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Wed Nov 23, 2016, 03:54 PM

I've one wish about elections and counting votes

I wish for accuracy over speed. I wish they would take time to count all the votes, recount if need be or they are close, before announcing results.

I would much prefer to be in stressful limbo for a week than have someone declared winner based on partial information.

It also would make many feel their votes counted, it they were counted before any announcement.

That's my wish.

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Reply I've one wish about elections and counting votes (Original post)
uppityperson Nov 2016 OP
SickOfTheOnePct Nov 2016 #1
uppityperson Nov 2016 #3
Igel Nov 2016 #2

Response to uppityperson (Original post)

Wed Nov 23, 2016, 03:57 PM

1. Thing is

they already do that. ALL of the election night numbers are unofficial - the canvassing of votes begins in earnest the next day, and that's where manual math errors are found, where transposed numbers are fixed, where vote categorization errors are corrected, etc. That's why official results aren't normally certified for weeks after the election.

The problem is that people look at the unofficial results, take them as gospel, then cry "conspiracy!!" when errors are corrected. Instead of being glad that errors are caught and fixed, they complain about it.

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Response to SickOfTheOnePct (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 23, 2016, 04:57 PM

3. And a "winner" is declared before the votes are officially certified. That is my complaint.

Don't declare a winner until the votes are official

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Response to uppityperson (Original post)

Wed Nov 23, 2016, 04:16 PM

2. There are two counts.

The first is election night. Every precinct comes up with a vote count. That gets aggregated by the BOE and by the state election agency and those numbers have been reported for as long as I've been aware of elections, so since '72. In highly electronic-voting areas, the precinct doesn't have much to report. When I worked polls in Rochester, we had to crack open the back of the voting machine and report the totals by measure or office, and then reseal it. And, yes, they gave us unused tamper-proof seals for this purpose.

Those are the vote counts that have been around for the last couple of weeks. They can easily have mistakes. Once another poll worker and I were reading off the tallies from the back of the machine and the guy writing them down got the numbers wrong. We double checked and caught the mistake, but that doesn't mean there weren't mistakes we didn't catch. If you dig into the errors admitted in preliminary election results you keep finding the same kinds of mistakes--double counting, forgetting to count, numbers transposed within a column or between columns.

Note that the unofficial count can be wrong and can also be unrepairable. That's not so common and the mistakes are likely not systemic.


The second and official vote count is later, when the official canvassers recount everything carefully. Any discrepancies between the two counts get reconciled. Provisional ballots, absentee ballots get pitched into the lot. This counting takes a while since it has to be verifiable and contestable. It's the official total that gets reported to the state.

So your vote doesn't not count; it counts twice.

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