Four more days

Hey, did you notice there is an election in the US coming up next week? Seems like a good time to clear the queue of some election-related links!
Worried about what might go wrong with eVoting? A Rice professor has been exposing the vulnerabilities in the system Texas uses, showing that brief unsupervised access to the machine can compromise the integrity of the software.
In fact, while I haven’t seen any authoritative explanation for how this has happened or how widespread it is, evidence does seem to be coming in that straight party ticket voting may result in inaccurate vote counts including not having a vote registered for a presidential candidate. The article also points out that straight-party voting can be result in undervoting if there is a race in your precinct that does not have a candidate running in your party of choice.
There are also technical concerns about voter registration databases. Generally these databases require a match with a federal database to certify voters as eligible – but if there is not a match how often is it a result of an error? In some places, these checks may not occur enough in advance of the election for people who are deemed ineligible to contest that ruling.
There is an entire weblog dedicated to a linguistic analysis of the presidential campaign. The most recent analysis looks at the degree of “language style matching” between presidential candidates and their interviewers. Interestingly, the degree of matching does not necessarily reflect ideological agreement, but is theorized to reflect engagement in the conversation as compared to being cool-headed and objective. Other articles interpret variations in speech length and word choice in candidate speeches.
On the language front, Google Labs has a fun tool In Quotes that takes a word or phrase of your choosing and returns matches from speeches by major national political candidates, showing the results for two candidates side-by-side. It’s an interesting way to get primary source content about candidate’s opinions.
If you really are still undecided on who to vote for, or if you are looking for a last-minute sanity check that you are making the right choice, check out this article on how to pick a president. It’s a nice mix of theory and actual things to do to focus your research into the candidates if you feel overwhelmed by the amount there is to consider.
If it’s the local politics that you have trouble following, Ballotpedia is a community wiki that helps you research what’s on the ballot in your state and find both the text of the questions and commentary and options on the issue.
Finally, keep your eyes open for the every-four-years (is there a word for that? there should be….) Election Day Photo Essay! Previous editions linked here.

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