did someone muck with the backend here

Re: Guest Post - the Buyback Bubble

1

I'm too beaten down to read and evaluate any article on anything, but if executives don't know what to do with their profits, they should return the money to shareholders. Shareholders can invest it somewhere else, or spend it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:27 AM
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But of course the employees are sure to make better choices (economically speaking) if you give them the money.

On OP.2, the answer keeps being that folks have to fucking vote. I don't like the ruling at all, but people have to fucking vote.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:30 AM
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If the modal company has sufficient profits that it can't invest, it means the labor market is broken. This situations shouldn't exist in a free market.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:31 AM
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1: That makes sense to me, but the article says that corporations are going into debt to give money to shareholders which seems crazy to me. But I don't claim to actually understand any of this.

This time, however, it's not households using cheap debt to take cash out of their overvalued homes. Rather, it is giant corporations using cheap debt -- and a one-time tax windfall -- to take cash from their balance sheets and send it to shareholders in the form of increased dividends and, in particular, stock buybacks. As before, the cash-outs are helping to drive debt -- corporate debt -- to record levels.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:34 AM
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2: Sure, they should pay more, or use the money to feed the homeless or something. But have you looked at which country you're living in?

4: Too enervated to follow links or read words. Even YouTube videos are a challenge.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:37 AM
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"Modal company" might not be right--I could imagine a situation where most sectors are less profitable than average but there are a small number of highly profitable sectors; buybacks would let the investor class transfer money to more profitable sectors. There would be a short-term economic profit as capital flows into more efficient areas.

As for voting, yes, people need to vote, and there's a local extremum problem, but we need to improve the system so people can vote. It's easy for me, but it isn't easy for everyone.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:38 AM
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Dividends on credit makes no sense, but buybacks on credit do: they concentrate ownership with the remaining shareholders, so letting them hold more long-term earning power.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:38 AM
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At least part of the buybacks on credit are straightforward tax evasion. You can pay out foreign profits to domestic shareholders without ever repatriating the profits.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:42 AM
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Tax avoidance, presumably.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:45 AM
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The linked article and framing read to me (what do I know) as overly hysterical, but I also think 1, while true, understates the short-term incentives both management and institutional shareholders have to boost short term share price at the expense of long term investment, since their compensation (and more broadly worldview of success) is set so heavily by immediate share price. Sure, at some point that will be offset by arbitrage and short-sellers if you're really just obviously pumping and dumping your own company but ISTM given how compensation and control structures work that there's sure an awful lot of room for management/investors to prefer to pump the share price at the expense of investment that would long term be better for everyone.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 9:21 AM
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Let me put it like this: there are 99 problems with management, but the investment/buyback choice ain't one.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 10:07 AM
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the article says that corporations are going into debt to give money to shareholders which seems crazy to me

I think it may be similar to how private equity sometimes operates, just self-initiated. By taking on debt, executives/directors have another tool to painfully squeeze salaries and prices - look, we'll go out of business otherwise! If they succeed even in the short-term, big payouts all around. If they fail, they parachute out and maybe get a percentage on looting the assets too.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 10:10 AM
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I think that's what I thought, too. A leveraged buy-out from within. I assume the dividends are only part of it to keep stockholders from complaining that the company is being eaten alive.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 10:16 AM
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LBOs aren't just (or necessarily, or always, or maybe even mostly) looting. But also a share buyback isn't even close in terms of leverage and incentives to an LBO. Debt is taken on either as tax avoidance or for corporate governance reasons or maybe just general stupidity, but the two situations aren't (ISTM) generally comparable. My only beef with 1 is that I'm pretty sure management is *too* incentivized to pick buybacks as an option for corporate profits compared to other things, albeit many of those other things might also be pretty bad. Anyhow pretty sure the linked article is overwritten, but IANAFinanceGuy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 10:37 AM
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Nice that we are using deficit-financed tax policy to juice the economy in the middle of an economic boom. And the next time a recession comes around, we'll get to hear all about the importance of cutting spending.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 10:58 AM
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15: Just in time for Democrats to sorta have power and take the blame.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:14 AM
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Which, for reals, are you all telling your congresscritters to admit DC and PR ASAP? Because I, imaginary internet person, think you really should.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:17 AM
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We're playing defense until next year.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:30 AM
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The Young Democrats of America are strongly in favor of statehood for DC and Puerto Rico:

8. Passage of the DC Voting Rights Act as a necessary but insufficient step toward full representation and the eventual statehood of the District of Columbia; and the abolishment of the tyrannical practice of taxation without representation wherever it exists.
11. We believe Congress must act on the will of the people of Puerto Rico and approve an enabling act with terms for Puerto Rico's admission as a state of the Union. The people of Puerto Rico have exercised their right to self-determination, resulting in an overwhelming support for Statehood. Thus, we support granting the full admission of Puerto Rico as a state of our Union.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:33 AM
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Granting Puerto Rico statehood is clearly better than the status quo, but using a referendum with 23% turnout to determine a constitutional issue is not great.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:37 AM
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Well, it'll be a while before anything actually happens. It would be interesting to see the results of a post-hurricane referendum.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:41 AM
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I'm not sure a majority of the population of Puerto Rico wants it to be a state (for a long time its politics were very clear that it didn't, not sure if that has changed since Maria). I suspect DC statehood would pass easily in a DC referendum but I don't know if it has been voted on recently.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:41 AM
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Granting Puerto Rico statehood is clearly better than the status quo, but using a referendum with 23% turnout to determine a constitutional issue and letting Republicans steal your country and destroy the world is not great.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:41 AM
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But I do get the impression that the pro-statehood people are particularly influential among the Puerto Rico Young Dems, which would influence the way they present the issue to the national group.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:42 AM
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And also all the other random islands. How many of those would be red? Guam?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:44 AM
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I'm not sure about the politics of Guam, which consists largely of a bunch of big military bases. The Northern Marianas are heavily Republican and I think the Virgin Islands lean to the right too but probably not as much. American Samoans aren't citizens and can't vote.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:47 AM
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Puerto Rican politics (about which I don't claim any expertise, this comment basically exhausts my knowledge) are super complicated and don't really track the Democratic/Republican divide in the US at all. Basically for a long time there was a keep-the-status quo party, an independent Puerto Rico party, and a pro-statehood party, and for most of the time the combination of 1+2 was overwhelmingly larger than 3. Though it looks like that's changing rapidly since Puerto Rico's status as a tax haven has been largely revoked and was kind of a disaster anyway, and the independence movement has been in big decline.

You can learn more than I know here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_party_strength_in_Puerto_Rico


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:49 AM
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Puerto Rican internal statehood politics seems to be as complex as Schleswig-Holstein. I don't understand why they can't boil it down to an up-or-down vote.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:49 AM
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26: Apparently lots of veterans retire/migrate there.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:50 AM
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(Guam)


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:50 AM
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28: I bet if that Enabling Act came attache to a shitton of reconstruction money minds would clarify.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:52 AM
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So much goddamn money it has its own attache, which is like, the money, pieces of paper.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:54 AM
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23: I can have two thoughts. I was referring to the YDA platform--it is not true that Puerto Ricans overwhelming supported Statehood, it's true that a small, self-selecting (there was a boycott) subset did. We should not consider referenda with not many people voting to be legitimizing events. Ditto very close referenda.

Guam has less than a third of the population of Wyoming; NMI, USVI, and American Samoa are even smaller. It'd muck up proportional representation in the Senate even more to add any of them.

DC getting Statehood could be great, but is there any path to do that without an Amendment? I guess we wouldn't need one to shrink the federal district to only be the area around the Capitol and The Mall, since we didn't need an amendment for the Virginia Retrocession.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:54 AM
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32: For that much money you would clearly need an attache case.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:56 AM
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33.2: I'm thinking, mucking it up is fine if that assists in the world not getting destroyed.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:57 AM
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So much damned money it needs its own platinum coin.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:57 AM
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We should add Guam to Wyoming.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:59 AM
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35: If we have enough votes to add hypothetical Democratic-leaning rotten boroughs to the Senate, we have enough votes to fix shit properly.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 11:59 AM
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38: To fix the representational problems of Congress properly? (I agree in principle, but desperate times.)


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:01 PM
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Winning elections is a lot easier than adding states, and a necessary prerequisite for it anyway.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:01 PM
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Right. Per the constitution there needs to be something called a "District" that is the "seat of government of the United States" and is not a state, but it's size isn't set and it could -- maybe -- be basically the Capitol, the Mall, the Supreme Court, and the White House. Though if that were tried by Congress the acceptance of DC as a State would be litigated to the Supreme Court. And if the Court were still controlled by Republicans the Court could reasonably easily hold that the constitutional language about a "District" of a maximum size of 10 miles indicates some intent by the framers that there be a genuine "town" inside the federal district and not just a few buildings.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:02 PM
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Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the field goal kicker can't be a mule the district can't be a commonwealth.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:05 PM
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Anyway, why doesn't Maryland have as much constitutional right to be shitty as Virginia does?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:12 PM
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I guess adding states is easier than changing the constitution, but still, winning an election is easier.

It'd be nice if the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact happens, and not inconceivable. At least one of our branches's electoral issues would be fixed. (Well, mostly fixed. I could imagine faithless electors become more common if that happens.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:15 PM
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On the Supreme Court Voter Discouragement Act, I wonder if that can't be made useful. Like running ads reminding people to vote or lose the right to vote. Vote for Congress so you can vote for president in two years. Would that work to increase turnout or be counterproductive?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:17 PM
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I am dying of suspense waiting for the Wisconsin gerrymandering case to come down.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:34 PM
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I guess I was too stuck on our local gerrymander. I hadn't heard of that one before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:44 PM
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While you're waiting, enjoy this Gorsuch dissent, which IMO would create a crazier and more enacting-Herbert-Spencer's-social-statistics-as-the Constitution than even Lochner did. Batshit insane!

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-1432_7j8b.pdf


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:46 PM
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(basically, Gorsuch thinks that existing contracts cannot be interfered with by the states, constitutionally, for almost any reason. This would, among other things, prevent states from raising the minimum wage for existing employees, or likely from enacting almost any labor legislation for the benefit of existing employees, at all.)


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:51 PM
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I got as far as "life insurance" and couldn't keep reading.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 12:53 PM
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49: Sovereignty that doesn't let you invalidate contracts you aren't a party to is pretty shitty sovereignty.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 1:07 PM
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Gorsuch recognizes that above all else, what must be prioritized is predictability and stability, to have any chance of businesses being confident enough to provide prosperity for all. You saw how businesses were always bellyaching about the Obama administration's unconstitutional nudges and tyrannical attempts to optimize policy at the margins in ways nobody would notice. This is being exemplified right now by the apotheosis of Gorsuch's political movement, Grandpa Trump.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 1:16 PM
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Wouldn't the easy thing be to retrocede most of DC to Maryland, leaving a rump "district"? It doesn't help the Senate, but gives one more representative to MD.

It'll never happen, but giving the VA and FL panhandles to KY and AL respectively would go a long way to keeping those states blue.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 1:25 PM
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Alabama is objectively worse than Florida, but it feels like it has more dignity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 1:27 PM
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Presumably any real attempt to play hardball also means we pack or take jurisdiction away from the court.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 1:29 PM
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I'd pack it--they broke the rules, they can deal with the consequences--and also remove lifetime appointments.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 1:31 PM
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Of course, DC is already a rightful part of Maryland and also if Maryland agrees to take it back, they should get another Senator as part of the deal.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 1:46 PM
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I got as far as "life insurance" and couldn't keep reading.

I am not a lawyer, but that was interesting, and as I read it one of the key disputes in the case occurs because of the nature of life insurance.

As I read it we have:

1) A law that says if somebody's life insurance beneficiary is their spouse and they divorce the spouse will be removed from their position as beneficiary unless the person takes action to retain them (changing the status quo in which the policy would remain unchanged unless action was taken), and that this applies retroactively.

2) The majority thinks that this doesn't constitute a "substantial impairment" of the existing contract because the person being affected, the ex-spouse, had no control over their status as beneficiary to begin with. The policy-holder could change that at any time.

3) Gorsuch claims that it is, prima facia, a substantial impairment because the beneficiary is the most significant element in the existing contract.

4) This dispute is possible, in part, because the claim in (2) works because the perspective of the policy holder isn't available to the court because the policy holder is dead. If that wasn't the case then, presumably, the most important question would be the wishes of the policy holder, and the court wouldn't have to rely on inference for that.

Is that a fair summary?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 1:46 PM
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I am dying of suspense waiting for the Wisconsin gerrymandering case to come down.

Me tooooooooooooo.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 1:54 PM
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That strikes me as a funny thing to write a law about. I guess people forget they have policies, but I think plenty of divorce settlements involve keeping an ex on a life insurance policy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 2:04 PM
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So the Orange Menace just traded our alliances in North Asia for some really cool beads? Better this than turning Bolton loose, but I fear the two may not be mutually exclusive when Trump realizes he has once again made an ass of himself.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 2:49 PM
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...NE Asia...


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 2:51 PM
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I do not think we need to worry that Trump will realize that he has once again made an ass of himself. He does not appear to reevaluate his past actions.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 3:02 PM
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OK, to be technical, will realize that the reviews are in and they say that he made an ass of himself. Then his story will be that he made a heroic effort for peace but Kim just can't be trusted and must be destroyed.

(Remember when Justin Trudeau was his buddy? Fortunately Canada isn't likely to nuke us.)


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 3:07 PM
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alliances in North Asia

Ally with Sakha Republic! US/Sakha Republic mutual cooperation agreement! I am into this.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 3:09 PM
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alliances in North Asia

Ally with Sakha Republic! US/Sakha Republic mutual cooperation agreement! I am into this.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 3:09 PM
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I am really into this.

58 - that's basically right (except for point (4) -- it's not so much that the policyholder is dead; the law would apply to divorced policyholders who are alive during their lifetime, and as a default rule the ex-spouses of alive people are no longer, under the law, beneficiaries. Instead the Court finds that the law doesn't substantially impair the contract for other reasons.)

But Gorsuch's position on the "substantial impairment" issue isn't what makes his dissent crazy; it's his idea that the contract clause should be interpreted rigidly to ban almost all retrocative impairments of contracts, even fairly minor ones, by States for almost any reason. That's a super-radical idea that would effectively mandate right-libertarianism as the US Constitution and prevent states from acting contrary to right-libertarianism. Insane!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 3:25 PM
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You people are thinking small. DC should annex the rural south.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 3:49 PM
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I think the precedent set by Arlington out to be followed.

The situation in the USVI, as of my long Friday conversation with my friend and co-counsel there, is just unbelievably bleak.

Doesn't matter what states you create or what fantasy constitutional amendments you get through, it's all for naught if people don't fucking vote. The 2018 election features a number of red state blue senators running for re-election. They won in 2012 because people fucking voted. They're not going to win if people don't fucking vote this time. Next time, as last time, we had some blue state red senators. Guess why they got elected? Hint: ______ didn't _______ ____.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:10 PM
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Yes, ideally we should abolish the Senate (or make it proportional, or remove its ability to block bills passed by two consecutive Houses, many options exist), but in the meantime, its malapportionment is deeply reactionary in effect (enhancing the power of rural and suburban voters), and as such using Congress's constitutional majority power to add a bunch of small states would just tilt the scales a little back in a fairer direction. Not to mention empowering a bunch of people of color who are in many ways subjects rather than citizens, finally establishing the principle that all citizens may vote for all national bodies/offices, and possibly keeping the world from ending.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:16 PM
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70: From a little quick Googling, the bottom 10 states by population have 12 D Senators, 8 Rs, and 2 independents (Sanders and King). Senate apportionment is messed up, but hard to see it as a fundamentally reactionary entrenchment of rural and suburban power. House gerrymandering, on the other hand....


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:37 PM
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BVI was pretty bad when I saw it. The damage was intense, but what really costs is having the tourism industry shut down for a year.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:40 PM
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There is at least one more Dakota than is strictly necessary, and it was absolutely created for the purpose of putting more Republicans in the Senate.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:42 PM
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70,71: The next ten do swing pretty hard R, though: 16-4.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:43 PM
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No argument with 73. I'd be fine with applying the same principle to Carolinas, but perhaps there's something to be said for preserving and honoring SC's abiding commitment to pure bugfuck insanity. No other state can come close to having been so crazy for so long.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:46 PM
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A rational basis for deciding what ought to be a state would go a long way.

But it's true that there are at least as many D tiny states as R. And that you can kinda justify the existence of some of the tiny R states because they are physically very big, but several of the tiny D states are not. My simplest proposal:

Divide WY among its neighbors
Reunite the Dakotas
Merge VT and NH
Merge DE and MD and add most of DC
Admit PR
Divide CA and TX

This gets rid of most of the obvious abnormalities (all states but AK have at least a million people), but its effect on the Senate is to add just 2 net D senators.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:53 PM
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Realistically RI should be folded into CT too, and that makes the net effect politically neutral.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:55 PM
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Hmm, combining both Dakotas with Wyoming would boost the resulting megastate all the way to number 36 by population. Throw in Montana if you're worried about geographic compactness and you'd get clear up to 30th.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:56 PM
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Texas and California are already divided, mostly by Arizona.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:56 PM
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That megastate is over 50% larger than TX.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:58 PM
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I call it the Empty Quarter.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 5:59 PM
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80: This is sounding better and better.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 6:04 PM
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Strategic. Bison. Reserve.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 6:12 PM
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I understand that Canada has been stockpiling bison in Saskatchewan. If the US doesn't get its act together, there is going to be a serious bison gap.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 6:20 PM
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For the record, I am also OK with merging the Dakotas with Saskatchewan. We can trade dairy products to Canada for delicious bison steaks.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 6:27 PM
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Bison prostitution.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 6:32 PM
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ISTR an analysis that through whatever combination of state size and current electoral makeup, suburban/rural/white voters do effectively wield more electoral votes at the moment.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 6:33 PM
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87: That I definitely believe. But I think it's driven more by House districting and the fact that the concentration of D votes in urban areas is higher than the concentration of R votes elsewhere, which is exacerbated by gerrymandering.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 6:39 PM
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Ugh, that sentence was a mess. What I'm trying to say is that partisan population distribution favors the Rs to begin with (because more Ds in overwhelmingly D areas) and the Rs further that advantage through aggressive gerrymandering.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 6:43 PM
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And while we're just mostly griping, why is the asshole stopping here for fuel on the way home from Singapore instead of somewhere sensible like Elmendorf? Does he think great circle routes are some sort of weird Obama plot?


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 6:48 PM
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Speaking of elections and states, why can't California count faster?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 7:23 PM
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Through whatever combination of enfranchising smaller states and disenfranchising larger states, by my calculation if Senators got votes based on their state's proportion of 50-state population, it would be 56-44 Dem. (Including Sanders and King on the Dem side, although they'd each have about 0.2 votes.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 7:25 PM
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Does he think great circle routes are some sort of weird Obama plot?

I honestly believe that something like this is the case. It was easier to tell him they were flying through Hawaii than to explain to him why its faster to go over Alaska.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 7:53 PM
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61 looks alarmist. No alliances have died, Trump just suspended joint exercises with the ROK in exchange for nothing significant. It's very bad, but only incrementally so; another Trump week, basically.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:13 PM
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But I guess he gains a day crossing the dateline? So a worse week.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:18 PM
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Elmendorf

If any branch of the military was going to let its Forgotten Realms/Harry Potter/Tolkien nerd flag fly with base names, I guess it'd have to be the USAF.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:19 PM
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93 is plausible. Plus routing via Moscow would be roughly equidistant to routing via Alaska, so if they did get him to understand great circles he'd just want to go check in with Vlad on the way home.

94: Well, yes, but when an ordinary Trump week includes picking fights with the EU and Canada, that bar couldn't get much lower. If you're Japan or South Korea today, you're probably thinking a just a little more seriously about how quickly you could assemble nukes in a pinch.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:32 PM
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Trump's fairly popular in Alaska these days on account of ANWR, so it does seem odd that they wouldn't stop here and try to squeeze in a campaign event or something.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:33 PM
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Maybe if Canada gets nukes, Trump will start being nice to Justin Timberlake again.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-12-18 8:37 PM
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91: I read an article about this after the 2016 election. The main issue is that a lot of California voters are now electing to vote by mail, and many are returning ballots that turn out to not be machine-readable as is (coffee stains on the ballot are one issue that's been cited as a problem). When you vote in person, the tallying machine tells you right away whether or not the ballot was able to be read, so the voter can fix the problem if the ballot is rejected. For the mail-in ballots, when a ballot is not machine-readable, the counters generally have to go through a procedure to create a replica of the ballot that can be read by the machine, and that is by its nature labor-intensive because of all the precautions they have to take against fraud or mistake.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 1:33 AM
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I'm deeply opposed to voting by mail - the point of having a secret ballot isn't that you can't tell people how you voted, it's that you can't be made to prove it. So you can tell your boss or your priest or your husband that yes, of course you voted the way they told you - and there's nothing you can do to prove to them you aren't lying.
If you vote by mail, you just get all your followers or employees or family members to sit round a table and fill in their ballots, and you can check before they're posted that they've all been filled in correctly.
Yes, this happens in vote-by-mail elections.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 3:01 AM
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101: Yes, this. I'm not sure it gets me to deeply opposed, because all the people I generally politically trust are lined up on vote-by-mail as a way to increase access, and the combination of my concerns and my wanting to trust people I generally agree with leaves me puzzled. But I'm at least really worried about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 3:59 AM
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I worry that some of the people who push it are too immersed in generally functioning parts of the country to have a good understanding of how much control being able to provide $20/hour jobs gets you in so much of the country.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 4:06 AM
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It's possible that voting by mail can have all those drawbacks but still be a net improvement for access if it means that poor people don't have to queue for six hours to vote any more. 101 may be a bit first world problems.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 5:23 AM
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That depends on whether you think Bradford is in the first world. I was told up there of immense amounts of ballot stuffing and mail fraud mostly run by landlords, who would sell and then deliver the votes of all their tenants in multi-occupancy buildings.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 5:32 AM
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105: that's what I meant in 101.last. But, as I say, worrying about that when you have to queue up for six hours to vote in person may be a mistake.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 5:34 AM
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Is that the Bradford where they sell the collectable plates?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 6:02 AM
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In theory, vote-by-mail is risky for all the reasons in 101. In practice, social pressure and groupthink do a perfectly good job of getting people to vote in lockstep either way, so the net effect is the same.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 6:13 AM
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108: no. Secret ballots are still valuable!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 6:24 AM
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Yes. There were common practices, such as collecting completed ballots before paying employees, that were way more effective than social pressure and group think. Which is to say, 103 to 108.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 6:42 AM
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Not to mention the husband forcing the wife to vote a certain way.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 6:47 AM
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||

Ajay: Steven Jackson Games now has triplanetary available for pre-order. The price seems expensive to me, but presumably it's not going to be a big seller so the print run is probably small and fixed costs spread among a smaller number of units.

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 6:51 AM
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111: For instance.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 6:55 AM
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I am more or less aligned with 102. In part because the last actual* significant voter fraud in the US that I know of involved absentee ballots in a Miami mayoral election in the late 1990s. This is why absentee ballots** are front and center in the Republican anti-voter fraud efforts ...

Amoral intellectually dishonest fuckwads in every single thing they do.

*I mean other than the continuing fraudulent restriction of the franchise. In some cases legal, but fraudulent to its core.

**Traditionally, of course, absentee voters have trended Republican relative to the entire voting population. However, in the Lamb/Saccone special Lamb over-preformed in absentees. This was apparently what led Saccone to briefly look to aggressively contest the results.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:05 AM
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94: 61 looks alarmist.

I would say rather that it is hyperbole, and in that spirit, I am onboard with 61, though it's not clear to me that Trump got anything as valuable as beads out of it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:21 AM
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76. As a MD irredentist I support your proposals. Still, you missed "including the southern ten miles of PA," which is part of our program.

I was looking at the apportionment mechanism for House seats and adding DC to MD would probably gain MD an additional House seat. Adding DC as a state in its own right would (of course) give it a House seat, but it would be one of the smallest states by population. The certainty that it would add two Democratic Senators dooms it anyway as long as Republicans exist.

104. It would seem a better solution if poor people are standing in line for six hours (how common is this?) would be to have more polling places and/or multi-day (possibly weekend?) voting. Voting by mail has all sorts of security and privacy drawbacks, second only to voting by internet. "First-world problem" is too dismissive.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:32 AM
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101-102 et al:

"In each age it is necessary to adapt to the popular mythology. At one time kings were anointed by Deity, so the problem was to see to it that Deity anointed the right candidate. In this age the myth is 'the will of the people' ... but the problem changes only superficially."

Posted by: OPINIONATED ROBERT A. HEINLEIN | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:37 AM
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61 & 94. Did he also agree that all US troops would be withdrawn from SK?* They are basically there to put US lives on the line if NK attacks SK, and so the exercises themselves are useful but not utterly necessary to deter NK.

*I really don't want to know the answer because Trump will change his mind no matter what it is, and in any case, I like to pretend he doesn't exist or at worst that there is an idos of Trump who is no worse than Reagan or Nixon. The latter requires ignoring most of what he says and does and is therefore difficult to maintain.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:38 AM
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112 is excellent news.

I agree completely with 116.last. Yes, voting should be multi-day. The UK's last multi-day election was, I think, 1945, when the ballot was open for several weeks - though I am not sure whether that meant that people in any given constituency had the choice of several days on which to vote.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:39 AM
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116.3: I believe your missing the irony. ajay is saying that a poor 3rd world country like the U.S. obviously can't afford to have more polling places or staff existing polling places for longer.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:40 AM
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118.1: No.
Also 2nd 116 last.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:41 AM
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102: Thanks for saying this. I'm skeptical about it, too. But it lets people vote who might otherwise not be able to vote. Man, I don't know.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:41 AM
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120: peep, when explaining irony it's best to eschew irony yourself.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:42 AM
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The main issue is that a lot of California voters are now electing to vote by mail

We're changing the rules in multiple other ways that delay the count too. Examples:

* A mail-in ballot now has to be postmarked by election day and received within three days; not long ago it had to be received by election day.
* We don't yet have full same-day registration, but this year we started "conditional registration", where voters who miss the registration deadline can go to the county elections office all the way up to election day and register/vote. The resulting conditional ballots take more time to process.
* Five counties, including Sacramento, are piloting a replacement for polling places that has the understood side effect of more mail-in, provisional, and conditional ballots.

Probably more I don't know about, like outreach in more languages.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:52 AM
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Those seem like reasonable concerns about vote-by-mail, though I'm aware of no evidence that any of it changes any outcomes in vote-by-mail only states (WA, OR). Much like in person voter fraud is a reasonable concern, even though there's no evidence that it occurs. Just because one can tell a story of what might happen doesn't mean it happens. But of course maybe it doesn't happen because WA and OR are beacons of enlightenment.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 8:34 AM
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How would we know if it's happening? It's not fraud.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 8:47 AM
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I'm aware of no evidence that any of it changes any outcomes in vote-by-mail only states (WA, OR). Much like in person voter fraud is a reasonable concern, even though there's no evidence that it occurs. Just because one can tell a story of what might happen doesn't mean it happens.

See 105 for examples of it occurring elsewhere, though. The world outside Washington and Oregon? It exists.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 8:48 AM
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Another reason lots of people here put value on VBM is that it makes working through our long lists of ballot measures easier - you can sit down at home and make all your decisions in one sitting, then seal the ballot and draw a line under the whole thing.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 8:52 AM
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It seems to me to be systematically harder to detect than in-person voter fraud. And there's also a thing I worry about, where it takes people a while to get bright ideas: wholesale bullying people to fill out their ballots the right way en masse couldn't be done with secret ballots, and vote by mail (on a larger scale than small-scale absentee) is pretty new. This may not have been a problem yet, but that doesn't mean it won't be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 8:54 AM
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Systematic voter fraud, which is all anyone much cares about for election results, is generally harder to do and more traceable with vote by mail than at a polling place. Systematic or coercion to vote is a form of "voter fraud" in the lay sense and is also a crime -- while an individual instance might be harder to trace with an absentee/vote by mail ballot than at a poll (like for a private reason a husband makes a wofe vote one way without coordinating it) at a systematic level significant for election results it is probably easier (and not harder) to trace vote by mail coercion than polling place fraud (because there are more moving parts to commit the fraud). In any event there is zero evidence of this being a problem, and pretty good evidence that vote by mail makes it easier to vote and thus more likely that people will do so, albeit not by as mich as one would hope. I don't see the lroblem and there are probably 100,000 more important things tonworry about w our voting system.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 8:58 AM
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I suspect that husbands who coerce their wives are not uniformly distributed across the political spectrum. (I don't not think the correlation is perfect, either.) The individual coercions may not be systemic, but in aggregate they could matter.

ajay gave evidence it was a problem out his way, and we definitely thought it was enough of a problem to enact the secret ballot in the first place. I'm just surprised we've (you've) given it up so easily.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:03 AM
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I'm sure it's not a problem in California because all the evil in California is the lazy-type evil. I think it would be a problem to have vote by mail in central PA or something like that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:06 AM
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Oh great it's time for ignorant bloviating! The ballot is still "secret" in the sense that it can be as sexret as you want it to be. Forcing someone to fill out a ballot in the way you prefer, or filling it out for someone without their permission (you can always bring in someone to "help" you fill out a ballot even at a polling place) is a crime. At any level where thos would matter for an election result, it's easily traceable for vote by mail, because by definition you have to involve a lot of people over an extended period of time. If coercion at that level os going undetected in vote by mail lomiting votes at the balot box won't solve your problem either. Wake me up when this is a fucking problem and until then if you want to make it harder for people to vote go fuck yourself, is what I say.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:11 AM
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As a MD irredentist I support your proposals. Still, you missed "including the southern ten miles of PA," which is part of our program.

Sure, also Delaware, Tangier Island, the southern Delmarva Peninsula, and everything north of the Shenanadoah River. But those are all separate claims.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:11 AM
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I mean we have tiny turnout and affirmative voter intimidation on this country and this is what you're worried about? Fuck off.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:13 AM
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Back when the secret ballot was an important reform, wasn't the previous system voting publicly at polling places? (Or at least in a way transparent to the vote-taking officials.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:14 AM
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105 to 133


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:15 AM
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Yes it was!


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:15 AM
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Not that I'm worried, it's just that Americans seem to have been suckered into accepting incredibly low standards of election management and access. Based on how you people talk, the student council elections at my 3rd-world kleptocracy university (managed by the national electoral commission) had drastically better access and integrity than any public election in America.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:18 AM
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133: Just because I have concerns about a method doesn't mean you have to be an asshole about it. I just want to work out how much I should be concerned about those things in the lowest stakes possible, on an eclectic web-magazine. Either give me the benefit of the doubt, or let me know if you're slotting me in the dumbass-you-don't-listen-to category so we can both save time, please.

Yes, I realize that forcing someone to fill out a ballot in a certain way is a crime. One method makes the crime, in my reckoning, easier to commit. The coercion can happen in private. Someone helping someone at the ballot box at least requires acknowledgement by an election official.

At any level where thos would matter for an election result, it's easily traceable for vote by mail, because by definition you have to involve a lot of people over an extended period of time.

And each individual instance could involve a small number of people. It could happen gradually, as more people realize there are fewer checks--would it be easy to distinguish this in the after-the-fact statistics from a gradual realignment, or other natural change in voting patterns? I don't understand why you think it would be easy to trace.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:22 AM
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120. There are parts of the US that are in some respects like dirt poor third world countries. In terms of polling places and hours, this is sometimes deliberate, as in "saving money" by closing polling places in minority areas.

134. Don't reveal our entire set of demands too soon!

136. It was that way in colonial MA. You stood up or sometimes walked to the front of the church and stated your preferences. Church and state were essentially the same thing until the 1800s here. I don't think "they did it this way under a Puritan theocracy" is a very compelling argument, though.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:25 AM
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Oops, in 131 I meant NW, not ajay.

134: Obviously, us Pennamite irredentists still claim The Wedge.

136: Yes. It was a problem with that system. That bug needed to be worked out, and it took a long time to get that change. I don't recommend we go back to publicly visible ballots at polling places.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:27 AM
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In any event there is zero evidence of this being a problem,

Again, 105 gives actual examples of this being a problem. We have had prosecutions and convictions.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:27 AM
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Pennamite irredentists still claim The Wedge.

Nah, the Wedge is well below the 40th parallel, which means its part of Delaware County, MD.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:38 AM
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I have no idea what happened in Bradford, UK, and indeed barely know where that is, but from the description that is an easy and obviously traceable crime -- no different than polling place intimidation, voter impersenation, messing with the rolls, or any of the forms of transparent fraud that can happen at the polling place, but that are not materially relevant in the US system precisely because they are traceable and the risks essentially never outweigh the rewards.

To conduct a serious vote by mail fraud on an organized level, you would have to be either changing people's ballots (eg by coercion, or by fraudulently marking the ballots) or voting for people who would not otherwise have voted, on a large enough scale to matter in some way. Doing so involves multiple people and quite easily traceable accounts -- eg if someone is ordered in a group setting to vote in a particular way but didn't want to vote that way, there are almost by definition multiple witnesses. If a landlord is filling out and signing tenants ballots wothout their knowledge, that is quite easy to trace in a challenge. The likelihood that this would (a) be wodespread enough to be material without (b) causing people to get caught is very low, whichnis why ot would be a terrible move for campaigns -- and there are many better and much easier and more effective ways to manipulate the vote!

I don't really understand the "long term gradual problem" point. It's always been perfectly OK tonask hownsomeone voted or to encourage them, even strongly, into voting a particular way, albeit not to coerce them into doing so. For that matter it's usually been OK for a married couple to go into a polling booth together. It's legal to take a photo of yournown ballot. The secret ballot is a means of discouraging voter intimidation and coercion, but people don't vote in a confidential black box. You'd need some really extraordinary evidence to think on this context that a move to vote by mail was somehow gradually but imperceptibly increasing non-fraud boter coercion, and at least in the US there is none.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:45 AM
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The difference with vote by mail is that it allows the coercer to verify the vote. It's not that it allows coercion into a situation where there was none. It is true that nothing like that has happened lately, but there are very sound reasons that the secret ballot was adopted and pushed as a progressive reform.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:03 AM
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But if that verification happens, it is itself a crime. And if it happens on a material scale, easily checkable and prosecutable. The "secret ballot" was as pointed out above a response to public balloting, which vote by mail is not.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:08 AM
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I'm not so sure about that, unless the mailed ballots have the postmarks all scanned or something. I'm not inherently opposed to vote by mail, but I'm just cautious about it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:13 AM
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Thank you.

The legality of taking a picture of your ballot isn't universal, and in California was only changed two years ago (after not being enforced previously). In PA, it seems like it isn't legal, but probably isn't enforced. (I guess I'd probably yell at someone trying that, if I saw it.) Regardless, it takes the place where information is transferred from a moment in a ballot booth to an indefinite period of time in private, at the kitchen table (or in the back room at a small business). I'm perplexed as to how that could have only trivial effects.

We've seen that significant numbers of electoral votes can be decided by less than 45k votes. Could there be 23k asshole Republican husbands in Pennsylvania*? Why would that require really extraordinary evidence? You can still have it occur on a material scale but in a distributed fashion.

I do think the West Coast vote-by-mail system is probably better than the status quo we're using over here, but I don't think we can wave away these issues. It would be better if we could design a voting-remotely system that makes them non-issues.

* Yes. There are.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:14 AM
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I know that you can take a three-year-old in to the voting booth in PA and let him write-in "Elmo" for an uncontested race.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:18 AM
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Family members coerce other family members to do lots of things when there is no means of verification. I'm not convinced the overall incidence changes much by introducing verification. Psychological intimidation is quite powerful on its own.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:21 AM
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We're probably at the uninteresting, frustrating point in the argument, where one of us claims, without real evidence, that problems are real, and one of us claims, without real evidence, that they aren't, and there's no hope of either convincing the other. If we find an instance of this crime happening, you'll say "ah, see, it's an easy to identify crime," and if we can't find any, you'll say "ah, see, it doesn't occur." Conversely, if you say it's worked fine for CA or in the PNW, I'd say that that could be unique to your environment, you don't have enough data points yet, and regardless, you have no way of knowing, statistically, whether or not it has.

It would be nice if we could somehow determine the degree of this, even after the fact, but I'm not sure if that's possible given confounding factors.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:23 AM
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I mean, would I choose mandatory voting, election day holiday and multi-day voting. In a heartbeat! But since none of those are on the table, vote-by-mail seems like a net improvement.

And personally, I do find that 128 is a significant advantage. I make much more informed votes as a consequence.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:24 AM
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Also, what is the relative magnitude of home and workplace voter coercion in a vote-by-mail system vs. voter intimidation in a polling place system (esp. in for minorities worried about immigration status or discrimination in the American South, say?)


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:27 AM
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Personally, I assume that nearly all Republican complaints about the behavior of Democrats are projection. I therefore figure that if an avenue for vote fraud were to be made available, they already have plans to use it if they can.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:28 AM
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154: I don't think that vote by mail is a huge help against the very real problems voting the south because among the many issues caused by racial discrimination in the south, you also have concentrations people with low levels of literacy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:31 AM
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Minorities worried about immigration status, not being citizens, can't legally vote, no?

I'm not sure how much voter intimidation there is in polling place systems, although yes, long lines are used to reduce turnout in minority districts. (Registration can also be a problem, but that would occur under both systems.) I admit I don't know how to compare these issues.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:32 AM
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151 - yes. More broadly, I got rude about this because it seems like such a non-issue in this country compared to access. Even if there's some small tradeoff in terms of ease of informal coercion (I don't think there is -- and there certainly is not greater ease in systematic or intentional coercion, which is what matters) that is such an infinitesimally smaller problem than access. Something less than 50% of the voting age population votes routinely, and those nonvoters are vastly disproportionately poor. Some ephemeral concerns about a husband checking a wife's vote-by-mail ballot (as opposed to going into the polling booth with her, or asking her after the vote at the polling place how she voted) are, if they were real, a non-issue if fixing that problem materially deters access.

There's actually a decent theoretical case for abolishing the secret ballot entirely-- if voting was more of a communal activity, as it was in the 19th century, you'd certainly have higher participation, because you could shame people into not voting. And it would help embedding politics into other social organizations (unions, etc.) Since I don't really subscribe to the idea that people's individual preferences exist in isolation from others, I don't worry too much about social pressure -- as opposed to actual coercion -- in terms of voting. But obviously eliminating the secret ballot will never ever happen, would obviously require its own kinds of anti-coercion safeguards, and is thus theoretical wankery. Basically all conversations about voting reform in the US should be "access, access, access, access, access, access, access, everything else."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:37 AM
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It's surely better to focus on the huge problem that is minority voter suppression, although this can only be done in concert with registration fixes and willing state governments. But we're throwing away a hard-fought-for condition and we don't know the magnitude of the effect that'll have.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:38 AM
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Access is great, but I don't think vote by mail is a sufficient or necessary way to have access. It's just a way to be cheap about it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:39 AM
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Much as I am strongly in favor of vote-by-mail, there's no evidence that it increases turnout. Apparently, the only things that measurably do increase turnout are automatic voter registration, proportional representation, and instant runoff or ranked choice voting. Maybe Maine and SF will show us the way.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:42 AM
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158: Whether someone voted at all is public record, and that's orthogonal to the secret ballot. But apparently they make you $20 in PA if you want that info.

It seems like you and I are using different definitions of secret ballot? I don't count vote-by-mail as a secret ballot. Wikipedia has it as failing the criteria of the "Australian ballot," for the reasons I've mentioned.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:44 AM
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160 is totally right, vote by mail has been OK at expanding access but not nearly sufficient. 159 is silly. Very widespread vote by mail has been tried for years in California Washington and Oregon and there is essentially zero evidence of bad impact in areas that cover more than 15% of the US population and more than 50 million people. "Oh maybe there's bad impact we can't measure." OK then.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:44 AM
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SF will show us the way

There's too my dystopian science fiction works to make that reassuring.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:46 AM
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163 ignores a point I made earlier. I don't think "there were no problems in California" is the same as showing "there will be no problems when they try this in Altoona or Wheeling."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:47 AM
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It seems to me there's a difference between

1. required to be non-secret (old-timey voting)
2. required to be secret (modern non-mail)
and
3. you can choose whether it's secret or not (vote-by-mail).


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:48 AM
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Why? Because we're less corrupt? Take a close look at Bell, Lynwood, Cudahy, and Hawaiian Gardens.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:49 AM
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166: Yes. I would consider 3 to not be secret.

Have issues with polling places in California been anywhere like the magnitude we've seen in the South or elsewhere? Asked out of ignorance, but any discrepancy there could reveal that there might be regional discrepancies in the effects of other voting methodologies.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:53 AM
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Because you have lazy evil people. I've covered this.

Also, I'm sure there are communities where there could be potential for mail balloting to be corrupted, but nobody is trying because they won't get the 2.1 million votes they would need to flip to alter the presidential race. In PA, they only need a few thousand votes to flip the state and thus the incentives to try are much higher.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:54 AM
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157.2

There's not much evidence, but I'd be very surprised if a substantial amount of the lower turnout among minorities didn't come from a combination of long lines and people worried about being mistreated.

Just because you're a legal Hispanic citizen doesn't mean that some folks aren't (quite rightly!) worried about getting harassed or worse by ICE. Or if you have a criminal record, you might be (rightly!) worried about getting pinched by the cops.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:55 AM
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Anyway, I'm not by any means firmly set against voting by mail. I just want would rather the focus be on access (e.g. more polling places with longer hours) and automatic registration. And before voting by mail gets too broadly applied, I'd like to see how it works in a few shittier places.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:58 AM
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A colleague worked an election in Hawaiian Gardens in the 1990s where there were huge Samoan gangsters (paid by the other side, this was a referendum to license casino gambling in Hawaian Gardens and the Vegas casinos had hired the Samoan Crips as part of their vote-no campaign) who were intimidating people just outside the polling place. So his side brought in his own Samoans and also the police. This was on election day; a bomb had gone off in his campaign headquarters earlier. That's just one example. I don't even want to think about what farmer intimidation of farmworker voting has looked like in the Central Valley or Imperial County. Our elections aren't all Silicon Valley tech bloggers and wealthy Hollywood starlets mellowing out on the beach making peace signs, or something.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 10:59 AM
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170: I definitely agree about long lines/poor service, and to a lesser degree about being mistreated. The other issues only somewhat go away with voting by mail--if you're able to receive your ballot, they have a good idea of where you are.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:00 AM
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171 makes perfect sense.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:02 AM
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One other side effect is we no longer have the option of ballot measures that take effect the day after election day. Prop 71.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:04 AM
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I'd like to see how it works in a few shittier places.

I know we're supposed to think these days that white rural former coal miners are the only people in America worthy of consideration who live in shitholes but this fair state has some of the worst shitholes in America

Or, for that matter, rural Oregon in the former timber areas, or (maybe going off of outdated reputation here) Tacoma.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:07 AM
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That link was supposed to go here

http://graphics.latimes.com/san-bernardino/


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:08 AM
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I get that California has shitholes, but not at the level of aggregation I'm thinking of. The population of the shitholes isn't within the number of votes needed to flip the state.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:08 AM
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||
It's 2 in the goddamn morning. Buddhists have been intermittently setting off fireworks since 11:00. Like fucking big, loud, fireworks.
|>


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:09 AM
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We left Vietnam. What are they mad about now?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:10 AM
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Yes, but we have vote by mail for local races too in shithole areas, as well as in races (like ballot measures) that are extremely close and given to potential corruption.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:11 AM
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Fine. California is a shithole in the functional sense. I'm convinced.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:12 AM
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VICTORY.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:15 AM
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I meant to say SHITCTORY.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:15 AM
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You've undone all the good work of the Raisins and Swartzeneger's TV commercials.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:16 AM
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128 doesn't require voting by mail. I routinely do this kind of prep with my sample ballot at home, which I then take to the polls and copy onto my real ballot. My wife's been after me to sign up for vote-by-mail, but I like voting in person, which (1) makes sure my vote is counted in the election day totals, and (2) allows me to change my vote in response to late-breaking information (like the MT candidate who assaulted a reporter just before election day).


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:47 AM
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186.last is irrelevant here. We can drop our ballots either in the mail or in designated ballot drop-off sites on election day.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:49 AM
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How does that stop reporters from getting beaten up?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:53 AM
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187: I'm in California, and I know I can physically drop off a mail-in ballot on election day. What I can't do easily is change an already filled-in ballot (at least without going in to tell them that I spoiled my ballot, which probably involves voting by provisional ballot, if I'm on the vote-by-mail list, which then won't get counted in the election day totals). By waiting until I get to the polls to request and fill in my actual ballot, this isn't a problem.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:58 AM
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186: I know, that's what I do myself. But people still like, IMX, to do it once and once alone, not having to copy anything out.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 1:00 PM
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Or wait until election day morning to fill it out?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 1:26 PM
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Or wait until election day at 11:59 PM, for the thrill!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 1:41 PM
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192: It's not like tax day - the post office isn't open late. (right?)


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 2:26 PM
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Is the post office still open late for tax day?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 2:28 PM
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No this late, Moby, sorry.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 3:53 PM
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Honestly, I have had issues with that this year.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 4:32 PM
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We switched to vote-by-mail for local elections this year, and it boosted turnout dramatically compared to previous local elections. It also ended up costing significantly more than the previous system, for reasons that have not been adequately explained and contrary to some of the arguments made in favor of it beforehand.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 4:38 PM
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I would hate to give up the Oregon vote by mail along with automatic voter registration when you get your drivers license.

Voter intimidation by a spouse is real enough but I don't think the vote by mail has much impact. My 86 year old mother in Ohio voted for Trump because my father always voted for the Republican and my father has been dead for eight years.


Posted by: Out West | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 5:02 PM
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She probably thought he was watching what she was doing from his heavenly perch. I couldn't get away from that racist evangelical hell hole fast enough.


Posted by: Out West | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 5:17 PM
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You should move her to Upper Arlington.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 5:19 PM
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I did my time at OSU before I escaped to the Northwest.

She hates her assisted living facility but won't live with me because I don't believe right. I am pretty relieved about that.


Posted by: Out West | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 5:24 PM
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Maybe 199 last should be in the Big Sort comments


Posted by: Out West | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 5:32 PM
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Could you threaten to put her in an assisted living in Bexley with all the Jewish elderly?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 6:23 PM
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I'm not sure if that's possible given confounding factors

Story of my life.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 6:38 PM
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198 was what I was trying to hint at in 151.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:06 PM
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I tried to think of how we might verify whether this had an effect in any California elections, so (as RH suggested) I looked at close propositions. I focused on propositions where the winning side had less than 60%, the more conservative option won, and it was not what opinion polls predicted. The closest I could find was the Proposition 62/66 pair from 2016 (62 on repealing the death penalty, 66 on speeding it up). A SacBee poll said it was 51/45 for 62 and 48/42 for 66. 62 lost by a hair, 66 won by a hair. But I don't know the margin of error on that poll. An earlier LA Times poll had both with many in the unsure category, although 66 looked certain to lose.

Again, there are many reasons an election could have more conservative results than polling. The samples could be skewed, "shy" voters, whatever.

151/198/205: I'm surprised that y'all (oh, now I understand why NW thought I was Southern) don't think wives with shitty husbands do things their husbands don't like behind their backs. Here in PA, there was a 17% gender disparity between male and female voters in 2016. If we were 100% vote by mail, I can't imagine that would be have held.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 7:45 PM
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That is a preposterous assessment of the lokely impact of vote by mail, and you could easily check it by looking at the gender gap in Washington, where there was a 17 point gender gap in 2016, or California, where there was a 14 point one. But I'm sure those extra three points were due to mean hisbands demanding standing over their wives in vote by mail, or something.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 8:02 PM
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"Likely", and data are from CNN exit polls. The CA number is for white voters, known for reactionary husbands looming over their wives with a frying pan to make them vote for Donald Trump.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 8:04 PM
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Yes, that's a good point, and something I totally should have looked at! (I had digression here about why you didn't mention the substantially different 9% all CA difference, but I figure you did that mostly because of the high support for Clinton by Californian Latino men and not because you were trying to hide it.) Mea culpa. And that mostly does actually make me feel better. Honestly, you should've opened with those numbers! Still: don't be an ass?

I'm surprised that voter turnout hasn't substantially increased (and in primaries, has decreased) with the expansion of vote by mail. I need to find a better source than that first graph, though, as it's too small and doesn't have 2016. Regardless, it's a disappointment, but hopefully the pattern that teo mentioned in Alaska (except for the weird increase in cost) will be more typical, and anyway, others Californians have mentioned its qualitative benefits.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 8:43 PM
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Here's a news story with more information on the higher costs, but as I said before there doesn't really seem to be a clear explanation for why. Here's one on the record turnout. One of our municipal assembly members just stepped down for health reasons, so we'll have a vote-by-mail special election in August that will provide another data point on the turnout and cost.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 8:59 PM
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It's definitely true that VBM hasn't increased turnout much.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:16 PM
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210: I'm trying to find clear numbers, but the issue might be that your old elections were unusually cheap. From probably misinterpreting some sketchy data, ~$3-4/voter seems more normal, and the projected VBM costs (once they get the kinks out and ignoring one-time costs) for next year are in line with that.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:23 PM
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Hm, interesting. One of the issues that led to the city adopting VBM was that their election equipment was getting old and would have to be replaced at some point anyway, so maybe the previous elections were unsustainably cheap because of that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 9:30 PM
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It's optional for us when there are federal officials on the ballot: local and school board votes we do all mail. I vote by mail for every election.

The Republicans fought tooth and nail to prevent our 2017 special from being all mail, because they know it helps Democrats.

In addition to Republicans, we had objections from Native communities. Post offices aren't always as convenient as they ought to be.

We had our county platform meeting last night -- adopting amendments to propose at the state convention in July -- which was surely a fine time for people who like listening to me pontificate on a variety of subjects. I can't believe we had to argue about superdelegates -- I did not say that in the face of an open fascist takeover of our government, re-fighting inconsequential (and yet divisive!) battles from the last war wasn't exactly the best use of folks' energy. I was more polite, and won my motion to strike all mentions of superdelegates anyway.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:27 PM
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How about that vote by mail state Oregon:

Turnout in Oregon increased more between 2012 and 2016 than in any other state. Overall voter turnout in the state reached 68 percent in the 2016 presidential election, up from 64 percent during the 2012 non-AVR election period. Nationally, voter turnout increased by only 1.6 points.Jul 27, 2017

https://www.thenation.com/article/how-oregon-increased-voter-turnout-more-than-any-other-state/


Posted by: Out West | Link to this comment | 06-13-18 11:30 PM
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Now I know two things about Oregon. The first being that the Lewis and Clark expedition got the runs there because they switched their diet from basically all meat to something starchy and potato-like.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 4:47 AM
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||

I was trying to post about Puerto Rico but our internet keeps crashing and we're going to a water park anyway so I'm punting for today. Sorry.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 7:02 AM
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217: Have fun, heebie! I'm sure we'll survive somehow.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 7:07 AM
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Speak for yourself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 7:15 AM
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Having trouble finding something that gives a comprehensive overview of the Miami mayoral absentee thing but from what I can piece together it seems there were ~400 "illegal" votes. not enough to swing, but apparently the margin to force it to a runoff. The extra absentee votes led to a hugely disproportionate absentee vs. election day result which in part is what led to its discovery. The methods seemed to be things like "buying" votes, voting for dead people etc.--things not unique to mail voting, but more easily arranged than it would be for in person voting.

For me not substantive enough to derail vote-by-mail, but illustrates where controls need to be focused. The counting delay should not be a factor; the crazed need for instant results is annoying, and at times downright harmful (it was exploited during the 2000 recount for instance).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 7:17 AM
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That seems about right.

The voter fraud thing that I'm most familiar with (good personal anecdotal reasons to think it happened at least in the 90s, no actual evidence that it did) was "walking around money" where democratic campaigns would pay black ministers to deliver people/parishoners to the polls. My understanding is that some would just keep people home without payment, but the more enterprising would bid Republican campaigns for money and stay home of the R's paid more. I've often wondered of something similar goes on with white evangelical churches -- not the cross-bidding, but an expectation of payment in return for delivering votes. If the payment came indirectly from donors and not directly from the campaign it would be effectively untraceable, and I'd actually be mildly surprised if there wasn't a national class of Republican donors who made donations to evangelical megachurches in swing areas around election time. But that is 100% speculation.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 7:55 AM
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They've certainly been lobbying for a way to preach about politics without the IRS asking questions.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 8:05 AM
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Speaking of IRS rules.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 8:11 AM
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The voter fraud thing that I'm most familiar with (good personal anecdotal reasons to think it happened at least in the 90s, no actual evidence that it did) was "walking around money" where democratic campaigns would pay black ministers to deliver people/parishoners to the polls.

This is possibly naively confused of me, but what's the fraud? That is, a campaign could pay people to, e.g., persuade voters to go to the polls, or even to give them rides to the polls. What makes 'walking around money' fraudulent? (I could see an argument although I couldn't make it myself, that it should affect a church's tax exempt status, but that doesn't make it fraudulent.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 8:49 AM
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I thought this was the problem:

but the more enterprising would bid Republican campaigns for money and stay home of the R's paid more.

Also not quite sure how that's fraud as such and not some other sort of electoral crime, and "stay home" needs to be qualified, but it sounds like a protection racket.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 8:54 AM
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You can't use funds, directly or indirectly, in a quid pro quo exchange for a vote, and the promise was "if you pay me x money, I will ensure that y number of people will vote for you. If you don't, or if the Republicans offer more, they won't." Plus it was an off the books expenditure. I agree that it's not far fron other things that wouldn't be illegal and could have similar results.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 8:57 AM
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With "vote fraud"'used colloquially to cover election crime.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 8:59 AM
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RH seems convinced that the secret ballot is no big deal because with or without the secret ballot, it's a crime to buy votes or coerce votes.

But with the secret ballot, law enforcement has no evidence that the quid pro quo or coercion actually happened. And there's also no way for the person trying to buy or coerce someone else's vote to be sure that they corrupted that particular person. Vote by mail clearly changes this situation, right?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:08 AM
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I got it, and it makes sense now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:09 AM
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ASPSHBALOTP, when I was waiting in line to get Bill Clinton to sign his book, I fell into conversation with an older woman who was talking about her long service as a volunteer in local politics. She was telling me that when she was young, they would give her bags and tell her to take them to where ever. She eventually realized the bags contained cash and she was delivering them because she was the only one they trusted not to take a cut.

I don't know whether to believe her or not, but she seemed convincing. We spent like a hour in line hearing repeated announcements about how Clinton would only sign one book per customer and that he wouldn't sign anything else or any books that were not bought that day. She walked up, got him to sign about five things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:21 AM
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228 - I don't think the secret ballot is no big deal. And whether at a polling place or vote by mail, the evidence of voter fraud is the same -- suspicious activity confirmed by witness testimony.

It's true that the hypothetical coercer of a vote can (maybe) get a confirmation from vbm that you couldn't get from a truly secret ballot box. But it's extremely unlikely for that to be a big deal and more importantly there's no evidence of it actually being a big deal, because conducting anything like systematic manipulation of the vote depends on no way on that confirmation. The imagined scenario of someone offering a bribe to vote by mail in a particular way and then confirming the vote does not differ at any material level from someone sending gangs of paid people to the polls and telling them to vote -- the systematic vote manipulation would be the same. Meanwhile there are lots of things about vote by mail that make it harder to coordinate a mass fraud or election manipulation than voting at a polling place, including that you would need tonrun the operation over a longer period of time. Of course some kind of (prosecutable) fraud with vote by mail could happen but there is zero evidence that it is more likely than polling place fraud.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:28 AM
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Of course some kind of (prosecutable) fraud with vote by mail could happen but there is zero evidence that it is more likely than polling place fraud.

Well, there are those places that have vote-by-mail fraud and don't have polling place fraud. That might be evidence that one is more likely than the other.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:34 AM
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And there are instances where the reverse has been true. This is a very convincing argument!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:39 AM
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Also, to reiterate a point people have already made above, but others don't seem to get, there is a difference between an election in which it is perfectly OK to publicly monitor how a person votes and vote by mail. In the 19th Century, when elections were public, your boss could send an observer to the polling place to see if you voted for Donald Trump. In the 21st century, with vote by mail, it is absolutely illegal for your boss to demand that you show him your ballot on which you voted for Donald Trump. It is true that vote by mail makes it easier for you to show him that ballot, before you mail it in, than it would be in a polling place (putting aside cell phones, photos of your ballot, etc.) But for any kind of material manipulation of the vote in the contemporary United States, that aspect of making it easier doesn't much matter -- if the boss has a policy of checking ballots to see if you voted for Donald Trump, and you don't like that and tell on your boss, your boss will go to prison.


Posted by: Robert Haford | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:47 AM
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And there are instances where the reverse has been true

Like?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:52 AM
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FWIW, I understood that those were different, I was claiming that enforcement will be hard enough to be problematic and it's unclear how much of an effect it's had (and I'd love to have more data on it). Not to reopen the argument, just satisfying the imp of the perverse.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:55 AM
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235 - I dunno, every instance of voting problems in California that didn't directly involve vote-by-mail since vbm became popular? What example are you cherry picking? Why would you think that this is persuasive? Try to be less stupid please.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:58 AM
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Really? California has widespread in-person voting fraud? Because I remember a couple of years ago the argument was that it was virtually unheard of. That was why you lot didn't need voter ID laws and so on - it was a non-existent problem. You were more likely to be struck by lightning.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:04 AM
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California is a shithole.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:06 AM
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Soon to be three shitholes.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:07 AM
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Yes, fraud is low both in at-poll voting and vote-by-mail in every state that has both. Your point is? Maybe we can get into a fruitful theoretical debate about the nature of evidence! I'm sure something happened once in Bradford.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:07 AM
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I think we can all agree that Westerners are virtuous to vote by mail and that Easterners and Brits are not. That's the consensus here, right?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:08 AM
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virtuous *enough*


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:08 AM
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The shithole parts of California prove that voting by mail can work even in the humid shitholes surrounding the Atlantic.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:15 AM
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Honestly, I thought the style of internet argumentation "let's come up with hypothetical situations that justify Republican party talking point and debate them evidence-free" died in maybe 2006-2008.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:15 AM
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Maybe that was wishful thinking.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:16 AM
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Voter coercion is in the literature on voting system design, not some random shit we made up. That's why I was concerned! I'm going to bow out of this thread, as I should have before, since I'm taking Halford's dickishness too personally.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:30 AM
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Voter coercion is a real thing. Asserting that problems in a voting system are likely to be there when they aren't, when that system is designed to increase access, is not a good thing, and pointing out that it's not a good thing is not dickishness, nor directed at you personally other than at your (IMO, bad) arguments.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:41 AM
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I was kind of being a dick to Ajay, but Latgely because I refuse to care about Bradford.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 10:46 AM
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You can't use funds, directly or indirectly, in a quid pro quo exchange for a vote

Indeed, this came up in our VBM rollout in the context of postage. The city decided not to prepay for return postage for the ballots, because using business reply mail would mean there wasn't a postmark to use to determine if it had been mailed before the deadline and buying stamps to include in the mailout would be prohibitively expensive. Some organizations looked into whether they could buy stamps themselves and give them out free to boost turnout, but it turned out that was considered an illegal quid-pro-quo, even though both the election and the organizations were nonpartisan. (This is under Alaska law, which has very stringent rules about campaign finance, and may not be the case elsewhere.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 11:39 AM
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If there isn't a marijuana legalization group called "Baked Alaska", your state sucks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 11:44 AM
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We legalized marijuana years ago. There might be a pot shop with that name somewhere, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 11:48 AM
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Not a retail pot shop, but a product manufacturer in Fairbanks.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 11:52 AM
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I'll allow that. Full credit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 11:53 AM
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Also taken by a Nazi shithead.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 11:58 AM
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Chuck Tingle title?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 12:07 PM
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255 was me and not Chuck Tingle.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 12:08 PM
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New computer, let's see if it will keep the user name.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 12:09 PM
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Reading the Oregonian VBM procedures (part of the election procedures manual) is pretty great. All the names of voters are from The Simpsons, and of course live in Springfield, OR.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 1:12 PM
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||
Hey, is Robot President lurking around? I have a TIME-SENSITIVE self-driving car question. Email linked. (In an emergency, I would of course dial 911.)
|>


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 1:22 PM
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As an Oregonian, I don't recall hearing about any problems at all with our voting system. Your ballot has to arrive by the deadline so the state sends out warnings several days before the deadline telling everyone that to make sure your vote is counted you have to drop it off instead of mailing it in. I always just use the drop box.

Another feature I have not seen mentioned is the ballot paper trail. No hackable voting machines here.


Posted by: Out West | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 3:09 PM
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|| Guys, am I wrong or are the Republicans about to use the kids being held in old WalMart-based interment camps as hostages to get an immigration bill passed? They agree to pass some restrictions on separating parents from their kids in exchange for the Democrats capitulation on a range of immigration-related issues. The foremost of which is building the wall.

Evil bastards. |>


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 6:53 PM
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Hadn't been scared about that yet, but it sure does seem plausible.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 7:12 PM
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Your welcome.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 7:34 PM
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260: email sent.


Posted by: Robot President | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 7:50 PM
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I think that if the Republicans could get a majority of their members to support a policy that was in any way a compromise, they'd have had it a year ago. They can't pass a law, even in the House, because a substantial part of them want to stop all immigration and kick out large numbers of people who are here legally.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 8:07 PM
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The difference this time is they can force a lot more Democrats on board with a more hardline immigration plan because they have the border kids to use as hostages. That wasn't really in play before.

They also know that getting something like immigration passed would go a long way toward stemming their losses in November.

You aren't wrong that it would be entirely possible for the effort to once again dissolve in a cloud of intra-GOP acrimony. But I hope that the Dems have given some consideration to what happens if it doesn't.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 8:34 PM
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They're not doing this to force some kind of grand bargain on immigration and the wall. They're doing it because it is cruel.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 8:50 PM
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Yes. They can't pass a law but they can be cruel and get some of what they would have gotten by passing a law.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 8:57 PM
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||
So, Halford, I have a proposition for you. I just watched the premier of the Paramount TV show Yellowstone, which will air next week. Major plot points turned on completely erroneous descriptions of Montana water law, and some inexplicable but way beyond suspension of disbelief level water engineering. Get Megan and I consulting gigs on the show, and we'll pay (I will, anyway) the usual agency fee for such a thing. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:24 PM
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They're not doing this to force some kind of grand bargain on immigration and the wall. They're doing it because it is cruel.

No, of course not. But as a side-effect of being cruel, I am concerned they are falling ass-backwards into a decent strategy.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-14-18 9:46 PM
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270: I recall some of my dad's biggest cases involved water. It's kind of a big deal for agriculture. I should try to steer my son that way, as law school is looking as likely as it can look from what a pre-teen does.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 6:44 AM
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270 - hate to say it but most studio creative teams aren't willing to pay for water law consultants, except for the sexiest water law movies.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 7:25 AM
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I really would like to be a water lawyer, but will probably never do a case. My dad had a water case that he worked on in his first day in the office as a new associate and was still going on when he retired 45 years later, basically the equivalent of a solid gold magical unicorn for a lawyer who bills by the hour.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 7:31 AM
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The Shape of Water Law.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 8:01 AM
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274: They're waiting for the meanders to migrate or what?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 8:11 AM
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274 Come to the water law cle in Helena this fall!

I have a water case right now that was already more than a decade in when it was at the Montana Supreme Court in 1984. Long spells of inaction, of course. I just realized that it was 30 years ago last week that I quit being a water bureaucrat to go to law school. At the annual water law cle I run into people who are still litigating over my assessments back then.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 8:12 AM
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They're waiting for Charlie to die?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 8:19 AM
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278: No-- till the water runs dry.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 8:28 AM
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I can only assume that climate change will make water law a growth field over the next several decades.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 8:30 AM
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I think the gang at Unfogged should all chip in to fund a sexy water law movie, and sell it to Netflix.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 9:17 AM
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Which reminds me that I'm being constantly reminded that there is a new season of Voltron starting tonight.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 9:19 AM
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The bad guy developer character who spouts the most ridiculous Montana water law stuff in Yellowstone is played by an actor that it the son of the actor who played the bad guy developer character in the sexiaet (ugh!!) California water law movie made to date.

In the first episode of Yellowstone, the character seemingly having the most sex doesn't get involved in any of the water rights stuff. Maybe in later episodes? Actually, that seems likely.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 9:51 AM
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sexiest


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 9:52 AM
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Yes, later episodes. Having sex after the first water-law debate is kind of slutty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 9:54 AM
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Because water law cases last so long, lawyers with that type of portfolio will be reluctant to enter into a relationship that might create a conflict of interest causing them to have to drop a client. On the other hand, lawyers who have cases that last less time, such as criminal defense work, can sleep around a bunch like you see on the lawyer TV shows.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 10:01 AM
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It's just science.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 10:02 AM
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In the water law justice system, the litigants are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The lawyers, who litigate water law, and the opposing counsel who do the same. Hopefully for decades.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 10:05 AM
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285 -- Mobes, watch the first episode and tell me if you think "kind of slutty" is an objection that could have remotely occured to the writers of this show, especially with regard to the character played by Kelly Reilly.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 10:08 AM
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I learn by pure reason, on a plane that doesn't even own an television.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 10:10 AM
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Manafort is going to jail, from which I can infer that Saturday Night Massacre 2.0 is about to happen and, if he sweats enough to have a drop of liquid fall from his brow, the Pacific Ocean.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 10:15 AM
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I think the gang at Unfogged should all chip in to fund a sexy water law movie, and sell it to Netflix.

2020: To fill the initial investment gap, this becomes a joint effort between Unfogged and the wetlook community.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 10:32 AM
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291: Alternate theory -- Manafort will die under mysterious circumstances in prison. Trump will tweet about evil Mueller probe that destroyed an innocent good man.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 10:45 AM
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Most prisons have some polonium around. These things happen.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 10:48 AM
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I liked Ridicule for the sexiness and the water law, but hardly anyone else did. I propose plagiarism to speed 281 &ff.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 3:13 PM
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clew!


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-15-18 3:15 PM
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They also know that getting something like immigration passed would go a long way toward stemming their losses in November.

I dunno about that. Yes, a lot of Republicans aren't hard-line on immigration (especially DACA, which is popular across the whole electorate), but no, there are also a lot of Republicans who are totally against furriners in any form. You have to read M/i/c/k/e/y K/a/u/s to get all the details, him being an obsessive and all, but there are many shades of immigration opinion in the Republican electorate and in their elected representatives. If a "squishy" immigration bill (no wall-first, no e-Verify, no rollback of H1B visas, no restrictions on chain migration) gets passed, the hardliners will stay home in November. On the other hand GOP business donors will give them more money if they pass a bill like that. My guess is the reps will jump toward the money.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 5:55 AM
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I get the logic of 297, but with Miller in the White House, nothing can get signed. No R wants to stick his neck out for a bill that doesn't get enacted, because there's just no upside. There's enough money to be had from people (a) happy about tax cuts and/or (b) scared of impeachment.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 6:52 AM
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I agree with 298. I think fear of business donors has kept them from changing immigration law in the Bannon direction, but that's all it can do. They can't legislate within their own party, so they're abusing kids to scare away immigrants. It's like a Scooby Doo villain if Scooby Doo got a gritty reboot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 7:23 AM
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297, 298 I agree, and the base won't give a shit that no immigration bill, even a highly restrictive one, is passed because they're getting the cruelty they crave. Fuckers, every last one of them.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 7:30 AM
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I think the dynamic changes for congressional Republicans after the primary, when they need to make a quick break from being seen as completely loyal to Trump and instead want to make the case for "look how much we are helping to moderate him."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 7:57 AM
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301 And the media will totally buy in to that narrative. We're so fucked.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 8:14 AM
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301, 302 The media will presume this, and talk endlessly about every imagined pivot, but the candidates are going to be worried about turnout. They will make sure they aren't seen to be actually stepping away from Trump, not even a little bit.

How do do this? Tell the NYT they're distancing themselves, and then scream 'fake news' when the NYT reports it. It'll work, because the NYT will think there was a wink and a nod in there . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 11:08 AM
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There are any number of ways the blue wave could fall short in November, and if that happens we are indeed well and truly fucked.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 1:47 PM
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To be fair, the blue wave could happen and still leave us fucked.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 4:25 PM
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It's kind of surprising that Miller's still in the White House. I hadn't heard his name in a while until recently and had sort of assumed he'd been fired at some point. Is he the only non-family member left from day 1?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 4:40 PM
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306 It's not possible to embarrass Trump by being too hard line on immigration.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 6:28 PM
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A re-elected Republican majority in the House repeals Obamacare. A re-elected Trump suspends the Constitution.

I wish that was hyperbole.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-16-18 6:30 PM
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303.last: because the NYT will think there was a wink and a nod in there . . .

Savviness will be the death of us all.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-17-18 5:40 AM
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