Any democracy should aspire to a perfect, fraud-free voting system. But today’s loudest complainers on this issue — mainly Democrats complaining about Republican election victories — should be careful what they wish for, because they might get it.
To see why, let’s apply a little game theory to the problem. Ask yourself under what circumstances vote fraud will be most effective, and have the least risk of being detected.
Other factors being equal, the probability that vote fraud will be detected will scale up with the number of voting machines you tamper with rather than the number of votes. Thus, tampering will be most effective and least risky when relatively many people are being served by relatively few machines — that is, areas of high population density.
Another factor favoring high-density areas as vote-fraud sites is that poll-watchers are less likely to know most of their neighbors by sight, and thus more likely to pass a bogus voter. Also, in conditions of high traffic at the polling station people voting multiple times are less likely to be spotted.
We should expect vote fraud to be more common on behalf of the party controlling the local administration of a ward than on behalf of its opponents, because the controlling party will be better able to get covert access to the machines and better positioned to suppress any evidence of tampering.
Finally, we should expect vote fraud to be generally more prevalent among parties who think it less likely they’ll win an honest vote — that is, parties in an overall minority position. Especially, we should foresee fraud from minority parties who have reason to believe that polls and demographic projections overstate their strength.
What do these predictions tell us to expect, given the facts of American political demography? Well…the most important of these facts is that Democrats tend to carry areas of high population density and Republicans areas of low population density. To an excellent first approximation, the Democrat vote is urban, the Republican vote is rural, and the suburbs swing by local population density. Finally, it is also a well-known fact among political demographers that polls (especially those canvassing the general population rather than ‘likely voters’) tend to oversample Democrats.
(American voting patterns used to be more complicated, mainly because the Democratic party once had a strong rural Southern wing. But, as I have written elsewhere, the Democrats have spent the last forty years reducing themselves to a regional party of the coastal metroplexes.)
This tells us to expect that vote fraud will be primarily be a Democratic crime, especially practiced by Democratic urban party machines and increasing as the now-slender national Republican majority increases.
Both major parties behave as though they believe this to be true. This news story is entirely typical of the resulting skirmishes — a Republican legislature proposes a requirement that voters show photo ID, a Democratic governor vetoes it.
I’m in favor of moves to clean up electoral fraud, but that’s an easy position for me to take because I loathe both major parties. Partisan Democrats should be less sanguine; on the evidence, a perfectly clean voting system would cost them painful losses in swing districts without any corresponding gains in Republican heartland country.
Why do you believe that “the probability that vote fraud will be detected will scale up with the number of voting machines you tamper with rather than the number of votes” ?
Hm, I thought that was obvious. In the run-up to an election, election monitors don’t scale the amount of resources they put into fraud-checking by the number of votes cast, because they can’t anticipate that figure — instead, you typically get a fixed number of pollwatchers per voting location.
The rest of my model only depends on the assumption that the probability of fraud detection scales up more slowly than the number of votes.
Gee Eric, you could have credited me…. ;)
Doyle is going to get what he deserves this fall.
I think your first point is sound, your second point is probably not true (most of the voting frauds I know about happen either before polling begins or after it ends), and your third point is cancelled out by your fourth: a party firmly in control of local administration doesn’t need to cheat, as its candidates will probably be re-elected anyhow (with the exception of the Presidential race). As for the fourth point, it works only in the larger-scale races, as people more and more segregate themselves by party at the level of small-scale elections.
What’s so great about universal suffrage?
Folks got to vote in the former Soviet Union, Cuba, China, etc. Boy, they sure were free!
To hear you say it, there’s no looming issue of Diebold-style voting machine fraud, which doesn’t necessarily have the same scalability problems as the types you describe. If the system–in this case, overwhelmingly controlled and supported by adherents of one party over the other–makes widespread and subtle fraud disturbingly easy, do your points really apply any more?
I think “Diebold-style” voting machine fraud fits this model too, actually. I don’t consider the case that Diebold has actually committed fraud to be proven, by the way, but I don’t trust any voting machine design without a paper audit trail.
I’ll go further than this: I don’t trust any voting machine design that’s anything other than a ballot printer. Audit trails are fine, but the only way for the actual voter to trust the actual vote is when it’s possible to hold it in their hand, read it without assistance, and take as long as they like to decide on whether the ballot is valid or spoiled. Electronic whizbang technology can help prevent some spoiled ballots, but using it for mass storage of ephemeral votes both increases the possibility of fraud, and decreases the marginal amount of trust a disinterested voter can have in the ballot returns.
This isn’t some sort of knee-jerk technophobic luddite position, by the way – I’m fine with ballots having an optical-count barcode for speed, or hashes for verifiability, or other technological measures. On the contrary, I’ve spent any amount of speculation coming up with theoretical improved designs for voting machines and voting protocols, and they all fall off the cliff at the point where I walk into the polls and have to trust a black-box machine with implementing everything honestly. The only solution possible is for the primary (and preferably, sole) vote record to be a human-readable instrument.
Needless to say, I don’t expect such a system to be implemented any time soon. As it stands, both major parties gain by being able to attack election irregularities, and most electoral agencies in this country are heavily commited to high-tech solutions that won’t work.
>Audit trails are fine, but the only way for the actual voter to trust the actual vote is when itâ€™s possible to hold it in their hand, read it without assistance, and take as long as they like to decide on whether the ballot is valid or spoiled.
I’ve read about a system — in Brazil, I think — where they vote using electronic machines. When the user presses the commit button, the machine prints a receipt which the user can see and use as a basis for immediate challenge. The
receipt is behind glass so it can’t be tampered.
This seems like a good design to me. It wouldn’t be difficult to design statistical checks on it.
The most familiar type of voting fraud here in King County, Washington, is registration fraud. There are no effective checks against multiple or fraudulent registrations, and no effective checks against fraudulent votes by mail. We have found judges with multiple registrations, and voters registered to vote and recorded as voting from parking garages and empty lots. The ballots of deceased spouses are completed and mailed in, “because he would have wanted it that way.” Distributed fraud will be far harder to eradicate than organized fraud.
At least distributed fraud is likely to be distributed more or less evenly among both parties.
If the cities are predominantly Democratic districts already, the Democrats would have little incentive to engage in election fraud in those districts (since they are fairly sure Democratic bets anyway). There is no point in engaging in election fraud if your party is going to win anyway.
The problem with any electronic system for storing votes (including one that prints receipts) is that it is trivially easy for the machine to be set to print a receipt alloting your vote to A, while secretly alloting your vote to B. Or to take every tenth vote for A and turn it into a vote for B (much less likely to be detected, unless somebody cracks open the machine and looks at all the code).
Many partisan Democrats are firmly convinced that the Republicans have been engaging in election fraud in swing districts already. And, in fairness, there are a few cases that generate some suspicion (like a district, I forget where, that was polled at about 35% R and 65% D, then gave 6500 R votes and 3500 D votes). But very few partisan Democrats are going to believe that their party engages in large-scale election fraud, particularly in areas they already do well in anyway. It certainly seems a dubious proposition to ME.
One last note: If the Democrats are now the party of the coastal metroplexes because they alienated the rural South… remember WHY the Democrats alienated the rural south. It was over the issue of segregation and the Civil Rights Act, remember?
Should we regret alienating those who cannot stand to vote for racial nondiscrimination?
The book _Black Box Voting_ goes into detail about the suspicious behavior in the last election, as does Congressman John Conyor’s report _To Secure These Rights_ on election irregularities. There has been a lot of very suspicious stuff happening and almost all of it was attributed to the Republicans. If you look at the behavior of Florida’s attorney General, Kathlene Harris in 2000 or Ohio’s attorney General, Kevin Blackwell, they were involved with systematic attempts to disenfranchise voters. High ranking Republicans were involved in these dirty-trick campaigns, whereas the stuff attributed to Democrats such as the guy who tried to register voters for crack were not organized or systematic in nature.
The Republicans have a reason to try and disenfranchise voters. As the party which has a smaller (but more loyal) party base, the Republicans win when not all the Democrats vote. The harder they make it for people to vote, the more likely it is for the Republicans to win. A voter system which encourages people to vote favors the Democrats. If you look at the dirty stuff pulled in Florida, it was based not on voter fraud, but disenfranchising people so they would not be able to vote. The amazing thing is that that Kathlene Harris and Jeb Bush weren’t thrown in jail, as would have happened in any reasonable democracy. The problem is that politicians see no consequences for dirty tricks. They don’t get punished. Instead they get rewarded. The Conyors report was very, very disturbing, yet nobody paid any attention.
Eric Voorhies raises an interesting point. In high-density districts likely to vote Democratic, Democrats have little to no incentive to rig the election; Republicans have a huge incentive. The Diebold GEMS central tabulator (a Microsoft Access program!!!) counted most votes in the ’04 elections. It is worth noting that the president of Diebold is a Republican; in 2004 he promised to “deliver the state of Ohio to the President” (i.e., Bush) to the Ohioan Republican leadership. Let’s not forget that the exit polls which strongly favored Kerry in 2004 were accurate, except for Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where contentious electronic voting systems were used.
Frankly I don’t see what a paper trail really provides. So I know immediately that the machine recorded my vote correctly but that doesn’t provide me with any assurance that it was not changed later. Currently we use voting machines in my city that are decades old…they do not provide a paper trail yet I am pretty sure the system is working correctly.
Paragraph one. You make an assertion with no beginning of evidence that this is true. In fact, tracking news reports from the last Presidental election hints that your assertion is not correct.
Paragraph two is completely wrong. You didn’t read the article.
Paragraph three requires a foil hat – I wasn’t issued one.
Paragraph four is a simple smear without any documentation. Allegations and hints to back up your position not based on facts.
Paragraph five is also incorrect. Go back to the Senate votes for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and take a look at which party voted which way.
Paragraph six is expected based on 1-5. Set up a false assertion and then imply others are wrong.
You’re assuming that vote fraud consists mainly of tampering with voting machine results. There are two other forms of vote fraud, which may be more prevalent: unlawful voters, and voter impersonation.
Unlawful voters exist because there are frequently no significant checks on the eligibility of people who register to vote. In California, there’s a scary statement on the voter registration form which says that false statements are perjury and punishable by jail. However, most registrars of voters don’t bother to check the form for anything beyond internal self-consistency (did the voter check the box saying she was a citizen?) and for the possibility that the voter has moved within the county. Purging voter rolls is also quite restriceted. So it’s rather easy to register non-citizens or fictitious people, and send people to vote for them. This is in theory almost as easy to do in a suburban or rural area, depending on the population per voting precinct, or whether absentee voting is permitted on-demand.
Voter impersonation covers the classical “dead man voting”, but in places with no effective voter-roll purges, it’s easy to find names of people who have moved out of the area but not been dropped from the rolls, and send in agents to vote for them, or absentee-vote for them.
One of the problems of combating unlawful voters and voter impersonation is that the theoretically easy way to do so is at the registrar’s office, but implementation there is hard, as any government agency can flake on part of its job by pleading lack of funding or claiming higher priorities.
Is there any sort of a theorem about voting fraud that says that a truly secure voting system is incompatible with the secret ballot?
Contrary to what most of the Democrat apologists have said, there are plenty of reasons to commit vote fraud in cities which the Democrats are going to win handily. A number of states are closely balanced between D and R in presidential elections (and statewide elections), with the urban areas providing most of the Democrats’ votes. Running up the vote total in the cities doesn’t really help the local candidates, but may help tip a state like Nevada or Colorado or Florida or Ohio from R to D.
There are internal structural reasons for vote fraud in areas where one party has a commanding majority, too. In places where some level of local election are non-partisan, there are usually two factions within the ruling party, and both sides have an incentive to commit fraud to win their local elections. Sometimes, too, the parties allocate internal power based on the level of majority a candidate was able to muster – going from a 65% to a 70% majority may mean an additional delegate to the state party convention.
Sorry to burst some peoples’ bubbles, but the Republican voter base in the U.S. is now slightly larger than the Democratic one. The old picture of a smaller but more coherent Republican base has been wrong for at least a decade. See, for example, Michael Barone’s Almanac of American Politics.
Second, the Democratic Party did in fact engage in systematic attempts to disenfranchise voters in the 2000 Presidential elections, fighting to have ballots from military personnel overseas excluded in the (correct) belief that those votes would tilt strongly Republican. Democratic-leaning media quite predictably buried this story while trumpeting unsubstantiated rumors of Republican conspiracies.
> WHY the Democrats alienated the rural south. It was over the issue of segregation and the Civil Rights Act, remember?
False. The majority of the votes for the civil rights act came from Repubs. The votes against were almost all cast by Dems. One of the folks leading the filibusters is still in the Senate – Robert “Sheets” Byrd, ex-Klan organizer.
Segregation, Jim Crow, and the like were all Dem institutions. Jim Crow was imposed by Dems – they had a virtual lock on southern politics from after Reconstruction until recently. We’re still seeing elections in the south where the a Repub is winning a seat for the first time since Reconstruction. You remember Reconstruction – it ended when northern Dems got together with the newly re-admitted southern dems to “take back the south” and bring in seggregation.
In 1948 the Democratic Party adopted an anti-segregationalist plank, which incensed southern Dems and led them to form their own splinter party, the Dixiecrats. While the Dixiecrat phenomenon was short-lived as a party, from the middle of the 20th century until now Southern politicians who supported segregation and jim crow laws were at odds with the original Democratic platform — leaving them ripe for recruitment by Republicans.
These days, appealing to the jim crow-steeped values of the Old South is still a gambit used by the Republican leadership to win elections:
I should point out that the current ‘Democratic Party’ is the ideological offspring of the faction of the 1960s Democrats that _opposed_ segregation. That was why the Democratic dominance of the 1930s-60s ended in 1968- because Johnson and the Northern Democrats alienated the Dixiecrats by allying with the Republicans on civil rights. Segregation was a Dixiecrat institution- something that only the Southern ‘Democrats Against Lincoln’ approved of. For a sustained period, the Dixiecrats were strong enough to dominate the Democratic agenda on that issue. However, in the 1960s, when the non-Dixie Democrats couldn’t stomach it anymore, they either jumped ship or shoved the Dixiecrats off the ship, depending on your point of view.
Then Nixon brought those Dixiecrats- people like Strom Thurmond- into the Republican Party with his ‘Southern Strategy’ in 1968. So it is in fact that case that, as I said, the Democrats alienated the South over the issue of segregation. Because the Democratic Party leadership went one way, while the Southern Democrats went the other.
OK, I admit that my expectation that ‘distributed voter fraud is likely to be uniformly distributed across both parties’ is unproved. But… can anyone provide me with some causal reason to suppose that one party would commit significantly more of that kind of small-time fraud than the other? A reason other than an ideological ‘The Party I Don’t Vote For Is Evil’ one? If not, we may be seeing a bias in enforcement or watchdogging, rather than in election fraud.
To avoid setting off further firestorms, I will refrain from saying more about any assertions related to possible vote fraud by the Republicans in 2000 or 2004. I will merely point out that people in BOTH parties have been able to demonstrate evidence of election fraud to their supporters, but that their opponents almost never believe the accusations. So I can go on about the tricks the Republicans pulled to dupe black voters in Florida, while you can go on about the tricks the Democrats pulled to discount ballots from overseas military personnel. I won’t say you’re wrong, but I definitely won’t say I’m wrong either. And I’d appreciate it if you’d consider taking a similar tack, rather than dismissing all attempts by both Democrats and a number of non-party organizations since 2000 to document fraud as unsubstantiated rumor-mongering.
It is not a necessary axiom to state that one’s own party is incapable of election fraud. Or that one party is composed of evil greedy fraudulent hacks, while the other is far too upstanding to even consider fraud. But those who adopt such an axiom will almost invariably apply a much more rigorous standard to evidence of fraud that opposes their bias than to evidence that supports it.
This is why you get Michael Moore referring to the ‘President-Select’, but brusquely dismissing any evidence of dirty tricks from Democrats… and why right-wing ideologues equivalent to Michael Moore tend to do the reverse.
What I really want to question here is the implication that anti-fraud measures will systematically harm the Democrats more than the Republicans. I consider that somewhat insulting and poorly supported by a look at the general patterns of behavior on both sides. Of course, this forum is probably a poor place for me to say such things.
My understanding is that they also mandate a similar system in Nevada. Since I don’t live in or near Nevada, I may be mistaken, but I’ve heard descriptions of exactly this type of system that had the word ‘Nevada’ in or near them.
Regardless, there are two problems with the system. Firstly, while it is not at all difficult to design statistical checks on it (like randomly timed dumps of the absolute difference in the number of votes received by the two leading candidates, without the exact time or total number of votes associated with the dump – a difficult number to predict, forge or manipulate), it is absolutely impossible to trust that a black box electronic voting machine is actually performing the check, and not (for example) just substituting raw random numbers, or random samples of a curve that matches some eventual hard-coded result. Even if the last is unlikely, the non-verifiability means that it’s impossible to commit trust to the numbers – they’re meaningless, not because you haven’t yet thought up a clever enough protocol (remember, I have, thought about clever protocols), but because the black box can always fake compliance, and you can’t reliably exclude that fakery.
Second, while the reciept system is better than nothing, it only ever comes into play when the primary result is challenged. This means that it’s possible to sneak through certain results if they don’t get challenged; it also means that in large, important, elections, candidates will have the incentive to always push for a lengthy, costly, challenge in order to put the reciepts in play. By making the human-readable ballot the primary vote -with whatever speed measures are needed – you short-circuit both of these points. Nothing less does so.
> Sorry to burst some peoplesâ€™ bubbles, but the Republican voter base in the U.S. is now slightly larger than the Democratic one.
Yes and no. It depends on how you count them. The Republicans have registered more members and have a much stronger party organization to register and mobilize people. Nonetheless, most observers still feel that the Democrats have a larger base of potential voters than the Republicans. Statistically, the poor and minorities are more likely to vote Democrat than Republican, but those are precisely the sorts of people who tend not to vote and tend not to register with national parties. In Ohio in 2004, there were systematic attempts to make voting more difficult for these sorts of people, especially first time voters. If you look at the voter reform bills that the Republicans have generally supportted versus the reform bills supported by the Democrats, the Republicans generally support bills that make it more difficult for people to vote (have to show IDs, have to register earlier, etc), whereas the Democrats have generally supported bills like motor voter registration and making polling more convenient. If you look at how the Republicans want the census done (which determines how to allocate representatives and money), they don’t want to use more statistically accurate methods. Instead they insist on bad methods which consistently under-count people in poorer areas.
> Second, the Democratic Party did in fact engage in systematic attempts to disenfranchise voters in the 2000 Presidential elections, fighting
> to have ballots from military personnel overseas excluded in the (correct) belief that those votes would tilt strongly Republican.
Yes, they did, but that happened during the fights over recounting ballots in Florida when it was already clear that the Republicans had done a lot of dirty tricks to eliminate Democratic voters. It wasn’t a plan worked out well in advance, like Kathlene Harris’ plan to illegally eliminate people from the voter rolls in black areas or Ken Blackwell’s tricks to eliminate new registrations to vote or the Republican groups who registered people to vote and then threw away the registration forms for people who they thought would vote Democrat.
I’m hardly an appologist for the Democrat party. Personally, I was deeply offended by Gore’s decision to only call for a recount of the 4 districts in Florida where he had the most support, rather than calling for a recount of the entire state, so both Democratic and Republican districts would be equally recounted. Both Democrats and Republicans have acted in their partisan interests, but Democrats haven’t resorted to “dirty tricks” and didn’t develop plans before hand to disenfranchise people. I strongly suggest reading the Conyer’s report which points out the voting irregularities in Ohio ( http://www.truthout.org/Conyersreport.pdf ). A few of the irregularities in the Conyer’s Report don’t appear to have been deliberate voter fraud when investigated by an independent reporter, but the vast majority of irregularities have never been investigated. This is the troubling part to me as an indepedent who doesn’t vote for either of the two big parties. There obviously needs to be an official investigate of these things. Some of the independent Dems like Conyer have called for it, but their own leadership hasn’t supported it.
Finally, it is important to recognize voter fraud allegations today are very different from voter fraud allegations of the big city bosses of the past. Daley’s Chicago machine is not considered the problem. In Bev Harris’ book _Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century_, she sees ballot tampering in other ways. Look at where there were allegations in the 2002 elections: Georgia and N Dakota–in neither case did the irregularities happen in urban areas. http://www.blackboxvoting.org/index.html
Ok, in somewhat inverse order.
“Of course, this forum is probably a poor place for me to say such things.”
This can be taken a number of ways:
1) Because sites that only have Democrats would believe everything you’ve said without dispute. Let’s call this preaching to the choir.
2) Because the arguments are poorly reasoned. I think you’d be correct that this wouldn’t be a good place in that event.
3) Because this places is dripping with Republicans. Um, no. Libertarians. Libertarians have tended to vote GOP lately because, while the GOP is loony on a number of issues, the Democrats are certifiable:
Quite the bag of issues to be wrong on isn’t it? It was you that brought Michael Moore into the discussion. Wasn’t that Josef Goebbels follow-on seated in the Presidental Box at the Democratic National Convention? Doesn’t that sum it up? The GOP has at least tried to distance itself from it’s nutters. The Democrats are adopting its’ nutters as the core constituency. You can try to debate that but, again, the Moore box thing.
Reference the first part of your follow-on post. Is Byrd still in the Senate? Minus the sheets? Oh, but those were those OTHER DEMOCRATS, not these ones. “These are not the Democrats you are looking for” right? So those Democrats were pro-racism against “blacks” right? Today’s Democrats are racist the other way. Read these minutes:
and let me know which party Ashley Miller swings to. Yes, Ashley as in the one that doesn’t want a monument to Pappy Boyington as he’s just another “rich white guy.” Not that it matters for this discussion but he was Sioux. Do I know Ashley trends Democrat? No. But honestly, which way do you think she trends? Democrats have a long history of racism. They’ve simply swapped being “anti-black” for “anti-white.” Still racism. “Affirmative Action” is racist. Whether you think it’s a good idea or not does not change the fact that it is racist. I mean, they don’t mention “shoe size” in those programs do they? Hat size? Nope. Race. Hence racist. Racist policies. Racism.
Reference the real topic at hand. It was started by the news report that Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin has vetoed a bill that would require voter ID. So let’s deal with it this way:
That story is a report of actual, not implied and unsubstantiated, voter fraud that was committed in Wisconsin. By Democrats in Milwaukee. If, as you assert, it’s a equal you will have no problem finding documented fraud committed in the other direction. I’ll even make it harder. For it to be equal you’ll have to match numbers.
Here is the kicker:
“The fraud investigation has focused on the more than 70,000 people who registered to vote on election day, not the other 200,000-plus voters.”
Yes, you’re going to have to find a scandal of 70,000 in this one State.
I wish you well with that.
It was you that brought Michael Moore into the discussion. Wasnâ€™t that Josef Goebbels follow-on seated in the Presidental Box at the Democratic National Convention?
Goebbels had the Nazi party apparatus and the German war machine to hand. What particular corresponding means do you envisage Moore making use of to clamp down on freedom in America, for this comparison to be anything other than risible?
I don’t get you guys. The right (with their libertarian fanboy contingent in tow) have ALL THREE branches of the American government in their hands, and yet they’re *still* claiming to be the underdogs. “Wahhh! Big Bad MSM gonna take all our toys away! We’re being OPPRESSED by REPORTERS pouring scorn on our MOST TREASURED CONCEPTS! Wahhh!”
â€œAffirmative Actionâ€ is racist. Whether you think itâ€™s a good idea or not does not change the fact that it is racist. I mean, they donâ€™t mention â€œshoe sizeâ€ in those programs do they? Hat size? Nope. Race. Hence racist. Racist policies. Racism.
Are you saying the only way to be non-racist is to pretend that there isn’t (and never has been) any such thing as race?
It’s wrongheaded to label affirmative action as racist, especially since there are a lot of whites like me who support it. I’ve never met any white people who supports affirmative action because they hate themselves or think that minorities are better than whites. They feel secure enough in their own race and their own abilities that they don’t fear loosing a few jobs because a small number have been reserved for minorities. They are honest enough to see that there is discrimination and social injustice in the world and want to do something to change it. Actually, I don’t know anyone who says that affirmative action is an ideal way to run society. People support affirmative action, because they don’t see a better way of getting companies to hire minorities and getting more minorities out of poverty. Unfortunately, most of the people who want to do away with affirmative action don’t have any better plans for fighting racism and social injustice in our society.
Now you can argue about whether affirmative action is the wrong way to challange racism. You can also argue that affirmative action isn’t helping minorities in the long run. But labeling afrirmative action as racist isn’t a very constructive way of arguing about the real issues.
Affirmative action is racist because it specially privileges one race over another. The best AA is reparations for a past wrong. If AA is continued beyond due compensation, it creates a new harm in the reverse direction. I’m not saying that AA needs to be abolished; merely that there comes a time when it must be abolished.
>Nonetheless, most observers still feel that the Democrats have a larger base of potential voters than the Republicans.
‘Potential’ does not equal ‘actual’, and your pro-Democrat feelings do not constitute a refutation of the actual psephological evidence. Not when Democratic strategists have been griping since Bill Clinton’s day that the only reliable base they have left is the blacks and the government-workers’ unions.
>the Democrats have generally supported bills like motor voter registration and making polling more convenient
Which, interestingly enough, have the effect of making vote fraud easier to get away with. Funny thing about that…
And, on another topic: affirmative action is the systematic granting of preferment based on imputed racial affiliation. It’s hard to get more obviously racist than that.
> In 1948 the Democratic Party adopted an anti-segregationalist plank
Since Dems were the ones imposing segregation, and continued to do so long after 1948, that’s at best an apology, an apology that Repubs didn’t owe because they were never part of Jim Crow.
> leaving them ripe for recruitment by Republicans.
Except that that recruitment didn’t happen. The civil rights act passed in the mid-60s. Repubs didn’t make significant gains in the south until the 90s. (Has a Repub been elected to the senate from LA yet?) The segregationist southern dems didn’t switch parties, they died off. Well – except for “Sheets” Byrd.
Clinton’s political mentor, Fulbright, is another example.
Itâ€™s hard to get more obviously racist than that.
I was under the impression that the “racism” of AA was intended as a kind of mirror image/pendulum swing of the original, but without the lynchings and stuff. Hard to atone for racism by suddenly forgetting it ever existed. Of course, if we relied on the market like good libertarians should, companies with racist hiring practices would…be less efficient than non-racist ones, which could draw from a wider range of candidates and hence out-compete them? Someone help me out here, I’m not used to thinking along these lines.
“Goebbels had the Nazi party apparatus and the German war machine to hand. What particular corresponding means do you envisage Moore making use of to clamp down on freedom in America, for this comparison to be anything other than risible?”
Set up a false dichotomy and then knock it down like bowling pins. Nice try. Who said the primary motivation was “clamping down on freedom?” Goebbels used mass media to spread partisan lies. Same methods as ?
“Itâ€™s wrongheaded to label affirmative action as racist, especially since there are a lot of whites like me who support it.”
Thank you for that sentence Amos. That’s really brought out a chuckle.
Set up a false dichotomy and then knock it down like bowling pins. Nice try. Who said the primary motivation was â€œclamping down on freedom?â€ Goebbels used mass media to spread partisan lies. Same methods as ?
The contrast between doing it on behalf of the party in power and doing it against is an academic one? Never mind, you can lead a horse to water etc. etc.
>> Are you saying the only way to be non-racist
>> is to pretend that there isnâ€™t (and never has been)
>> any such thing as race?
Yes. A wiser man than myself said it this way:
“We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal…”
>Of course, if we relied on the market like good libertarians should, companies with racist hiring practices wouldâ€¦be less efficient than non-racist ones, which could draw from a wider range of candidates and hence out-compete them?
That’s right. But this isn’t just theory, it’s the actual reason Jim Crow laws were enacted. Racist whites saw the market eroding the system of custom and prejudice that kept blacks poor and isolated, so they made discriminatory laws in an attempt to exile blacks from the mainstream economy.
Adrian, which party was in power when Moore made “Roger and Me?”
Fuzzy, another wise man also said
esr: Do you think that restoring the free market (i.e. abolishing the Jim Crow Laws) would, suddenly, grant african americans a position of equality in the marketplace? If so, why hasn’t it?
Furthermore, in a completely free market (I’m assuming here that you’re also opposed to laws banning private actors from discriminating on the basis of race), how do you prevent private organizations (like, say, the local bus service) from not offering their services to people they don’t like?
As I understand it, the boilerplate answer is that in a free market there’s nothing to prevent someone from offering a bus service targetted at the people being discriminated against, and hence, the problem is solved.
The problem, I think, is that this pre-supposes that the downtrodden are equally able to setup such services for themselves. The very word downtrodden indicates that they’re not.
Aargh! As a registered Republican attending a “historically black university” (www.ncat.edu ) I feel a need to set the record straight regarding the Democrats, the Republicans, and Jim Crow. Quite simply, Lincoln was the first Republican President, and Northern Republlicans who tried to register ex-slaves as voters were known as carpetbaggers and scallawags. I used to live in Caswell County, which brags about being the first county where Reconstruction failed (Google for “chicken stephens” for details), and which elected its first Republican for state government in 2000 (IIRC).
Because of this, the Southern, evangelical, conservative whites voted for Democrats as conservative as Zell Miller. That continues to today. As a registered Republican I often vote for homegrown Southern Democrats without remorse because I know they’re as conservative as I am (and I also know that many of the Republicans around here are much too conservative for my taste, I’m still Republican only for the national primary). However, any Democrat transplants are much too liberal for me and for most Southern voters.
But, given that Reconstruction was a Republican project, and Jim Crow was a nativist project to derail Reconstruction, guess which party proposed Jim Crow laws.
Even so, in the early 1900s, the Republicans began trying to woo these conservative white voters (yes, the same ones that supported Jim Crow laws, even though I consider Jim Crow to be a product of former plantation owners). Unfortunately, this happened at the same time as the resurgence of the KKK. Republicans started talking about States Rights (proof: Strom Thurmond’s Presidential campaign), and groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans began putting up revisionist monuments to the soldiers who “fought for states rights” (sorry, but they really fought for plantation owners). Eventually *JFK* decided to get the Democrats behind Civil Rights, but he was worried that doing so would cost him the Southern Vote. This turned out to be true because it happened at the same time the Republican Southern Strategy was in full force.
Oh, and regardless of Civil Rights Acts, the biggest improvement in the “black condition” took place when markets in the North decided they needed black labor. Google “great migration” for details. Yes, markets did more than government intervention. Imagine that.
The odd part is that while most Americans believe blacks are strong Democrats, most blacks are very conservative but vote Deomocrat for the same reason Southern whites vote Democrat — they don’t like the Republican Party’s history. The liberal ones are then put in Democratic Party leadership positions (eg., Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton) and that seems to keep the illusion alive. However, as Democrats continue to self-destruct, I’m expecting many blacks to jump ship. Some will go to the Republicans, some may go to Libertarians (especially if the Libertarians tried marketing to them), some may begin a new party, and some will just give up on politics altogether.
It doesn’t have to be this way, but Howard Dean doesn’t look like the right guy to keep blacks (or even moderate Democrats) in the Party. Dean looks like he listens to MoveOn, Democratic Underground, Daily Kos, and university English departments more than any other groups in the Party.
And, yes, while the Republicans were the nationwide minority party, most vote rigging was Republican-biased. Today the Democrats are the nationwide minority party, and most vote rigging would likely be Democratic-biased for the same reason that most bribery and political corruption used to skew left (when the left was in power) and now skews right. And, yes, because they are the minority, Democrats give this victimization “we can’t afford to stand in line for eight hours in order to vote, but the Republicans are so rich they can” line. Yeah, that will change the future of politics.
AA is not a philosophical principal but a policy to acheive desired changes in our society. Stop treating it like a philosophical principal because you are missing the point of AA. People who think of AA as a philosophical principal conclude that it is racist, but nobody has every justified AA on philosophical grounds. They looked at what could be done about racism and came up with an imperfect policy to do it. If you don’t like AA, you need to devise a better policy which acheives the goals of AA, not attack AA on philosophical grounds.
Russ, I agree that affirmative action should eventually be abolished, but the question is what are the goals of AA and when have we achieved the point when we can abolish it.
I don’t think focusing on reparations for past wrongs is a good way to think about AA. This creates a victimization culture were everyone claims to be in need of reparations for the past. Instead, I think we should see AA as a common plan for creating a society which is more tolerant of difference. In my lifetime, whites will become less than 50% in the US. If we don’t want our white grandkids to be discriminated against some day, we need to create a nondiscrimatory society today, so there won’t be resentment toward our grandkids when they are the minority. This is the way I explain AA to fellow whites who aren’t motivated by social justice arguments.
Basically, I think there is a conflict within AA because it has two goals which aren’t always compatible. It is trying to move people into leadership positions and get people comfortable with the idea that they can have a minority for a boss and positions of authority. I think AA has done a good of acheiving this goal although there is still a lot of room for improvement. Within a decade or two I think AA can be abolished because it has acheived this goal.
AA’s other goal is to move a large mass of minorities out of poverty. Here I see little hope for success using AA. What has happened is that AA benefits a small number of privileged people, but generally hasn’t improved the lives of the of the majority of blacks, hispanics, etc. This second goal is better acheived by color-blind policieswhich help the poor in general. People often use poverty statistics to prove that racism is still alive and well in our society. I think it has less to do with racism and more to do with lack of opportunities for poor people in general. The decline in minimum wage, stagnation of low income wages, decline of unions, movement away from higher paying factory jobs toward service jobs, decline in government policies designed to help the poor, less progressive taxation, lack of a universal health care system, and greater inequality and less income mobility are the chief causes.
Many thoughtful minorities agree with me that the problem isn’t as much racism as a problem of poverty, but they continue to defend AA because they see little hope of implementing policies which help people on the bottom. AA is the only thing they have to hang on to when they see a general trend in government policy designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. If you don’t like AA, you need to address that problem.
I’m sorry, but (going to a “historically black college” where I do stick out in the student body), I believe most affirmative action is doomed to failure and we need to pull the plug sooner rather than later, because it will never achieve its goal. Simply put, affirmative action in universities is usually accomplished by lowering standards of admission for certain classes: i.e. “We believe that students will fail at our school unless they have a 3.0 gpa coming in. However, that standard lets in too many Asians and not enough blacks. Therefore, blacks can enter with a gpa of 2.5, which brings in enough blacks that we feel good about ourselves.” But those students entering with a 2.5 gpa are being set up for failure. Why is this a good thing?
Affirmative action in the job market is often accomplished by recruiting at “historically black colleges” such as the one I currently attend. But I believe that most companies don’t have their black quota because their corporate culture is unintentionally hostile to blacks. Stepping up recruitment activities to bring people into jobs they don’t want. Why is that a good thing?
My solution? Simple — colleges that want more qualified black applicants need to work with “historically black high schools” to improve the quality of their graduates. You’d think an institution of higher learning might have an idea or two about how to teach.
As for corporate affirmative action, lower the barriers of entry so that the chips can fall where they may. If the barriers to entry are low enough, qualified black [engineers, lawyers, etc.] will be able to create jobs with a culture they like if they can’t find one that already exists.
>AA is not a philosophical principal but a policy to acheive desired changes in our society.
If the “desired change” was to bring blacks out of poverty, it’s a failure. Black economic advancement was going faster before the Great Society and AA; the reasons are quite well understood, see Charles Murray’s Losing Ground for details. AA isn’t just insitutionalized racism, it’s institutionalized racism that harms its intended beneficiaries.
>esr: Do you think that restoring the free market (i.e. abolishing the Jim Crow Laws) would, suddenly, grant african americans a position of equality in the marketplace? If so, why hasnâ€™t it?
What a screwed-up set of assumptions! There is no way to ‘grant’ anyone equality in the marketplace — you can’t accomplish that either by passing laws or repealing them, because ‘equality’ is a set of distributed individual value choices that isn’t any more accessible to legal intervention than (say) tastes in food. The most you can accomplish by passing laws is to force people to make their discriminatory behavior covert rather than overt; the most you can accomplish by repealing them is allowing people to learn that racial discrimination is stupid and futile.
>Furthermore, in a completely free market (Iâ€™m assuming here that youâ€™re also opposed to laws banning private actors from discriminating on the basis of race), how do you prevent private organizations (like, say, the local bus service) from not offering their services to people they donâ€™t like?
Nothing at all, except the certain knowledge that discrimination will put them at a competitive disadvantage against people who aren’t racist fuckheads. Historically, this is what happened; the Jim Crow laws were passed to prevent this market pressure from operating.
>As I understand it, the boilerplate answer is that in a free market thereâ€™s nothing to prevent someone from offering a bus service targetted at the people being discriminated against, and hence, the problem is solved.
More frequently the problem is solved when another incumbent desides it wants the business the racist fuckheads are throwing away.
Adrian, which party was in power when Moore made â€œRoger and Me?â€
Er, Republican (Bush 1) AFAICT. He did do a bunch of stuff in the Clinton years, but he was kind of small fry then, making comparisons to Goebbels even stranger.
> I was under the impression that the â€œracismâ€ of AA was intended as a kind of mirror image/pendulum swing of the original, but without the lynchings and stuff.
Are “lynchings and stuff” the only bad parts of racism? If not, the above asserts that AA contains at least some of the bad parts of racism, keeping the good parts. That’s a good idea if the remaining good parts are better than the remaining bad parts.
Remind me – what are the good parts of racism? You know the parts that AA retains.
If reparations are the goal, why do descendants of folks who died fighting for the North owe anything?
Are â€œlynchings and stuffâ€ the only bad parts of racism? If not, the above asserts that AA contains at least some of the bad parts of racism, keeping the good parts. Thatâ€™s a good idea if the remaining good parts are better than the remaining bad parts.
I’m not justifying AA here – it’s really hard for me to judge whether the resentment it generates is worth the African-Americans it manages to boost into the middle class. But calling it “racist” is just flinging around emotionally loaded terms for the sake of it (see “fascist”). It looks like it’s *supposed* to be making up for past racism. So, yeah, it depends on race. The idea of fighting racism by suddenly declaring that we’re all colourblind now and libertarian principles will save the day is cute, but I don’t think we’ve got huge numbers of people on board for it atm, apart from here obviously.
Remind me – what are the good parts of racism? You know the parts that AA retains.
Pendulum swing. Damped oscillation (reduced amplitude, fewer lynchings). After one cycle, should be unnecessary. Not saying I believe it particularly, but it has *some* coherence. Unfortunately it was probably concocted by Stalinist apparatchiks.
If reparations are the goal, why do descendants of folks who died fighting for the North owe anything?
Well, if ending slavery was really the only reason the North went to war, maybe.
/* itâ€™s really hard for me to judge whether the resentment it generates is worth the African-Americans it manages to boost into the middle class.
I’m not sure affirmative action boosts that many African Americans into the middle class. I’ve seen numbers arguing it does, and I’ve seen numbers arguing it doesn’t. However, it is true that most African Americans *are* in the middle class today.
> Iâ€™m not sure affirmative action boosts that many African Americans into the middle class.
> Iâ€™ve seen numbers arguing it does, and Iâ€™ve seen numbers arguing it doesnâ€™t.
> However, it is true that most African Americans *are* in the middle class today.
Depends how you define the middle class. Most Blacks don’t feel that they are middle class in the US. In 1996, only 41% self-identified as being in the middle class according to one poll. In 2003, 32.5% of black households were in the bottom 20% of all household incomes, and 9.8% were in the top 20%. If you define middle class as not being in the top and bottom quintiles, then the majority of blacks are middle class, but that definition which is designed to make most people the middle class.. It is more meaningful to look at the number of blacks living under the poverty line and look at the median net wealth. Anyway you look at it, blacks are doing a lot worse than whites and their position hasn’t substantially improved in the last 25 years.
/* then the majority of blacks are middle class, but that definition which is designed to make most people the middle class.
Sorry, what does middle class mean, then?
But, either way, it seems that if “blacks are doing a lot worse than whites and their position hasnâ€™t substantially improved in the last 25 years,” then the last 25 years of affirmative action haven’t done much to boost blacks into the middle class.
Yes, I’ll concede that blacks have a lower average income than whites, but that doesn’t mean every African American lives in poverty. But, again, I don’t think affirmative action has done a good job fixing this problem. We need something, but that something needs to be smarter than “let people into colleges that they aren’t qualified for” or “just try harder to recruit blacks.” I think something like “work closely with high schools to improve the quality of their graduates so our college will get better black applicants to chose from” and “find out if our corporate culture is somehow hostile to blacks” would do better.
Amos, I’m really amused. I had left this thread alone for a bit, came back and what do I see? You, blithely ignoring some solid historical facts, while you continue to pitch ideas that busily redefine the world to make it fit into one where elites who hand out largesse to the masses are the heroes. What facts? Well, since we are talking racism and affirmative action:
1. Prior the Jim Crow laws, corporations and institutions in the south were breaking down racial barriers in search of new customers and income. Restaurants, bus companies, etc. were treating blacks and whites equally. This is why Jim Crow laws were passed, to prevent that from continuing. If the social racism was working fine, there would have been no need for Jim Crow laws.
2. Black (and other minority) wealth increased faster than white wealth did from the Great Depression until the 1960’s, BEFORE affirmative action and all the rest of the current government apparatus was implemented.
3. Since the implementation of that apparatus, as you have correctly noted, minority wealth has been stagnant.
Now, it should be reasonably easy to draw some basic conclusions from these three facts.
Here’s another interesting fact for you. The US military’s version of affirmative action is called Equal Opportunity. It’s implemented very simply. Any one who does not support the military EO program is given a no answer on their annual evaluation to the question of whether they support it, or not. An independent office on every post, the Equal Opportunity program office conducts an education campaign and investigates allegations of racism. In order to receive a no on an evaluation, it has to be substantiated with evidence. A no spells the end of a career. The EO program office does not report to the local chain of command. There are no racial quotas for recruiting or promotion. The Army, for example, recruits purely on the basis of whether you are a high school graduate, high school senior or GED holder (they have quotas for each of those categories) and what test score you receive. There’s no quota for race or gender. Yet, even with all of that, there are more minorities in the military than in society as a whole, and minorities are now quite well represented within military leadership. Amazingly, they somehow did this with no positive affirmative action.
P.S. you’re idea that laws and regulations can create a non-discriminatory society are full of it. That’s up to you and I to do. The government can only create negative reinforcement for negative behavior. Positive reinforcement inevitably turns into a set of programs that are about handing out money and privilege.
One last comment, to whomever asked the question about my father cheating someone else.
1. I bear no responsibility for what my father did.
2. I, personally, would feel that any money I inherited from my father should go to his victims, up to the amount they were cheated.
3. I would feel no need to make any other sort of amends.
Now, the question I have to ask is why I should have to make amends for what my father did?
People who’ve inherited stolen things normally have to give them up when the theft is proven, even if they “bear no responsibility for what their father did”. Though you may have some sort of statute of limitations over there, I dunno.
Did you see point #2 Adrian? Aside from that point, which I agree with, explain why I would have any obligation to make amends to someone for the actions of another person.
No reason why you should have to – unless you can be shown to have profited by those actions. I don’t quite see your point – you’re willing to return money inherited, but you see no reason why you should have to?
No, the question, is beyond anything in my possession that is stolen, or otherwise a direct result of coercion, theft, cheating, etc., what obligation do I have? The discussion relates to the idea that Americans of one ethnicity “owe” Americans of another ethnicity because of crimes perpetrated over 150 years ago (i.e. slavery).
Since none of my family was in the United States prior to about 1875, and when they did come to the USA they never lived in the South (i.e. no involvement with Jim Crow laws), as far as I can see I bear no responsibility because of anything my ancestors did. This whole idea of being responsible for something your father did is far too complex to ever untangle. So, instead, the meme has been that if you are a member of any of the ethnic groups normally described as white (my family, for example, is finno-ugric on one side and anglo-saxon and scots on the other) then you owe something to all of the people living in America today who are members of the ethnic groups normally described as black. This idea is both silly and racist and quickly breaks down for everyone except those who believe that collective groups can be guilty. I’m not responsible for the sins of my father nor is the entire white race today responsible for the things done to blacks by whites and arabs in the past.
The best solution is to create a level playing field for all, equal opportunity.
This hypothesis is consistent with what happened in Philadelphia and PA in November 2004.
Philly had something like 95+% of eligible voters register and go to the polls. (Eligible’s calculated from census numbers). Kerry accumulated something like a 400,000 vote margin in Philly. Congratulations due to moveon.org.
The Philly excess carried the state, overcoming a 260,000 vote margin for Bush in the remainder of the state.
I didn’t look up the precise numbers, but from memory these should be roughly correct at the implied resolution.
The RNC is well aware of this fraud, and has choosen to ingnore it. They won the White House and both houses of Congress, and saw nothing to gained by becoming a sore winner.
Ah, to see sacred cows on both sides led to slaughter.
Dems, Pubs, you’re all alike, and your own cows do no evil in your eyes.
As for ‘racial’ responsibilty… I owe nothing save for what I have done or contracted.
My wife is not ‘African American’, as she does not and never has lived in Africa. She’s born American, and happens to have dark skin.
Her family wasn’t rich, but she worked hard and brought herself up to a standard of living she enjoys. No AA ‘gimme’ programs, which bring into question the value of the recipient (“you aren’t good enough, so we’ll just give it to you”), and no PC hand-up.
Much of this involves ‘Social’ solutions, when the only satisfactory way to solve your own problem is an individual issue.
As for libertarian ‘lap dogs’ for Pubs… I have heard that going around. I only speak for myself, however. Try it sometime.
“Second, the Democratic Party did in fact engage in systematic attempts to disenfranchise voters in the 2000 Presidential elections, fighting to have ballots from military personnel overseas excluded in the (correct) belief that those votes would tilt strongly Republican. Democratic-leaning media quite predictably buried this story while trumprting unsubstantiated rumors of Republican conspiracies.”–ESR
You really surprise me here. Did you not hear about the tampering done in NH by Republicans during the 2000 election? (Similar investigation still underway relative to the 2004 election–some of the same actors involved in both cases.)
NH has a large elderly and “mobility impared” population–Democratic call centers for dispatching rides for many of these voters were flooded by bogus calls from a Republican run (commercial telemarketer’s) call center. Mind you all of this is in a traditionally Republican (not movement conservative, however) state.
The vote tampering investigation and prosecution has been, on the balance, run and performed by the local elected Republican leadership (whom were quite pissed off).
So, if you are going to talk about attempts by one party or another to do something moronic please get it right–both parties are full of it!
How about Election Day POTS DOS? Or should we call it POTUS DOS?
Phone-Jamming Records Point to White House By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
Mon Apr 10, 4:55 PM ET
“WASHINGTON – Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.”
“The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 â€” as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.”
“The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was ‘preposterous’ to suggest the calls involved phone jamming….”
Let’s get real about “disenfranchising voters”
The #1 disenfranchised voter in the last election=> Active Duty Military.
Telling people that they have to have an ID is not disenfranchising. You sure as hell will need ID for Obamacare, unless they use not having an ID as a way to get illegals into the system, just as Democrats don’t want people to use IDs to vote.
“I donâ€™t consider the case that Diebold has actually committed fraud to be proven, by the way, but I donâ€™t trust any voting machine design without a paper audit trail.”
Hah. What’s so great about a paper audit trail? ANY voting system is subject to fraud. It doesn’t matter if you make the voters all line up on either side of a room between the two candidates and be counted someone will figure out how to game that.
The electronic voting machine scare was pretty much a Democrat media strategy. While it’s theoretically possible to “fix” these, technologically it’s considerably more difficult that most other voting machine types. The machines were NOT linked over the Internet and the software was encrypted and/or proprietary which made it very hard to rig these. By comparison the old “punchmark” ballots used in Southern Florida during the 2000 election could be rigged by anyone with a key to the ballot box and a knitting needle. (This is one reason the Democrat Party hated electronic voting machines, btw: most of their tried and true fraud methods didn’t work with it.) The Democrats spread every kind of rumor they could, no matter how crazy, to denigrate the machines in the mind of the public. The machines they replaced these with are FAR more subject to fraud.