Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Modest Proposals for Balloting Improvements

However we voted this year, I think we can agree the process is too clumsy. I have a few suggestions!

Improving how the actual election decision is scored [Electoral College, popular vote, IRV, or something else (..."one dollar one vote: put your money where your mouth is!"...)] would require an interstate pact or constitutional amendment, but reforming the balloting process, from voter registration to ballot collection, could be a simple business system development problem.

If we were to treat elections as Just Another Business system, we would observe that USA, Inc. already has a database that includes everyone eligible to vote: the Social Security System. Sending out an annual or even a bimonthly mailing to everyone making the citizenship and birth date cut would be trivial; there is no real need to make people register.

Mailing a ballot tuned to the address of residence would be mildly complicated but doable. On the federal level, there would be only 535 variations and they're tied to ZIP code. State ballots are more complicated and perhaps should be a separate process, with optional state buy-in.

To reduce the task of processing 200 million ballots mailed on November 1st, we would use a system well-tested in corporate governance: you cast your vote anytime you want, well in advance, but if you change your mind, you submit another ballot. Only your most recent ballot is counted.

What else? I suppose biometric identify validation would help, probably a place to put your thumbprint or a lick-and-stick saliva ID.

I also propose a modest tax break for all who actually submit a ballot. The $3 Presidential Election Fund is obsolete; let's make it a $25 "I Voted" checkoff instead!

Run it all through some nonpartisan civil service drones, or maybe the Post Office would be better, since they're expert at mass processing of paper.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Ultimate Concession Speech!

My Fellow Americans And Members Of My Campaign:
Thank you for coming here tonight. We fought a good fight but, unfortunately, the other side got more votes.
Found On The Internet: Some Pretty Cool Neighbors!
In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea for me to have said my opponent would turn our land into a Hellscape teeming with festering trolls. Who knew that there were so many World Of Warcraft fans? Who knew how many of them run trolls?
It was probably also a bad idea to follow my consultant's advice on robocalls. Yes, people are extremely susceptible to suggestions whispered into their ear at 3 a.m. but, oh man, do they hate being called at that time!
Finally, let me remind my supporters that it's only three years to the Iowa Caucuses. Let's get out there and get started!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

4freeCLE: Your Free CLE Newsletter! November 4, 2012

4freeCLE: Your Free CLE Newsletter!
November 4, 2012
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R.I.P. Bill Hanson

William Lewis Hanson

Last Saturday, the 27th,  I attended a memorial service for Bill Hanson.
Bill was one of the first people I remember meeting at the WSBA's World Peace Through Law Section. I'd joined the section in the run-up to the Iraq War, concerned that there was almost not serious discussion of its illegality. While I don't think the Section got very far with that, it did seem to be a very thoughtful group of people dealing with interesting subjects, and I've stuck around for ten years.
Bill was a very insightful elderly man. He was always kind and forceful - an interesting combination. We didn't see each other a lot; he stopped coming to meetings a few years ago, but he was not a person one forgets.
At his memorial family and friends talked about his wide range of interests and activities. His parents were Baptist missionaires in Shanghai, so his early childhood was spent in China. During the Japanese invasion, he was playing with an unexploded bomb, when it exploded and gave him a lifelong hand injury. He was sent back to America where he served as a conscientious objector during the war, performing some sort of nonmilitary service. Graduating from top colleges he decided to become a lawyer, with a practice in family law and in business law ... an interesting combination. He was instrumental in the formation of many Northwest institution, such as PCC and REI, the latter a natural fit as he was an enthusiastic outdoorsman.
At the remembrance his children and grandchildren agreed that they didn't realize, as kids, that their father or grandfather was unusual; I can attest that he was as humble as he was effectual, and treated everyone with respect.
I'm glad I was able to sit at the edge of the remembrance and realize that I had briefly be in touch with greatness, and given an example to follow.
Seattle Times Obiturary

the Fact-Checking election

Dr. Brin's policy analysis of this election is spot on and helpfully annotated by hyperlinks. And policy may matter, especially to the corporate-but-not-suicidal clade, best represented by Bloomberg. However, I'd love to see (after the voting and the legal battles, when GOTV can be let go until the start of the next election [roughly January 22, 2013]), some analysis of the cutover from passively relying on TV commercials (whether paid commercials or "News" [disinformatzia] programs) to interactive habits, especially fact-checking. I may be guilty of observer bias, but the people I hang with enjoy fact-checking; being able to respond to a "Benghazi-Is-A-Scandal" Trolls with Third Party dispassionate debunking; it combines the brute in-your-face joy of sports with the not-so-secret desire to Know Things You Don't Know! In 2012 the factchecking trend may not be enough to overcome the Bretz Flood money, but is it not a hopeful trend regardless of one's party affiliation? (One would have to be naiive indeed to think ... as I confess I may have at one time ... that the Democrats don't need independent fact checkers as well.)