Washburn's World

My take on the world. My wife often refers to this as the WWW (Weird World of Washburn)

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Location: Germantown, Wisconsin, United States

I am a simple country boy transplanted from the Piehl Township in northern Wisconsin to the Milwaukee metropolitan area who came down "sout" in 1980 for college and have stayed in the area since.
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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plunge Protection Team = Plunge Provocation Team?

The President's Working Group on Financial Markets is colloquially know as the Plunge Protection Team (PPT). If one believes the PPT has the power to artificially prop up the DJIA by systematically buying Dow stocks, one must concede the PPT has the power to artificially depress the DJIA by systematically selling Dow stocks or by executing put options.

My complaints (here, here, and here) with the bailout plan have centered on the power aspects; specifically the creation of an Emperor of the Treasury.

Given the power of the PPT, I find the comments of President Bush ominous.
  • In his comments from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Bush pointed to Monday's drop in the Dow Jones industrials.
    "The dramatic drop in the stock market that we saw yesterday will have a direct impact on retirement accounts, pension funds and personal savings of millions of our citizens," he said. "And if our nation continues on this course, the economic damage will be painful and lasting."
This manipulation: Give us your Liberty or we will take your Prosperity, as noted by Congressman McCotter during the debate on the bailout bill, is a recurring threat.

Circumstances change, but principles endure. Because of this Andrew Jackson's words from 1832 endure and are as true today as they were then. When politically-connected, rapacious bankers (i.e. banksters) demand "Give us a handout or else." the power and privilege demanded are the same.
  • Under such circumstances the bank comes forward and asks a renewal of its [The Second National Bank of the US] charter for a term of fifteen years upon conditions which not only operate as a gratuity to the stockholders of many millions of dollars, but will sanction any abuses and legalize any encroachments.
The power demanded under the Paulson/Bush plan is a gratuity to the politically-connected which would sanction any abuse and legalize any encroachment.

It is good it went down yesterday. Unfortunately it will be back because they only need to win once.

Doing Nothing is Not an Option

Yesterday, Congressman Steny Hoyer said, ""Doing nothing is not an option". The unspoken assumption is that all human action is action by government. This is untrue. Government action is only miniscule sliver of the human actions currently in motion due to the faltering US economy.

Tens of millions, perhaps billions, of people are taking action today. Some are buying books in order to better understand this situation. Some are watching the news. Some are reading this blog. Some are buying stocks on the dead cat bounce. Some are husbanding cash in anticipation of future needs such as payroll. I am sure some are taking the advice of Dr. Doom and moving out of dollar denominated assets. Schiff was unequivocal in part two of this interveiew on Australian Television. (Part One). Some are taking the action of observing the situation and orienting themselves to it as part of their own personal OODA loops.

I agree with Congressman Hoyer, "doing nothing is not an option". Millions and billions of actions need to be taken in order to unwind the mal-investments caused by 15 years of US government manipulation in the credit and housing markets.

I disagree with Congressman Hoyer. Doing nothing is an option; for the US Government. Beyond getting out of the way, enforcing contracts, and prosecuting fraud, there is nothing useful the government can do. If Ken Lay can go to jail for cooking the Enron books, then so can Franklin Raines and Daniel Mudd.

The primary and fatal conceit of Secretary Paulson, Chairman Bernanke, and Congressman Hoyer is that their brains can hold enough information regarding the trillions of daily human interactions of a market that they can then select the optimal action.

There is a lot of action going on to right this economic ship. The problem for Paulson, Bernanke, Hoyer and their bankster pals is that very little of that action is government action. Without government action banksters are unlikely to make it to the life boats as the economic ship lists right over them while righting itself through billions of individual, human action in the highly regulated US market and in the much more regulated world markets. (Contrary to propaganda the US is not a free market, but a less regulated market)

The US government doing nothing allows honest bankers to thrive while the politically-connected banksters to wither. Through bankruptcy and acquisition bankster assets are turned over to the prudent and productive members of Wall Street and Main Street. Even though this will cut down on campaign contributions to Congressman Hoyer and temporarily slow or contract economic growth, I think allowing those who have been prudent and productive in the past to prosper in the present is a good. Let the multitudes take the myriad individual actions needed.

Ultimately, I trust a drug-addled woman living in a her mortgaged, double wide trailer in Rhinelander, Wisconsin to handle money more responsibly and to predict the future better than I trust Paulson, Bernanke, and their political allies at Wall Street mega-banks to handle money and predict the consequences of their decisions. Her self-interested actions (or inactions) and the self-interested actions of tens of millions of others, will hit on correct solutions. Legislation will not.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Music: TINA is NOT in Charge.

The mantra for today regarding the Bankster Subsidy Act is that TINA is in charge and TINA is a bitch driving the American Herd toward Account-Smashed-In Taxpayer Jump. The good news about TINA (There is No Alternative) is that it is a lie. In the Land of the Free, there is Freedom of Choice.

Dont be tricked by what you see. You got two ways to go.

As always, I acknowledge Monday Music (tm) is Nick Schweitzer Production.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Banskster Bailout: Still All of Microsoft for a Buck

Last week I warned that the proposed legislation was so broad, sweeping, and dangerous that it allows the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, to confiscate All of Microsoft for a Buck

After week of frenetic activity which has lengthened the proposed legislation from 3 pages to 110 pages, Congress now has the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 before it. The result is longer, wordier, and supposedly better than the original 3-page proposal, but the new version still allows Secretary Paulson to confiscate all of Microsoft for a buck.

The key elements I noted which are needed to confiscate all of Microsoft for a buck were:
  • Define mortgage asset to include Microsoft
  • Set the "price" to one dollar
  • prevent judicial review of the confiscation.

All of these elements remain in the newer, "better" version of the bailout.

Define mortgage-asset to include Microsoft
The definitions in Section 3 of the new proposal drop the term "mortgage asset" and substitutes the term "troubled asset". Section 3(6)(B) defines a "Troubled asset" as:
  • The term "troubled assets" means any other financial instrument that the Secretary, after consultation with the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, determines the purchase of which is necessary to promote financial market stability, but only upon transmittal of such determination, in writing, to the appropriate committees of Congress.
As I stated last week, consultation is not the same as approval. But if the definition of "trouble asset" is not broad enough for the Secretary, then Secretary Paulson can re-define "Troubled Asset" to be whatever he wants it to mean under Sec. 101(c)5. Sec. 101(c)5 is the same as paragraph 2(b)(5) of the original proposal and reads:
  • The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation, issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities or purposes of this Act.
"Troubled Asset" is what every the Secretary wants to purchase/confiscate.

Set the price to one dollar
SEC. 101(a)(1) of the newer version has more words than paragraph 2(a) from the original proposal, but it still lets the Secretary of the Treasury to arbitrarily set the "price" of a "troubled asset". SEC. 101(a)(1) reads:
  • The Secretary is authorized to establish a troubled asset relief program (or "TARP") to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, troubled assets from any financial institution, on such terms and conditions as are determined by the Secretary, and in accordance with this Act and the policies and procedures developed and published by the Secretary.

Prevent Judicial review
Section 8 of the original proposal stated there would be no judicial review. Here the newer proposed legislation looks better, but this is largely illusionary. Section 119 is entitled: Judicial Review and Related Matters. In true Orwellian fashion though, Section 119 is nothing but a laundry list of limitations on judicial review. Sec 119(1) states the standard of judicial review is Title 5 chapter 7 which seems to allow very broad judicial review. Section Sec 119(2)(A) though guts most forms of judicial relief and reads:
  • No injunction or other form of equitable relief shall be issued against the Secretary for actions pursuant to section 101, 102, 106, and 109, other than to remedy a violation of the Constitution.
The limitation on Judicial review with the most perverse possibilities though is Sec 119(3)which reads:
  • No action or claims may be brought against the Secretary by any person that divests its assets with respect to its participation in a program under this Act, except as provided in paragraph (1), other than as expressly provided in a written contract with the Secretary.
If the divestment is not consensual as in my hypothetical confiscation of Microsoft, the victim (Microsoft) cannot bring suit unless the Secretary allows the review.
But even if a court happens to review the Secretary's actions, it can offer limited relief and can declare the transaction NULL and void only AFTER the confiscation has occurred. By then the damage is done and hard to impossible to repair.

Legislative Oversight
The rest of the 110 pages supposedly put in place strict legislative oversight. As this article points out, this is true, but worthless. The newer proposed legislation requires the Treasury Secretary and his Wall Street agents report their activities to two oversight boards. Again, I must cynically point out that report to is not the same as seek the approval of. There is no limitation on what Secretary Paulson and his hired cronies can DOonly that they prepare reports on what they have already DONE. Congress can huff and puff, but has abdicated the ability dismantle the house Secretary Paulson is scheming to build.

The numbers of the congress critters in this area are
  • Sensenbrenner: (202) 225-5101
  • Kohl: (202) 224-5653
  • Feingold: (202) 224-5323
Call today and stop this naked power grab which enables the transfer wealth from us, US citizens, to politically-connected Wall Street Banksters.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Buying Microsoft for One Dollar

Under the proposed bailout legislation, the US Treasury or agents thereof could acquire Microsoft for one US dollar and there is no legal recourse for Microsoft or its shareholders.

Here is the text of proposed legislation and here is what the Treasury Department claims the legislation will allow it to do.

The relevant sections of the proposed legislation (all emphasis are mine) are:
  • Paragraph 2(b)(5) which reads:
    The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation [to issue] such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.
  • Paragraph 2(a) which reads:
    The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.
  • Section 8 which reads:
    Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
  • Paragraph 12(1) which reads:
    For purposes of this section, The term "mortgage-related assets" means residential or commercial mortgages and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008.
Here is how Paulson "buys" Microsoft for one dollar.
  1. Invoke paragraph 2(b)(5) to define term "mortgage-related asset" to include Microsoft stock.
  2. Invoke paragraph 2(a) and acquire all outstanding Microsoft stock in exchange for one federal reserve note because these are the "terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary".
  3. Invoke Section 8 when Microsoft shareholders sue over the theft of their property.
I chose Microsoft because it is the corporation with the least connection to mortgages I could think of. But, my hypothetical "purchase" of Microsoft above is not prohibited under the proposed legislation. Moreover, the Treasury department is already telling Congress that my interpretation of paragraph 2(b)(5), paragraph 2(a), section 8 and section 12 of the proposed statute is the official interpretation of the Treasury Department.

Here are excerpts from the Treasury Department's OWN statement of what powers the Congress will grant to the Treasury Secretary under the proposed legislation [again emphasis mine].
  • From the paragraph entitled: Scale and Timing of Asset Purchases
    The purchases are intended to be residential and commercial mortgage-related assets, which may include mortgage-backed securities and whole loans. The Secretary will have the discretion, in consultation with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, to purchase other assets, as deemed necessary to effectively stabilize financial markets.
  • From the paragraph entitled: Asset and Institutional Eligibility for the Program
    To qualify for the program, assets must have been originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008. Participating financial institutions must have significant operations in the U.S., unless the Secretary makes a determination, in consultation with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, that broader eligibility is necessary to effectively stabilize financial markets.
The Treasury Department is telling Congress right now that under its official interpretation of the effects of the proposed bailout, that the Secretary of the Treasury, under paragraph 2(b)(5), has the discretion to alter the definition of "mortgage-related asset" so as to include any financial asset from any institution headquartered in the US or not mortgage related or not, as long as the Secretary "deems it necessary to effectively stabilize financial markets".

I would also cynically note that "consultation with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve" is not the same as "with the approval of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve". Under the proposed statute and the Treasury's proposed regulations, Chairman Bernanke can object all he wants, but as long as he was consulted, Secretary Paulson can do what he wants with any financial asset domestic or foreign. If the Chairman of the Fed could prevent anything, then that would constitute a "review by an administrative agency" and such review is strictly prohibited by Section 8 of the proposed legislation.

The Secretary Treasury is boldy asserting that under the proposed "bailout" legislation that he can "buy" any asset foreign or domestic at what every "price" he dictates and the victims of his "purchases" can pound sand.

Al Capone made similar "purchases" on similar terms back in the 30's.

The telephone numbers for the office of Jim Sensenbrenner are:
(262) 784-1111 (Brookfield office)
(800) 242-1119. (Toll-free to Brookfield office)
(202) 225-5101 (DC Office)

Call today. Call tomorrow. Call until this proposal to rape the American public is defeated.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Music for Bailout Monday

On the proposed nationalization of 1/20th of the US economy and the proposed creation of the post: Emperor of the Treasury, I thought these blasts from the past were particularly appropriate as my submission for Monday music.
I acknowledge I am shamelessly plagiarizing Nick's Monday Music feature.

Too Big To Fail In Texas

Last Thursday Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Bob Barr, one one and lost one in his effort to have Texas Election Law enforced uniformly to all candidates. He lost his effort to prevent defective ballots from being shipped to military and overseas voters. The defective ballots began shipping last Saturday, September 20, 2008. He won in that the Texas Supreme Court did not throw out the motion for summary dismissal filed by the Texas Attorney General. Motions from the Texas Secretary of State, the Republican Party of Texas, and the Democratic Party of Texas in the case are due today

In his his petition for mandamus Bob Barr points out that such uniformity is required by the US supreme court under Bush v. Gore.

As I stated before the Texas courts will not render justice, enforce the law, and remove the Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin tickets from the ballots. On this Bailout Monday, it is important to remember that the Republican and Democratic parties are too big to fail.

So the question for me is how will the Texas Supreme Court ignore the law and give the R&D party a pass on obeying the law. My bet is laches. I predict the ruling of the Texas Supreme Court will be to dismiss the petition for a writ of mandamus on the grounds that the Barr campaign is guilty of laches.

The court will rule that because
  • the Barr Campaign waited a week to get the evidence from the Texas Secretary of State (August 26, to September 4, 2008)
  • Spent a week trying to convince the Texas SoS to obey the law( September 4, 2008 to September 11, 2008)
  • Spent a week to find a Texas attorney, research Texas Election Law, to file the motion (September 11, 2008 to September 16, 2008)
, the Barr campaign is guilty of laches; the campaign did not assert its rights in court soon enough.

In spite of the fact that
  • You cannot assert a tort until actual harm accrues (Barr was not harmed until the Texas SoS illegally certified the Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin tickets on September 3, 2008)
  • You cannot bring suit in court until all administrative remedies have been exhausted.
  • You must use a lawyer admitted to the Texas bar in order to file a motion in a Texas Court
, the ruling will be that the Barr Campaign needed to file its motion for a writ of mandamus earlier and than September 16, 2008. The filing will be ruled as untimely and be dismissed.

This will not be Justice, but it my bet this will be the ruling of the Court.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

McCain A Write-In Candidate in Texas?

In a word: No.

Even though both the McCain and Obama campaigns failed to meet the legal requirements of the Texas election code, the Secretary of State of Texas ignored the clear language of the law and certified both as having a place on the ballot.

The ballot status of the Mcain/Palin and Obama/Biden tickets is now part of a lawsuit in Texas. The Texas Courts will NOT render justice in this case. Instead the court will allow the defective certification of the McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden tickets to remain on the ballot.

What happened is simple. Neither the Republican Party of Texas nor the democratic party of Texas filed nomination papers by the end of day, Tuesday, August 26, 2008. Texas election statute 192.031(2)(A) requires that:
  • before 5 p.m. of the 70th day before presidential election day, the party's state chair signs and delivers to the secretary of state a written certification of the names of the party's nominees for president and vice-president
This requirement is to allow the Texas Secretary of State and the 254 county clerks of Texas have time to prepare and mail ballots out to overseas and military voters by September 20, 2008. This deadline is now in peril because the Texas SoS failed to obey the law.

Here is the documentation submitted to the Texas Secretary of State by the two, politically connected parties. As you can see the names and addresses of the presidential electors were submitted on time, but the four names (presidential and vice presidential names from the Republican and Democratic parties) were not submitted on time. The closest of the four names to meeting this hard statutory deadline was when the Republican party submitted on August 25, 2008, the name of the un-nominated John McCain and an unsub. The first problem is McCain was not the party nominee by then and the second problem is Sarah Palin was not even proposed as the VP nominee until August 29, 2008.

Here is the letter objecting to this failure to obey the law from the politically unconnected Libertarian Party. The LP, BTW, followed the rules and held its convention in May specifically in order to meet filing and ballot access deadlines such as this one in Texas and other, more draconian ballot access laws in other states. The politically unconnected Green Party had its national convention in June in order to meet such filing and ballot access deadlines. The politically unconnected Constitution Party had its national convention in April in order to meet such filing and ballot access deadlines.

What have the Texas Supreme court said on missing important, statutory filing deadlines? It has said that that if the defects are minor (e.g. missing place numbers) the candidate can cure, but if the deadline is important it must be enforced even if this bounces the candidate from the ballot. The tendency is to allow cures provided the legislative scheme for elections and the election schedule is not contravened.

The 2006 case cited by the Barr campaign is In Re Francis which reads [emphasis mine]:
  • Finally, we emphasize several limitations on today’s holding. First, it concerns only facial defects that are apparent from the four corners of a candidate’s filings; it does not reach forgery, fraud, or other non-accidental defects discoverable only by independent investigation. Second, it concerns only early filings that allow time for corrections after the state chair’s review; no additional time will be available for candidates who file at the last minute so that review cannot be completed before the filing deadline. Third, it does not allow political parties or candidates to ignore statutory deadlines; it allows candidates only the time that the Election Code was designed to give them. Fourth, it concerns only defective filings that have erroneously been approved; it does not change what the Election Code says party chairs should and must reject. Finally, it does not absolve candidates of the need for diligence and responsibility in their filings; party chairs must only notify them of defects, not do their work for them.
The dissent in In Re Francis is even blunter. Deadlines are deadlines for a reason and must be enforced lest the whole election be disrupted. The dissent reads [emphasis mine]:
  • Election contests often raise competing interests: courts must favor candidate eligibility and access to the ballot, strictly enforce the Legislature’s intent as expressed in the plain words of a statute, and attempt to honor both principles to reach a just and reasonable result as required by the Code Construction Act. Mandatory requirements in the Election Code can work harsh consequences that may result in applicants not being placed on the ballot; yet the plain language of the Election Code, frequently couched in terms of "must" and "shall," instructs that candidates include all of the listed elements in their applications and petitions.
It is a fortuitous thing for the McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden tickets that the American government is no longer a lawful, republic but is a post-republican empire where the whims of men and not the dictates of Law rule. All that matters is political connection and political power. Neither McCain/Palin nor the Obama/Biden will be removed from the ballot. The political might of the Republican and Democratic parties are sufficiently strong that not even clear language of the Law will stand in their way. But watch out you Libs, Greenies, and Consties out there. For you the statutes WILL be used to club you and keep you off the ballot. If this was not the case, then substantive ideas and substantive issues might leak into the campaign, be discussed, and cause voter confusion.

Can't have that!!

For the 2 wings of the ruling duopoly, discussing divergent points of view on the substantive issues of the day is more dangerous than destroying the Rule of Law in Texas.

Hail, Victory!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Election Observation Limited

As I predicted the new GAB rules on election observation do limit the ability of citizens in Wisconsin to monitor their election.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008 I went to observe the local board canvass of my home voting district, District #1 of the Village of Germantown.

Standing about four feet from the scanner and about 30 feet from the table with poll books I took this picture with my camera at full zoom.

When I took the picture above, I was threatened with arrest by this rather nice police officer.

After asking why I would be arrested I discovered the county clerk has instituted a new observation rule in which the clerk states that every election worker has a six foot bubble around them and any member of the public who violates the bubble will be arrested. The village clerk informed me of this and showed me the email she had received from the county clerk. Based on legal authority of a printed email from the county clerk, the police officer informed me that he would arrest me if I persisted in violating the bubble rule. I protested that the bubble rule was bogus and was a misstatement of GAB rule 4.01. Unfortunately I did not think to have a copy of the rule on me, but knowing the bubble rule was bogus, I proceeded to take this picture.

At this point I was given the clear ultimatum by the village clerk: back away and abide by the bubble rule or be put under arrest. I spent about 10 to 20 seconds deciding if arrest was prudent. I had other things to observe that evening. Eventually discretion, prudence, or cowardice won and I moved off.

Later I saw this

Thinking that something worth observing might be happening I moved closer to observe. I was again threatened with arrest even though I had clearly stopped more than six feet away.

The rest of the evening was spent in the Washington County courthouse observing the tallying and aggregation of votes on the central GEMS server.

Here is a picture of an assistant clerk working on the GEMS server in the area set up for the public observation.

Yes, there is someone at the desk back there. Yes, this was what is considered to be open for public observation.

I have stated for years that only bad software is delayed by good testing. The same principle holds for elections:

Only poor procedures are hindered by vigilant observation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

History Repeats Itself, Almost

Well it seems the same programming mistake from September 12, 2006 happened again last night.

The programming mistake from September 12, 2006 and again last night involved polling locations with more than one ward serviced by a single scanner. So for example, the voting for wards A, B, and C are all at the same physical polling location, Johnny’s School, and are serviced by a single optical scanner. Here is an example of ballots for some hypothetical race in the location Johnny’s School for the three wards.

Here is a breakdown of the ballots as marked by voters in wards A, B, and C.
Actual Ballots Cast
Reporting unit Total Ballots Cast Ballots with votes for Jefferson Ballots with votes for Hamilton Ballots with no vote cast for this race
Ward A 100 74 21 5
Ward B 125 69 44 12
Ward C 150 89 58 3
Johnny's School 375 232 123 20

With the programming error this is how the scanner reported on those ballots when it created its end of day tape report and what the scanner uploaded to the central UNITY server.
What the Election Commission claims the machines reported.
Reporting unit Total Ballots Cast Ballots with votes for Jefferson Ballots with votes for Hamilton Ballots with no vote cast for this race
Ward A 375 74 21 5
Ward B 375 69 44 12
Ward C 375 89 58 3
Johnny's School 375 232 123 20

But, it should be noted this is what the Milwaukee City election Commission claim is the effect of the programming error.

In September, 2006, the City Election Commission only hand counted the total number of ballots for the affected wards. If the total, aggregate number of ballots matched, they declared the problem solved.

In our example above, that would mean that if the total number of ballots for Wards A, B, and C. Once you find that total numbers of physical ballots are 100, 125, 150 for wards A, B, and C; respectively, you claim the problem affected no individual races.

The problem is this. Once you discover one statistic from the location level (Johnny’s school) has contaminated the reporting for a ward-level statistic (e.g. ballots cast in Ward A), how do you know that no other ward-level statistics has been contaminated as well?

Here is an outrageous example. Assume the machine reported the following statistics on the end of day tape report and then subsequently uploaded those statistics to the central UNITY server.
What the machine could have mistakenly reported
Reporting unit Total Ballots Cast Ballots with votes for Jefferson Ballots with votes for Hamilton Ballots with no vote cast for this race
Ward A 375 232 21 5
Ward B 375 232 44 12
Ward C 375 232 58 3
Johnny's School 375 232 123 20

If the machine reported the ward level statistics this way, the City’s test from September 2006 would not have caught this error.

That is because the number of physical ballots cast is indeed 100, 125, and 150. In 2006 the City Election Commission never checked any of the candidate-level statistics to see if the machine-reported totals matched the votes actually found on the voter-marked ballots. They assumed the only statistic in error was the total ballots cast. What justified that assumption?

Did the machines mis-report the candidate vote totals in September 12, 2006 or last night?

I don't know about September, because no one botthered to check. But, for last night, the city election commission claims that every ballot line for every race on every ballot cast in every affected precinct were counted and tallied by hand. It is reported every single hand count ballot line agreed with every ballot line on every end of day reports printed last night by the scanners in the affect locations.

This is a substantial improvement over September 2006, because now there is evidence (instead of faith) that the programming error is indeed limited to the single ward-level statitstic.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Number-less Election Records

Signed Election records without numbers. Who knew such things were possible. O yeah, Wisconsinites.

But Palm Beach, Florida is looking to follow in our numberless footsteps.

From the Sun-Sentinel this Weekend:
Election officials stumped by about 3,400 missing ballots

I love the quotes from the supervisors on the Board of Election Supervisors:
  • Cohen said he would be "absolutely stunned and disappointed" if they were found sitting somewhere, uncounted.

    Cohen said the board's job is to create a record of the recount, follow mandated steps and send up the results to Tallahassee. "Unfortunately, I don't think it's my position to make any sense out of it," he said.

  • County Commissioner Addie Greene, also a board member, said she didn't notice whether numbers were filled in on the report she signed.

    "I really wasn't looking for them. I didn't know they were supposed to be on there," Greene said.
But, the state of Florida is equally adamant:
  • The state canvassing board has no authority to intervene, said Jennifer Krell Davis, a spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Elections. "The results are the results," she said.
So with 3,478 ballots unaccounted for the voters of Palm Beach County are supposed to believe that one of the candidates won by 60 ballots of between 99,045 and 102,523 ballots cast.