Re: Ballot Design Hogwash

Subject: Re: Ballot Design Hogwash
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 11:24:27 -0800

Dan Emory wrote:
> OK, folks, I've sat back and listened to all the theory about the ballot
> design in Palm Beach County Fla. One of the things TWs are supposed
> to do is get the facts before they write knowledgeably about a
> subject. Most of you who have responded with criticism of the
> ballot design do not pass that basic test of competence.

Granted that everything you say is true, how does any of it affect
the design issue? State law and the limits of the tabulating
equipment are constraints, but constraints are no reason for poor
design. Nor does the universality of a design affect its quality. As
for the lack of complaints beforehand, I think that many people on
this list can testify that a usability study in which informants
have no guidelines is unlikely to produce any answers, let alone any
useful answers.

I'm sure that you're right that the issue is being used for
political reasons (and shocked! shocked I am that an election should
be political!), but this politicking isn't a design issue.

>I'd argue that anyone simple-minded enough to think this is the right way to do it is not qualified to

Given that people only vote once every few years,this is a sweeping
assumption, especially given the fact that people might have moved
from an area in which a different form of balloting was used.

I can't help thinking of a song by the Canadian folksinger Eileen

I think we're all too stupid for democracy,
Whoever thought majorities should rule?
I think we're just too stupid for democracy,
Show me a mirror and I'll show you a fool.

She then goes on to list what's wrong with different forms of
government (for example, "Dictatorship is full of nasty people who
will shoot you"), then concludes:

Which leaves us meritocracy
Which always sounded good to me...

Folksingers in the government, and all the laws must rhyme,
Folksingers in the government, oh we'll have such a time!
Jamming about policy and singing party-line...but
Maybe your ideas of merit aren't the same as mine.


Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7189 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

"The king works backwards, day and night,
Says you went left when you should have gone right,
Try to do undo what you've once done wrong,
The king works backwards all day long."
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