How not to inspire volunteers

Usually, when you offer an idea and it gets shot down, you don't like it. But at yesterday's meeting of the Election Integrity Action Team, I offered a suggestion and Jake's destruction of it was so trenchant and good I have to share it.

We were talking about a revised objective for our group. Maybe we've been aiming too high, I said, by promoting risk-limiting audits during the county canvass. Maybe we need to pursue nothing more ambitious than getting municipal and county canvasses to perform basic reasonability tests, to stop certifying election results that flat-out don't make sense on their face.

NoClowns-yellowbackgroung.jpgI reviewed the evidence: The recount revealed that county canvasses had certified nonsensical election results all around the state. For the certified results from the City of Marinette to be true, 304 early voters would have had to have decided not to mark any votes on their ballots. Eau Claire County officials had certified 306 votes from a ward with 263 voters. If the results Oneida County officials certified from Hazelhurst were true, more than 52% of the voters there had cast blank ballots. Milwaukee County officials certified a 40% blank ballot rate in one urban ward. If you believe the election results certified by Dane County officials, the lily-white upscale suburb of Waunakee was the state's biggest hotbed of support for Cherunda Fox, a black woman from Detroit who ran for president on a platform of reparations for slavery and imprisoning the "Clinton crime family."

Our election officials are nowhere near ready, I argued, to understand the auditing recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. They need first to understand their middle school math teacher's advice to check their work for obvious errors before handing it in. 

I thought I made a pretty good argument for switching our objective from risk-limiting auditing to basic reasonability testing, but Jake wasn't having it. He's a professional organizer. He works with people while I work with data and ideas. He shot my idea down with one well-placed bullet.

"We are going to have to arouse citizens in 72 counties to action," Jake pointed out. "I don't think we're going to have much luck with the battle cry: "We are going to ask our county clerks to be a little less negligent!"

Okay. Point taken. We need to strive for something more than a little less negligence.

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