So, firstly, I feel like I should apologise for the previous political ranting. Yes, I know it’s more complicated than all that, and making out that the Republicans Are Evil doesn’t really help. It all seems weird to outsiders like me, but lots of normal people must have voted for GWB, so there must be some logic to it. There may be a strong religious conservative community, but I can hardly believe they make up 50% of the population…
The whole process did reveal some interesting bits and bobs about the U.S. Like the conspiracy theories by folks over at The Smirking Chimp. There seems to be some correlation between the counties where new Diebold electronic voting machines were in use, and those counties that had unexpectedly swung towards Bush. The statistical analysis is not very convincing, and could well be a consequence of biased sampling (i.e. only focussing on the counties that match your hypothesis, and ignoring the ones that went the other way). However, I do find it fascinating that any democracy would allow the use of voting equipment that make a proper recount absolutely impossible. There is no paper trail - the machine takes the vote and sticks it on a memory card - and so there is nothing to recount as the counting is ‘perfect’.
This is all very well, as long as one can be utterly sure that no bug or bias is present in the software. This is, however, completely impossible, and when election margins can be so narrow such systems are simply not good enough on their own. The optical-reading approach makes much more sense to me. The person makes their mark, and the slip can be rapidly and accuratly counted by machine. And if there is any trouble, one can fall back on manually counting votes created using the oldest, most familiar and least buggy user interface we have - pen and paper.
There’s all sorts of other stuff. Like arguments as to whether and/or why the exit poll results were changed as the true result became clear. And incidental things like the arguments over the teaching of evolution and creationism (‘Intelligent Design’) in Georgia. The mind boggles.
The other thing is that I’ve just upgraded this website to use Drupal v4.5, so I apologise in advance if some things appear broken or generally chuggled in the meantime. Why not solve this while you’re waiting.
Oh, and if you don’t know what to get me for Christmas, there are some interesting options here. The MIG25 Space Explorer trip would be perfect… ;)