December 10, 2016

#Recount2016 — It's over in Michigan

Ted Rall explains the reality of massive Detroit undervotes to Jill Stein.
The Michigan state Supreme Court, by a 3-2 margin with two self-recusals, has said Jill Stein is not an "aggrieved candidate" and ended her recount bid.

There are several things both right and wrong with this.

On the right side, the letter of the law, with a reasonable dash of spirit, seems correctly applied by the court. If "aggrieved candidate" means one who would directly benefit from a change in outcome? She's not.

That's probably about it.

On the wrong side?

First, is state judges elected in partisan elections. Never have been a fan. This just adds to that.

Via Liberal Values Blog, this shows the reality of undervotes.
Second is Stein again thinking and hinting that a doubling of presidential undervotes vs. 2012 is indication of faulty machines, or even something nefarious.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. It's an indication of two things, expressed in four words — "Hillary Clinton" and "Donald Trump." If you, Gary Johnson, or other third party candidates couldn't get the presidential undervoters to name one of you, then that's your problem. Sadly, it's also the Green Party's problem, etc. (I'll assume the typical Michigan ballot was not designed in a way to deliberately bury your names.)

Further refutation of Palast's conspiracy theory, or of bad machine scanning of ballots, even? Wisconsin set a record for write-in votes. People just didn't like either Clinton or Trump, even whlie caring enough to vote in other races.

Third, as for de facto Jim Crow? Per Mark Hertsgaard on Ohio 2004, it happens — but not by bad, old, or hacked voting machines. It happens through perfectly legal, if despicable means, by shortening early voting, by putting fewer machine locations in poor or minority precincts, etc. A recount addresses none of that.

Fifth, it IS wrong that there's some sort of mismatch in 59 percent of Detroit precincts. It's also wrong that those precincts can't be recounted. But, again, that is by state law, and a recount itself won't affect that.

However, given that NONE of the precincts in either the city of Detroit or suburban Wayne County varies by more than five ballots, this wouldn't flip an election.

Here's the real wrong, from that:

Besides Wayne, Clinton carried Oakland, Washtenaw, Genesee, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Marquette and Muskegon counties.
None had nearly as many problems as Wayne. But at least 13 of 222 precincts in Genesee County are not balanced. More than half of those were in heavily Democratic Flint, according to county canvassing reports. The election was still certified by its board of canvassers.
“The trouble is there’s too much leniency with the board of canvassers,” said John Gleason, Genesee County’s clerk. “They’re not as stringent as need to be because they think it won’t affect the outcome of the election.”
And, they're probably not paid enough to want to be more stringent. Or else they're political time-servers in a sincecure job.

And, it still wouldn't matter. Between all of Wayne County, and the outlying counties, we're talking around 350 problematic precincts. At an average of 3 mismatches per precinct on initial recount, even if all were rectified, and all were rectified with 3 additional votes, and all 3 additional votes were for Hillary Clinton, that's 1,000 votes out of 10,000 needed to flip the state.

It ignores the possibility of similar problems in strongly Republican areas, not all of which are totally rural.

Sixth, it is wrong to have scanners that are as crappy as Detroit's. Yes, it's World Nut Daily, but it does have a comment from the Detroit City Clerk explaining the problem.

Seventh, per all of the above, it's wrong for the alleged cradle/arsenal of democracy to not spend more on its elections process. But, a recount won't fix that either. Maybe, by highlighting the problem, it will stimulate reform. But, probably not.

So, Stein can protest at Cobo Hall. That's her right. Most necessary fixes won't happen until Michigan political leadership changes parties, and maybe not after that.

Look, I totally agree that we need to spend more money on running elections better. Just like we need to spend more money on aging bridges, better mass transit and other things.

This is ultimately a sociological problem as much as a political one. It's a fundamental cheapness in the American cultural DNA. Skinflint Yankee jokes aside, there is a degree of truth to it. It's the same fundamental cheapness that has many Americans not blinking at free trade agreements even as they buy ever more made in China crap at dollar stores. I wish it were different, but it isn't. That fundamental cheapness is why anti-government political campaigns run so well in this country.

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