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livvy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 10:01 PM
Original message
An elementary tale
My kids (three classes)completed a project. We decided to vote on the best of the projects submitted. We had a primary, where each class decided on the best of another class's submissions. The projects chosen by the primary were displayed in a showcase, and identified by a number. All 4th and 5th grade classes were asked to vote on their favorite, given a guideline of objectives for the project. Paper ballots were provided, one per student in each class.

At the end of the first day of voting, I was informed by a student that a few students had cast unofficial ballots. I assured him that I would know the difference, and discard any unofficial ballots.

The ballot box was secured overnight in a locked closet.

At the end of the second day of voting, the ballot box was brought into my classroom, in full view of my students and opened. There were a few unofficial ballots in the box. They were discarded. There were also a few ballots that did not have the number of their choice indicated, but named their choice. Since their intent was evident, their votes were counted. Ballots were sorted. I counted the ballots, then passed them to my student assistant who verified the count. Our counts were recorded, and the winners declared.

How hard was that?
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kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 12:07 AM
Response to Original message
1. I have to ask, what if the principle would have
come into the classroom and told you that, you had to stop counting the ballots? Do you think the fourth graders would have been the least bit suspicious. K&R..........
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livvy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 12:38 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. You bet they would have.
They would have cried foul very loud and clear. There is nothing like a child when it comes to the concept of fairness.
However, if your question is would they have challenged him...probably not. At the most, one or two may have asked, "Why?", but a front on challenge...no.
I would have heard about it after he left. They would have said it wasn't fair, and they would have been very upset.
I purposely chose to count the ballots in front of them, so that they knew the count was fair, and honest. You have to practice what you preach so to speak, even with a silly little "election" of the best project.
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Kip Humphrey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 10:50 AM
Response to Original message
3. Where's the proprietary, trade secret software running on unsecured, unreliable hardware?
Edited on Sat Dec-16-06 10:51 AM by Kip Humphrey
Giving young kids an experience of how elections can and should work is a great idea! How old should kids be before they learn how voting is really conducted in this country?
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Stevepol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 11:46 AM
Response to Original message
4. You are poisoning the minds of the innocent children.
I hope to God for your sake no neocons find out what you've done.

May God preserve us from the insidious threat of real democracy.
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livvy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. Maybe I should take the day off Monday, just in case they had time to
organize over the weekend. :scared:
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 04:31 PM
Response to Original message
5. Livvy, stop tryin to cloud the issue with your darn democracy
Shame on you......
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livvy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 07:29 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. You're right....what was I thinking? Now they're going to expect to have...
this kind of voice all the time. I must stop spoiling them so.
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galloglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-19-06 07:46 PM
Response to Reply #6
17. Hi livvy,
livvy,


Why don't you now give them a real Civics lesson?

Just set up the same scenario and run it again, with one alteration... announced as late as possible into the program.

Offer them the vote but, at the last moment, tell them that "extra ballots" will go on sale for 50 cents apiece, and will be available one hour before the count begins.


If you want them to really learn the facts of life, run the final count, announce the "preliminary" results, and then offer them an "open voting period" with "supplemental ballots", available for $3.00 a ballot.

Then let me know what the kids think of that!



Although, the whole idea is sooooo twisted <grimace> that, if I were me, I would hunt myself down tonight and burn my house down around my head.

(See what happens when you try to teach kids??)

To everyone else:

Please put down your torches and nooses and help livvy turn the page... uh, really.... Uh, pretty please?? <galloglas backing out the door>











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emlev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-17-06 12:49 AM
Response to Original message
8. A different story
My daughter and I were going to watch a DVD. I'd rented two. One was American Blackout (Cynthia McKinney). The other was Over the Hedge. I suggested we vote. I made two ballots, each with a checkbox next to each movie's name. I said, "You can only vote for one. If you vote for two, your vote doesn't count." I pre-marked her ballot for the movie I wanted to watch. I handed it to her.

She was no happier than the voters in Ohio were when they got ballots in 11/04 pre-punched for Bush.

I think it helped her understand my work a bit more.
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Stevepol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-17-06 05:15 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Thank you emlev. Finally, somebody who loves America!
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emlev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-17-06 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. ;-)
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puebloknot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-17-06 08:35 AM
Response to Original message
10. Heard of that book titled "Teaching as a Subversive Activity"?
Maybe you wrote it! :)
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-18-06 04:08 AM
Response to Original message
12. Counting 40-70 ballots by hand is pretty easy, to be sure.
Counting 750,000 with 1000+ different ballot styles is a lot harder. Hand counts are the gold standard--but only for one contest. Start adding 2 to 20 more, and optical scanning is much more accurate. Provided that nobody is screwing with the tabulator, of course. Solution? Mandatory audits of course.
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livvy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-18-06 06:13 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. There were slightly over 200 ballots. It took roughly 15 minutes to...
sort, count, and verify the count. It was easy, and yes, it would be much more time-consuming and problematic in a normal city/county, etc. election.
I also agree mandatory audits should be in place.
I joked with my class before the vote, that it would be by paper ballots, hand-counted in the classroom....no touchscreen voting allowed, or computer counting. I really don't think most of them got that part, but they did get it that the "election" was fair, the results were clear, and that it was their choice, not mine, for the best project submitted.
Lesson taught, lesson learned, objective achieved.
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-18-06 03:50 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. It was a great thing to do in the classroom
I hope you have a lot of imitators. Still, there are real problems of scale that need addressing.
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livvy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-19-06 05:31 AM
Response to Reply #12
15. ....Provided that nobody is screwing with the tabulator, of course....
That really is a key. None of the machines in use are screw-proof, and we have no way of knowing if they've been screwed with or not. Random, mandatory hand-counted paper ballots would be a start, but not the end solution.
Maybe we need to change the way we hold elections. Perhaps more frequent elections, with fewer contests in each would pave the way to getting rid of the machines. There is no reason why local issues have to be on the same ballot, on the same day that the election for state issues/candidates are decided, nor they on the same day/ballot as federal issues/candidates. There is also no reason why we have to have "instant" results.
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diva77 Donating Member (999 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-19-06 10:35 AM
Response to Reply #12
16. If you count at the precinct level you don't have to view the problem as
"counting 750,000 and 1000+ different ballot styles." People last about 4 hours on the job and each race takes about 15 min. per 150 ballots to count with the sort and stack method (some races may require different methods of counting). Instead of bringing in machinery that can't be trusted to do what it's supposed to do -- optiscans

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/5921.html...

it would be better to mobilize enough people in a precinct proportional to the number of ballots cast -- enough to count all of the votes for all of the races, but only requiring each person doing the counting to be on the job for 4 hours.
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dlaliberte Donating Member (168 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-19-06 09:55 PM
Response to Original message
18. Consider using Approval Voting next time
Since there were many candidates in this primary election, one for each student in a classroom, then a single-vote Plurality system is not very good at selecting the overall most preferred candidate. A voter must decide where to place their one vote to not "waste" it on a candidate who is unlikely to win. They should instead somehow anticipate other voters and vote for the one candidate that they most prefer who is also most likely to win. That is difficult to do and fraught with potential for "gaming".

This would be a great example of where Approval Voting works far better than Plurality Voting. Voters simply select as many candidates as they "approve" of, and the candidate with the most approval votes wins.

We need to educate people about more than how to run an honest election (heck, that should be trivial by now, but apparently we are still learning...) To be truly democratic, we also need to run elections that more accurately reflect the preferences of the voters, and that will require many other changes in our standard practices, from updating our election system (e.g. Approval Voting) to imposing sufficient campaign finance reform. Lots of work ahead of us.
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