I See 1,800,000 Dead People

From the “Is anybody really surprised about this?” file:

A new report by the Pew Center on the States finds that more than 1.8 million dead people are currently registered to vote. And 24 million registrations are either invalid or inaccurate.

There’s little evidence that this has led to widespread voter fraud, but it has raised concerns that the system is vulnerable.

This is NPR, so I am not surprised at the skeptical tone of the article. Here’s another thought: are we only concerned about “widespread voter fraud” or would should our concern begin with fraud perpetuated by a single voter? After all, as we have seen in election after election in the last few years, it is not at all uncommon for the numbers to be so close–even in statewide races, that a few hundred or more votes separate the winners from the losers. How much voter fraud would be needed in those cases to subvert the legal process? Very, very little.

Moving on, then, we have this from someone whose job description is to ensure the validity and legality of the voting process:

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed says it’s amazing how many times his state has come across names on the voter rolls that appear to be the same person, but turn out not to be.

“We’ve even had cases, in very small counties, people [with the] same name and same birth dates,” added Reed.

He said that has led to inaccurate reports that “dead” people are voting. He admits there have been a few cases in his state where widows or widowers have cast ballots for former spouses, but he said such fraud is very rare.

Again, dare we ask what “very rare” means? In another article, Reed mentions that there are problems with 1 in 16 registrations. By my basic calculations, that means a bit more than 6% are wrong (person died, moved to another state, etc). That is less than the difference between the winner (Murray) and loser (Rossi) in the 2010 Senatorial Election for Washington State, where Mr. Reed resides.

When it comes to fraud, one does not wait until it can be proven to make changes. Rather, one looks at the probability which exists (that is, how simple is it to act fraudulently within the current system/framework).

It is good that states will be sharing some information with each other to better keep their voter rolls cleaned up. Unless voter ID is required along with such cleanup, one believes that the opportunity for fraud will not be substantively diminished.

Boehner Starts Well

John Boehner has begun well, as noted by his following statements as the new Speaker of the House:

Some of the good things he said were as follows:

The American people have humbled us. They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is. They have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them. That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker. After all, this is the people’s House. This is their Congress. It’s about them, not us. What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs. A government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves.

And:

We will dispense with the conventional wisdom that bigger bills are always better; that fast legislating is good legislating; that allowing additional amendments and open debate makes the legislative process ‘less efficient’ than our forefathers intended. These misconceptions have been the basis for the rituals of modern Washington. The American people have not been well served by them.

And:

To my colleagues in the majority, my message is this: we will honor our Pledge to America, built through a process of listening to the people, and we will stand firm on the Constitutional principles that built our party, and built a nation. We will do these things, however, in a manner that restores and respects the time-honored right of the minority to an honest debate and a fair, open process.

Full transcript here. If he can carry out his duties as Speaker in keeping with the course he has laid out here, we may yet have reason to be encouraged.

The Old Way of Solving the Problem

With no more knowledge than you currently possess (that is, no quick searches or phone calls or clicking the following link) can you tell us which recently elected state governor said the following:

The old way of solving the problem was continuing to raise taxes on people, and we just can’t do that anymore. The working families of [my state] cannot afford tax increases. The answer is going to have to be that we’re going to have to reduce government spending.

Which of the following said this?

  • Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin
  • Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York
  • John Kasich (R) of Ohio
  • Jerry Brown (D) of California

Your answers in the comments, please. Make your choice and then click the above link.

Another Thune Tie for Noem?

Kristi Noem has just picked her chief of staff to be:

Noem announced Thursday that Jordan Stoick (STOY’-ick) will manage the process of setting up her offices in South Dakota and Washington, D.C. before assuming the role of chief of staff after Noem is sworn in on Jan. 5.

Stoick, a Mobridge native, is currently vice president of a Washington, D.C. public relations firm.

What the article does not say, however, is that Stoick apparently did work for Thune (or at least his campaign) back in 2002, a slight difference to what Mount Blogmore is stating.

So, she’s got a native South Dakotan who knows his way around DC. We’ll need to wait and see what this means, but initial reaction is that it is a safe though not exciting pick.

Standard Time, Etc

For all of you out there except Arizona (and a few other places I cannot recall at this moment) time expands by an hour tonight. Enjoy your sleep-in. Just think, you might make Sunday School this time–even though you do have 4 children under the age of 6 to prepare for the brave new world.

Been thinking about a number of things during the last few days. One of them is the Pelosi story about her desire to be minority leader even though her team lost big in this past election. While I can by no means claim that I understand how she thinks–look, I have trouble understanding my wife–it would appear that if she does indeed desire this post, then she really is unaware that her leadership was to blame for a substantial portion of the upset. If her fellow representatives elect her to this position, then it would seem that they also do not understand the citizens objections to the way business is being done in the House of Representatives. Of course, I understand that she believes the loss was due to not getting out the progressive message well enough. I, on the other hand, believe that the message was very clearly understood by more people in this go-round than it had been in several previous elections.

On a related note, we have President Obama doing his best to say that this election was not about him. I’m sorry, but when one makes statements like “the difference between ’94 and now is they’ve got me” then one sets oneself up for a piece of the blame pie.

I am reminded, with reference to both Obama and Pelosi of the statement that goes like this: “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.”

Voter Turnout in South Dakota

I was mistaken in my pre-election analysis about voter turnout in South Dakota. I had thought that we might see historically high numbers (75% plus) given the nature of the election– particularly the Duel on the Prairie for South Dakota’s seat in the House of Representatives.

However, we had an average-to-low turnout of 62.26%. Looking at the official numbers again, we can see the following had voter turnout below 50%:

  • Buffalo–43.43%
  • Corson–37.12%
  • Dewey–45.78%
  • Shannon–34.90%
  • Todd–40.27%
  • Ziebach–45.33%

Each of these counties was one in which Heidepriem won a majority (as noted here). In fact, these counties represent 6 of the 9 counties in which he received a majority of the votes.

It would be interesting to know more about voter composition of these counties. That aside, it would appear that low voter turnout corresponded with a greater percentage of votes for the Democratic candidate for governor of South Dakota.

Heidepriem and Medical Marijuana

There is so much data from yesterday’s election that I confess to feeling overwhelmed. I’m just starting to weed through things and see what I can learn.

One of the things that stood out in a brief survey of the data was that Heidepriem was only slightly more popular than the medical marijuana question.

From the Secretary of State’s site, we have the following raw numbers:

  • Heidepriem with 38.48% (122, 002 votes)
  • Medical marijuana with 36.69% (115,631 votes)

Now, let’s look at all the counties in which each of the above took a majority of the votes.

For 13 (medical marijuana) we have the following:

  • Buffalo County with 52.05% (229 votes)
  • Shannon County with 69.33% (1621 votes)
  • Todd County with 59.03% (1141 votes)

For Heidepriem we have the following:

  • Buffalo County with 72.26% (323 votes)
  • Clay County with 50.41 (2339 votes) — by 38 votes
  • Corson County with 50.06% (426 votes) — a squeaker by 1 vote
  • Day County with 51.70% (1413 votes)
  • Dewey County with 57.42% (882 votes)
  • Roberts County with 51.35% (1955 votes)
  • Shannon County 82.17% (1950 votes)
  • Todd County 67.76% (1324 votes)
  • Ziebach County 56.37% (376 votes)

Looking at the above data, we can see that Buffalo, Shannon and Todd counties are in both sets. Interestingly, the margin for Heidepriem is greater in those counties than in any of the other counties.

I think we can safely say that Heidepriem got the marijuana vote, but ended up getting smoked by the opposition anyway.

Vote, Vote, Vote!

I am not advocating that we take the Chicago approach of “voting early and often.” I would, however, remind you that if you are able to vote and you choose not to, then you should (properly speaking) refrain from complaining about any public policy decision affected by that election until you do vote.

If you are a South Dakotan and have still not looked at the ballot, go to https://apps.sd.gov/applications/st25cers/ and find out exactly what you will be looking at when you go to your polling place.

My thoughts on the ballot measures/amendments are available via the following links:

Polls are open from 7 am to 7 pm.

I was at my polling place at precisely 7:00 this morning. I was number 7 to vote and the entire voting process (entry, waiting, identification, voting, vote deposit, exit) took 7 minutes. If I were a numerologist, I would get excited about all those sevens. Since I am not, I’ll just say that I am grateful that I still have the right to vote and would encourage all of you who are similarly grateful to exercise that right.

South Dakota Initiated Measure 13 on 2010 Ballot

As with a number of other states, South Dakota will be voting on the question of whether marijuana should be legalized for the use of those who need it for medical reasons. This is on the ballot as Initiated Measure 13.

And no, for any who are interested, the fact that federal laws would supposedly trump state laws is not part of the basis of my thinking. As someone who believes that the federal government should get out of many areas of our lives in accordance with its enumerated constitutional role, I am fine with the state establishing law on this measure.

Among other things, the measure would allow individuals who need the marijuana for pain relief to designate someone else as their pharmacist, as it were. Limits are set for how much of the drug can be kept on hand, etc. As many have noted, the probabilities for abuse are extremely high (no pun intended). Why not simply have the marijuana available via a regular pharmacist with a prescription? Of course, we can essentially already do that with THC pills.

To my understanding, this is a solution in search of a problem. There really is no such thing as medical marijuana (just as there is no such thing as medical whiskey). Many different products may be used for medical purposes, but that does not change their primary use. The primary use of marijuana in the United States today is for recreation/buzz/relaxation–not medication.

If one wanted to write a measure that would broadly legalize the use of marijuana (much as tobacco is legal, well, somewhat) then one could maker a stronger case for passing it. The present measure, however, would seem to be one thing masquerading as something else.

Vote “No” on Initiated Measure 13.

Daugaard vs Heidepriem and Noem vs Herseth Sandlin Now 2 Point Races?

From KDLT:

Nielson Brothers Polling (NBP) continues it’s three day tracking survey of the 2010 South Dakota political scene. Weighted numbers from the polling window of Monday through Wednesday show the following.

Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin holds on to her edge in the race for US House. The Democratic incumbent receives support of  42.0 percent to 40.1 for Kristi Noem, the Republican challenger. B. Thomas Marking (Independent) makes gains from the previous NBP surveys, garnering 5.5 percent, while 12.4 remain undecided.

Dennis Daugard, Republican Lieutenant Governor, continues to lead Democratic SD State Senate Minority Leader, Scott Heidepriem 43.7 to 41.3 percent.  Undecided numbers in this race shrink to 15 percent.
With regard to party preferences for state senate candidates, Republicans lead Democratic candidates 41.8 percent to  35.1, with 23.1 percent still undecided.

This is the first time I’ve seen a poll from these folks on the South Dakota races. Is is me, or does this seem to be quite a bit different–particularly with regard to the governor’s race–than other numbers we’ve seen of late? It would appear that the number of undecideds is remarkably high, given how close we are to the real vote.

It will be quite interesting to see how these numbers match up with other polls over the weekend.

Oh, and one wonders exactly the how weighted numbers were derived for this poll, as noted at the end of the first paragraph.