back to article Voter-befuddling tricks moving online

The conundrum in anything to do with voting: the people who write the election laws are the ones who won the election. What motive do they have for changing the status quo? Nearly eight years after the voting fiasco of the 2000 Presidential election, two disturbing US trends were highlighted at last week's Computers, Freedom, …


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  1. Mike Thompson


    If you are a voter, whether new or experienced, your local county election board should be the first place to go to confirm or deny a rumor.

  2. Dave Jones


    Election officials over here have a special category, TSTV, reserved for those voters who display the kind of intelligence that will make them vulnerable to the kinds of "tricks" described in the article. It stands, you will be amazed to learn, for "Too Stupid to Vote". These are the voters who, fresh from map-assisted laying of hands on fundaments, have trouble poking holes in bits of paper, or pulling down levers, or whatever task is required of them to register their preference.

    Of course our elections require slightly more than choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledumber, as in the typical UK vote. For better or worse, a typical general election requires choices for President, House of Representatives, Senator (two elections out of three), State legislature members (usually both Houses) plus county and city officials. Some states elect judges, District Attorneys, State Comptrollers, the list goes on. And that's without including Ballot Initiatives (where allowed) etc. etc. etc. All in the name of providing power to the people, when some of the people can be fooled all of the time.

    The UK manages democracy by limiting what you can vote for. Factions in the USA try to manage it by limiting who can vote, They've done it for reasons of racism, sexism, other-isms, or just plain holding on to power. The Feds can't do much about it. They have power from the post-Civil War amendments to the Constitution, but the transgressions have to be really blatant for them to step in. Forget HAVA: it's just another "here's a barrel of money if you do what we say" law.

    As always the last line of defense is the intelligence of the individual. And if that's not there, well maybe that voter really should stay home.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Mike Thompson

    Yes, but people need to knwo somthing is a rumor first. If they get a letter telling them somthing people beleave it, especaly in these times of mistrusting the govenment.

  4. Spleen
    Black Helicopters


    "Even offline, the sources of these flyers and calls are hard to find."

    In the case of the flyer telling Democrats to vote on the wrong day, then the source is the Republican Party. In less obvious cases, it depends on the group being targeted. If the flyers telling people not to vote for spurious reasons are being distributed in poor or ethnic-minority areas, they're from the Republican Party. If in rich, white Christian areas, Democratic.

    Of course, motive alone is never enough to get something proved in court. The parties will inevitably claim that these things are being done by activist individuals and are nothing to do with them, honest guv. But these vote-rigging operations are observed across the whole country, and need fairly substantial time and resources. The idea that they're exclusively carried out by dozens of activist individuals acting independently is simply not credible. Sometimes rational people can believe conspiracy theories even if they know the smoking gun isn't going to appear.

    At least it couldn't happen in this country, we just have the classic "go doorstepping and tell everyone your opponent's a paedophile" campaign tactic.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    The problem with democracy...

    is that by giving the choice to the people, where most of the people are idiots, you just hand power to the idiots.

    Is a flyer telling people not to vote on polling day really all that different from one of the red tops telling people how to vote because they are too stupid to understand the issues themselves?

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