraud

case ruled, "There is no adequate and proper safeguard

against the computers being programmed to distort election

Roy G. Saltman in a 1988 report for the U.S. Commerce

Department, 'Accuracy, Integrity, and Security in

Computerized Vote-Tallyiing’, "…exhaustively documented the

many instances of vote mistabulation and the inherent

vulnerability of U.S. voting systems to error and fraud."
Not only are we not allowed to watch how our votes are

being counted, but the likelihood of being able to detect

vote rigging if it were happening is very difficult. Eva

Waskell, Director, Elections Project at Computer

Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), stated,

"Many court cases involving allegations of fraud were

brought against vendors of electronic voting systems. There

was no convictions… plaintiffs were never given access to

the vote tabulating program…" It has been pointed out that

poll watchers are allowed to test vote-counting computers

by inserting dozens, or even hundreds, of ballots into the

computer in order to check the accuracy of the computer’s

counting. This test is generally called the "logic and

accuracy test." Howard Strauss, Princeton University, says

of this test, "…turns out to be no test at all. That

doesn’t prove a thing. Any system that was designed with a

‘trap door’ or a ‘Trojan horse’ or any kind of fraudulent

thing in it could pass that test easily…. There are

hundreds of ways you could do this… . I’ve talked to folks

who’ve said 'oh no, we’ve fed a thousand votes in and then

we looked at the other side and they were counted

correctly.’ I said, 'so what? That doesn’t tell you what’s

inside the box.’ "
“What most people do not realize is that no one other than

these obscure voting-machine vendors can examine the

‘source-codes’ or computer-programming instructions that

tell the computer exactly how to count your votes; not the

voters, not the poll workers, not the city clerk, not the

county election supervisor, not even the state elections

director or any federal election officials are allowed to

view the source-code. As impossible as it must seem,

Relevance has verified this in dozens of interviews with

state, local and federal election officials and state and

federal computer voting consultants nationwide and even the

vendors themselves. All admit it and none appeared the

slightest bit concerned about it.”

End of quote from Relevance Magazine (Nov 96) issue,

entitled “Pandora’s Black Box: Did it Really Count Your

Vote?” – this is a copyrighted item, written by Dr. Philip


Judge Neihaus’s ruling was overturned in appeals on

trade-secret law, making the tally 100%; nobody has ever

veiwed the source-code through the court system.

<to be con’t>

Copied from a post in that link I gave earlier:

quote:If anything chef_benjy is closer to reality than

totalitarion plutocracy. Especially upon the naming of the

United Whoredom, I don’t find much ring to this but it

would be amusing to find other more amusing names.
Just so you know soothesayer democracy does not equal


Democracy does not equal transparency; correct!
Transparency is however a property of democracy that allows

one to define it as anything other than a pretense. Suffice

it to say; Just because a: 'Totalitarian Plutocray fronting

as a Democracy’ is technically a type of democracy; we

can assert that the implied values of democracy can possess

pretences which represent the word as any definition. All

democracies are charachterized by voting. People do vote

during elections; those votes are presumably counted; and

presumably have an effect on the elections outcome. Our

system is so non-transparent; that this says nothing

about whether the votes cast are counted; whether if

counted; they have an impact on the decision proces of

electing officials; whether the votes are even counted

accurately; whether those are the only votes taken into

consideration… and on and on.

These quarrels would be rather meaningless if I was seeking

some perfect transparency; that scarcely has a

conception. However, transparent process are known; and

they are cheaper to institute than the current system;

and nobody has to know who voted for who, keeping with

privacy laws of modern voting procedure.

Keep in mind that in a social contract; utilizing a

democratic state - the most critical function to definition

is transparency of the voting process and education on

maintenence of transparency; so that succeeding generations

will not be lost in a haze of inverted definitions by those

innitially elected to serve and fulfill predetermined code

in a contitution.
In a Democracy; it is quite obvious that a national holiday

of education of the issues coming to the ballot, and

education of issues regarding the protection of a democracy

is the first; formost and only holiday of any perticular

merit for celebration or recognition. Others would be

superfluous celebrations. It might strike you as odd; in

such a context, that America grants no holiday for the

voting process; no celebration of democracy; and no

tradition of education for maintaining it. It is wholly

ludicrous for a politician to explain that all of this

change costs to much money and is unreasonable; as it is

the foundation of the defining of the very governmental

system itself! There is no greater priority of cost in the

U.S. system of government; unless they rename their

governmental form, which is the topic of the thread here.
quote:The first democracy was based around people actually

seeing how one another voted. Democracy is on how the

people are represented not how transparent the votes are

when they are collected. This definition like I said above

excludes the first known form of democracy by which

democracy got its name. You know the system in early


You seem to confuse privacy and transparency. Modern voting

procedure is modelled around privacy; so as to avoid

possible discrimination or ‘witch hunts’ for voicing your

opinion. Ironically enough; the U.S. does not use a private

voting system. So the whole topic is moot.

Transparency can be corrupted while privacy stays intact.

Transparency of the vote process is the key to the defining

of a democracy; not the privacy of the voter.
It is the ability to audit the accuracy of the counting

procedure in a reasonable way; that merits the

There is not a reasonable system as such being utilized in

the U.S.

Again; if transparent systems weren’t so well known; common

sense; cheap; efficient; low-tech; tested; simple and

clear… in stark contrast to the current system; it would

be moot. The point is; transparent systems are known to

this degree. There is no excuse towards not running a vote

system transparently.

Hopefully that answers more questions to that regard.

Other interesting quotes/points along the topic:
It is not just a possibility; it is a probability as well.

Point of evidence aside; election officials exist to

guarantee that the results published on election night

reflect the vote of the people; it’s not our job to prove

that an election was rigged, it’s their job to prove that

the election was verifiable and honest.

"The best way to eliminate your competition is to be your

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing, those who count

the votes decide everything." both quotes attributed to

Joseph Stalin… just because you’re a dictator, doesn’t

mean that you can’t say true things shrug

JustThink, it still all comes down to your claim that the current system is possibly corrupt, and therefore untrustworthy. I don’t think anyone is disputing that your scheme is more transparent; the problem is that no one here believes that, because the current system can be corrupted, that it has been corrupted.

Without evidence of that, you’re losing your argument.

Sorry for the double spacing above… I have no idea how that occurred.

That’s not the point, even though there was mass media control in Russia, people were not confused about the nature of their government to the degree that this confusion implicates massive fraud. They were just a conquered people and knew it. That just comes back to the transperancy issue… at least if you don’t lie about it; you cannot be sued for fraud. In such a case as the voting system may be such that our votes are not even calculated at all for the final election results, it stands to reason that my tax dollars going to this endevour are owed back to me through a case of fraud on the part of the U.S. government. (Just to let you know; I’m not due many if any tax dollars, this is simply one compelling analogy of the implications legally.)

Voter turnout is a direct result of voter non-transparency and governmental steps to ensure voter apathy. People feel like their votes don’t count, even though they’re not informed as to why they feel that way, this can certainly be linked to the apathy encouraged by the federal government. What kind of ‘democracy’ doesn’t have a holiday to celebrate the crux of democracy?

Apathy is a vote of complete carelessness about the state when the process is transparent. When the process is not transparent, ‘apathy’ clearly has a more logical outlet than simple aquiesence, it can also refer to lack of education. Just because someone doesn’t wash their hands, doesn’t mean that they like diseases or encourage more rapid death.

Check above (again sorry about the double spacing); I went into more detail about transparency.

Yes, interesting… who exactly is it that sent this army out in the first place? The voters? Would the voters have let America become a country market for targeting in the first place, were more emphasis placed on education of the topic, and transparency of the process? Somehow, I don’t think you’ll find much apathy or snickering if voters get an actual sense of affect from their participation in the voting process. Clearly, the implications of not sending in any taxes would be felt very rapidly. You assume that people cannot make proper decisions, which has always been the excuse for obscuring the access of the citizens to the governmental body charged with serving the public to uphold the social contract.

There has never been a democracy period in history, though ironically (ack!, I hate to say it because of more inflamation) the U.S. has done wonders at destroying democracies attempting to establish themselves on that model, and insert regimes instead.
There have been communist societies, but again the west destroyed almost all of them well over 100 years ago.

I don’t want you to misunderstand my political positions, I am definately a rationalist. I don’t for example, believe that a communist system can even be ressurrected in a post-industrial age.


I see a BIG problem with this little scheme… the ability to track a particular ballot to a particular person. A secret ballot prevents little things like vote buying and coersion.

It’s bad enough that I had to distinguish, aloud and in public at the polling place, which party primary I voted in today (other than my usual choice, but the only way to have a say in a couple of races- only one party was fielding candidates).

Do you see an internal inconsistency between the “hand counting” and the “announced in approx 3 hours”? Just wondering.

Also, I’m not sure I’d go for that “write it in chalk” method. Hey, I know it’s transparent and all, but, it seem a little, I don’t know, subject to mischief.

I am sure I have nothing to add to the conversation because I haven’t a vaguest clue as to what it’s about. I just have a couple of comments.

  1. If you can not clearly state your argument in say 5,000 words or less then maybe the argument can not be articulated at all. Why bother?

  2. Could you consider changing your username to Jus cause I think people could start to confuse your name with our beloved thinksnow. What has he done to deserve that?

JusThink, you haven’t responded to my points yet. Do you disagree with my characterization of your argument?

TXLonghorn: This process is much more private than the current one. Your name is only used to recieve a ballot at the precinct… after that; you are only a ten digit number that doesn’t even get tracked with your name! The privacy of this method is astounding. In Oregon, you were thrown in jail or fined $100 for not telling them your name/SSN/address/race/income/religious affiliation and medical history. If you did not fill out all 52 questions on the mail-in ballot, your ballot was thrown away and you were subject to these sentences. This is a true story! I should know, I live here. The nightly news just made a casual joke about it like it was nothing; dispicable. I’m sure there are sites out there that have all 52 questions posted (bet you never heard that on the news.


The real problem, Justhink is not the relative transparency of the voting system–rather, it is the fact that millions of beer-swilling morons don’t care about elections period.
No national election has had a 50% turn out in generations.
Use whatever system you please…if the people don’t care the results will be the same. Corruption.

Oh, sorry. I guess I should have read ALL of the double-spaced bovine exhaust. I just saw 10-digit numbers and lists of voters.

Carry on with this enlightening discussion, please.


Your charachterization is very accurate; thank you.
Your point about possibility of corruption and yet no actual evidence of corruption is also highly noted as a reason to not care. Case in point, is that detecting computerized vote-fraud; as you may have noted in the quotes I posted in the upper double spaced post; is considered impossible to track unless someone is just really stupid; though circumstantial evidence has blown statistics out the window; aparently the laws of mathematics don’t apply to ‘unreasonable_sarcasm_’ doubt. Cases where the local numbers changed the outcome of the victor as opposed to the VNS ‘official’ numbers have been ruled for in favor of plaintiffs, but reversed in appeals and never ratified (even though the reversal was not about the discrepancy between the opposing figures - but about ability to veiw the source code; which the innitial judge mandated).

Let’s face it; you can’t catch computer vote frauders unless you are actively involved in the fraud process… it would be like whistle blowing on the tobacco companies in the 50’s times almost infinity; just not gonna happen.

The entire point is that; elected officials, as servants of the people, are required to prove to the voters that the process is transparent. It can easily be argued that the degree of non-transparency in the American system is so unreasonable (especially in light of reports from the govt’s own taskforce) that it can amount to nothing less than conspiracy; or that the elected officials are so severely mentally retarded that they should certainly be removed from office immediately. Moral issue aside; if, like mentioned earlier (in the second double spaced page), a democracy can be defined by it’s subtext, then it stands to reason that democracy or a republic has no tangible definition; in which case the premise of the constitution itself could be challenged as being a meaningless document.

technically a totalitarian plutocracy fronting as a contitutional republic is a form of democracy; but that just means the term democracy and republic are meaningless…


To address just one point: hand-counting votes. How is this to be more accurate? Have we not heard of human error?

I also think that your idea that 3 hours is enough to hand-count votes laughable. Perhaps in rural areas this would be the case. However, in even somewhat dense areas, the traffic can be enormous! Even worse, it is very difficult to predict! I went to school in Madison, WI, and during one election, students had to wait several hours to vote because they ran out of ballots and police had to be summoned to courier more from another area. And at $50 per hour? I would assume these people would also need some training, and we’d have to have many more than we actually needed on hand in order to prevent a complete catastrophe.

All of this headache – not to mention the great expense compared to machines we already have and volunteers – requires some sort of strong reason. You seem to have presented no evidence or convincing argument that such a ‘transparent’ system would be better. If the corrupt can skew the vote, what makes you think they can’t skew the lotteries for hand-counters? (Think not only corrupting the vote but a juicy appointment for somebody’s son or daughter in college.)

I just can’t see the gain here.