Common Sense

Common Sense: The Skeptics Guide to Election Integrity and Fraud

Two events in the last week or so prompt this post.  First, last Saturday I was at the Reason Rally at the Lincoln Memorial.  One speaker said “Be skeptical of everything”.  A later speaker  assured us, among other things, that two things I believe to be true were actually conspiracy theories.

Second, a recent series of posts by Richard Charmin,  essentially claiming that in many states the primary was stolen.

So, where do I come out?  I stand with Carl Sagan who said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” and the speaker at the Reason Rally who said to “be skeptical of everything”.  Here we have competing extraordinary claims:

  • By Richard Charmin:  That, in a large number of states the election results were manipulated in favor of a single candidate.
  • Implicitly by complacence: “Move on, nothing to see here, exit polls are always wrong in the U.S.  Don’t be concerned that every time someone brings this up, they are always wrong in favor of one candidate or party”

Common Sense: Laws must be Sufficient, Enforceable, and Enforced

In one of his books, Gerry Weinberg pointed out that employee evaluations should be multiplicative not additive, that is, the various dimensions of performance and capabilities should be multiplied rather than added to determine the overall value of an employee.

There is an analogy with laws, including election laws.  Laws must be Sufficient, Enforceable, and Enforced. Missing one of the three, all value is lost.

Common Sense: [How] Do you know if your vote counted?

The Citizen Audit has just opened up our signup for the audits for the primary, which start fifteen days after the primary. The primary is August 12th, so the audits will begin Aug 27th.

Q: So, why bother signing to spend a day observing the audits?
A: To understand and the question ” [How] Do you know if your vote counted?”

Common Sense: The good, bad, and ugly secret ballot

We often take for granted the idea of the secret ballot. One alternative to the secret vote is the public vote. Sometimes we would prefer a public vote, sometimes it is necessary,

The Connecticut Constitution gives us the right to the secret vote. In considering the Constitutional Amendment this year, we note that it represents a third alternative: A semi-secret vote, if anything a worse alternative than either a secret vote or a public vote with the disadvantages of each

Common Sense: Public Transparency and Verifiability

In our last post in this series, Why Should Audits Be Independent, we ended with “When it comes to elections, are independent audits sufficient? Not really. We need public transparency and verifiability as well.” In this post, we will address transparency and verifiability.

Common Sense: Why should audits be Independent?

Why do  we need independent audits for elections just as we have for other business and government functions?

Common Sense: Tension between Convenience, Confidence, and Cost

Many of the issues we discuss here and debate in the Legislature revolve around tradeoffs between Convenience, Confidence, and Costs. At a basic level we find three fundamental values/goals behind every initiative and debate: These tradeoffs and competing goals are the context within which we all constantly evaluate new laws and proposals.

Where Common Sense fails: Do insider attacks require a sophisticated conspiracy?

In this post, we address where Common Sense fails. Where what seems obvious to individuals and election officials is often counter to the facts or science. Those that are unfamiliar with technology and a specific area of science often overestimate how difficult or easy specific things are to accomplish.

Common Sense: Integrity and Confidence

We often speak of the need for ‘Integrity and Confidence’ in elections, yet the words ‘Integrity’ and ‘Confidence’ are often misunderstood, with their meanings collapsed. We need both confidence and integrity in our elections, neither alone is sufficient.

Common Sense: Paper Ballots are Insufficient for Voting Integrity

Reminder: Myth #9 – If there is ever a concern we can always count the paper.

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