There are many voting systems used in throughout the world for various reasons.

Various mathmatical criteria have been devised for fair elections.

For years I’ve heard people arguing that we should have internet voting. There as been much research in the area, but one thing I’ve never seen mentioned in any of these is faith in the electoral process.

One criteria that needs to be met is that the majority of people need to have faith that the electoral system represents the will of the people. Can it be hacked? Can a political party interfere with the counting?

I would say one criteria for any voting system is that an average person (and even somewhat below average) can understand how the entire process works and that if that person wanted to they could monitor the election process to ensure its integrity.

A voter makes a mark on a piece of paper, the paper is put in a box, a group of people count the votes in the box, another group of people monitors the counting. Vote totals are reported up the chain to the state level. The state shows the counts for each precinct. The typical voter can understand how this works and could even monitor the process. Understandably not everyone can monitor every part of the process, but a random selection of the populace could be chosen and would be able to understand and follow the process to ensure its integrity.

Contrast this with internet voting. Cryptography is somehow involved. Secure computers are used. Source code is audited. Computers are locked down. However, only those with advanced math degrees really understand cryptography. Only security experts understand how the bits flow over the internet. The whole process relies on experts. The average people will always need to trust that an ‘expert’ somewhere is doing their job correctly, never mind concerns about bribery, foreign interference or other malfeasance.

Vote by mail has other issues which I may address in a future blog post.

bookmark_borderDeepwater Horizon vs. Seattle Sewage Plant

Ten years ago Deepwater Horizon spilled an estimated 210 million gallons of crude oil was dumped into the Gulf of Mexico.

In 2017 the Seattle Sewage treatment plant near Discovery Park dumped between 150 million and 200 million gallons of raw sewage and stormwater into the Puget Sound.

Again in 2019 4.5 million gallons of raw sewage was dumped into Puget Sound.

There have been other smaller raw sewage spills in the Puget Sound area as well.

The Gulf of Mexico has an area 617,000 square miles and an average depth of 5000 feet. The Puget Sound has an area of about 1000 square miles and an average depth of 450 feet.

So the volume of the Gulf of Mexico is 1000 times that of the Puget Sound. Oil is probably a worse contaminant than raw sewage, but it was spread out over a much greater volume.

Why didn’t environmental groups protest the sewage spills? Why didn’t the media provide round the clock coverage? Why aren’t there multi billion dollar cleanup funds for the raw sewage?

Maybe to protect the environment, rather than banning plastic straws and grocery bags, the City of Seattle ought to require all bottled water sold in the city be collected from the outflow of the Seattle Wastewater Treatment Plant.

bookmark_borderThe Virus

What to believe? According to some we’re all going to die. Others say it’s just a flu. There’s plenty of fodder to support any position imaginable.

What is the truth?

Ultimately whatever the government may try and order, people will do what they think is best if they can get away with it.

bookmark_borderTaco Tuesday

If it weren’t for Taco Tuesday I wouldn’t know what day it is.

The last day I was physically at work was March 5th.

Other than we are able to work from home this isn’t unlike some winters in Alaska when we were stuck at home for days or weeks due to icy roads.

There was one year the volcano blew up and we got three days off of school.

bookmark_borderChanging the World

Every year several families in the area get together for a weekend campout at one of the nearby campgrounds. We usually take up almost an entire loop and the kids have a great time visiting with friends until all hours.

I like to ask high schoolers what plans they have for when they get out of high school. One particular girl said she wanted to ‘Change the World’. As she said this a garbage truck was going through the campground emptying the dumpsters. I pointed out to this girl that the garbage man is changing the world. Naturally she wasn’t too impressed with this response, but it reminded me that we all change the world.

In the movie Jurassic Park, Malcolm educates Ellie on the Butterfly effect wherein a “A butterfly can flap its wings in Peking and in Central Park you get rain instead of sunshine.”

A similar idea applies to changing the world. We all change the world by every action we take. Without the garbage man the dumpsters would overflow and the campground would be a stinking mess. No one would want to visit. We may get angry and think to ourselves, if this other person doesn’t care, why should we? Eventually everything is a mess.

Changing the world can come in many forms, there are those who are well known and those who quietly go about there job doing the best they can day in and day out. There are far more of the latter type of person than the former. We should appreciate them more. We should also remind ourselves that when we do a good job, no matter the task, we are changing the world to be a better place.

bookmark_borderDisorderly Conduct

In Wisconsin a teenage girl was threatened with arrest for disorderly conduct if she didn’t remove an Instagram post about her COVID-19 status.

The family with the assistance of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is aiding the family in a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department for violating First and 14th Amendment rights. The Sheriff responded:

Sam Hall, an attorney for the sheriff, said the teenager “caused distress and panic” among other parents by claiming she had contracted the coronavirus despite getting a negative test result.

“This case is nothing more than a 2020 version of screaming fire in a crowded theater,” he said, referring to speech that is not protected by the First Amendment.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Doesn’t the media regularly cause “distress and panic”? (e.g. Corona virus is going to kill us all, climate change is going to kill us all) Why isn’t the sheriff threatening the media with arrest for disorderly conduct?

bookmark_borderIllusions of Inadequacy

While watching YouTube it’s easy to get caught up in all the things everyone else does and begin to feel pathetic about your own existence. You need to remind yourself that you’re amalgamating the lives of many people into one fictional super person who does all kinds of interesting things. The reality is that you are watching many people who each individually probably aren’t all that exiting.

This person can amazing at the piano, that person is visiting desert islands while sailing across the Pacific, this other person is building amazing machines with their 3d printer. They are all different people. If you look at the pianist, they spend thousands of hours to get there, it’d be pretty boring to watch them practice. The sailor spends days staring at vacant ocean, which would be boring to watch, the person building amazing machines spends many hours designing the machine (unless they’re lazy and download it).

Each of them lives a pretty boring life while they’re putting in the prep work for the highlight reel that you get to watch on YouTube. Then you take the highlight reels of many people and mush together in your brain and feel inadequate.

You are not inadequate though. If you are using your talents and abilities as best you can in the circumstances that you find yourself then you are making the world a better place.