e-Talk Radio: Pressman, Roger, 14 November 2000


Those two things, I think, have presented the problems that we have here. Not so much the demographics within the county.

Carol: Right. USA Today had a feature article, where they showed that certain areas of the country have optical scanning, very modern systems. And I find it interesting that Alaska has entirely optical scanners.

Roger: Well, I think it's fairly easy to explain why that's happened. Number one, Alaska was one of the last states to join the Union. Given that, they're young. Given that, their voting system and their voting process represents the more modern era. If you look at states in New England or Florida or the South in general, we're much older. Our voting process and the machinery which allows us to effect the vote is much older. And a lot of us are using voting systems that have been around for 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 years. The problem is that the demand for instantaneous data today, the problem is the demand for easier data collection far overcomes the ability of the voting systems to respond. In addition, I again want to emphasize this, none of this would be relevant in any way if it wasn't for the closeness of this election. The errors that we're exhibiting in South Florida, I'm sure are exhibited in every other state in the union that has older systems. The difference is, in South Florida, the difference between the two candidates is 5/1000 of 1%.

Carol: It's like a meteor hitting, or something that you could never predict to actually happen to be this close.

Roger: Yeah, it's pretty amazing. Statistically, we've seen some incredible aberrations. A professor at Carnegie Mellon and another professor at Stanford did an analysis of the Pat Buchanan vote, which is a real argument for the ergonomic problems associated with our ballot in Palm Beach County. And the professor I believe from Stanford came up with a statistical analysis that indicated that the likelihood of Pat Buchanan drawing 3,400 votes in Palm Beach County, when compared to the population and the voting patterns in every other Florida county, was about 1 trillion to one.

Carol: Wow.

Roger: And the implication of that is, and this is an independent observer, the implication of that is that there were errors made, and then we have to then say, were the errors due to stupidity? And I discount that. I honestly do. Or were the errors due to a very poor design? And I think that that's exactly what happened. This is not a political discussion, so I'm not going to even begin to suggest the potential remedy or whether there even should be a remedy. That's not my area. But there's no question that there was a very poorly designed ballot. And that reflected in people who voted for one person when they meant to vote for another. Clearly, there is no question about that. In this case, the statistics are pretty clear.

Carol: And none of the other demographics, none of the other statistics in Palm Beach County stand out. You don't have a higher occurrence of people running…you know, driving into restaurants. Or any of the other things that you would associate if this were actually an aberration in the demographics.

Roger: No, no. I honestly don't think that's the problem. I think the seniors have been probably unfairly maligned by the media. I saw a piece on MSNBC the other night which really was kind of aggravating. The entire piece was on Palm Beach County, and it was set in a retirement community,

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