Comments about ‘Letter: New process needed for elections’

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Published: Tuesday, Nov. 13 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

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Salt Lake City, UT

Eric, you would understand how an election can be predicted before all the votes are counted if you took a basic course in statistics.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

They use exit polls to determine when to announce a winner. If the exit polls fall within the margin of error they hold off until many more of the votes are counted. Exit polls are generally accurate to a margin of about 1/2 of 1%. Waiting for actual votes can send a false impression. For instance if Salt Lake City is the first to report in Utah, it may appear that we are headed for a Democratic landslide, which obviously ain't gonna happen.

one old man
Ogden, UT

Prior to this election, conservatives who favored Mitt opposed any changes to the Electoral College. Now listen to their change of tune.

Burke, VA

Eric - In this election the president won approximately 2.7 million more votes in the popular vote than did Governor Romney. But in the electoral college he won 332 votes compared with 206 for Mr. Romney. Although it isn't necessarily easy to find, information on the voting tabulation for each precinct in America is available for review. I think since the 1980 election, the networks have been much more cautious about calling the election early for president or for Congress but they still have the competitive need to be the first to predict the winner. They do this by looking at what precincts have already voted and what the voting totals already counted show. They do this using historic voting data for each precinct. I will admit that I was surprised at how soon they networks called the election in Wisconsin for President Obama given that most of the night showed Mr. Romney in the lead. But the professionals at the network new what they were doing. In the end, there were 9 toss-up states and the president won 8 of those nine. That's how he won the election.

Salt Lake City, Utah

@ Eric: If voting districts each contained the same number of people, then we would (probably) need to wait until the majority of the votes from all districts were counted before calling a state. However, the winner of a state is not determined by the number of districts won, but by the number of votes given to a candidate by individual voters.

We know how many registered voters there are in each district. Once the districts with a greater number of registered voters are counted, we know if there are enough voters out there in less populated districts to effect who gets the most votes overall.

If there are 10 million voters, and 7 million votes have been counted, and 5 million and 6 of those votes are for one candidate, even if every one of the remaining 3 million votes were for the other candidate, it is not enough for the other candidate to win. That state can be called for the candidate with the 5 million and 6 votes, no waiting necessary.

Christian 24-7
Murray, UT

Old Man:

Who, besides you, said anything about the electoral collage? I thought the article was about counting votes instead of projecting the outcome based on samples.

Eugene, OR

Translation: Romney lost and it's just not fair.

Eagle Mountain, UT

Who decides to whom each State goes? The voters of each State. What you saw on the news where simply "projections". CNN did not re-elect the President, they simply "Projected" that he would win looking at the data they had available, and from they still had to wait on votes (in the case of Ohio, the outstanding votes were very largely democratic precincts, and Obama already had a lead). They took into account the outstanding States and how they were likely to go (e.g. Utah had almost no chance of going Blue, and California had almost as little of a chance as going Red).

If this bothers you, don't watch it. They do this, because people watch it. If enough people didn't watch, they would show something else (supply and demand) After the fiasco in 2000, CNN has been conservative in their predictions, making sure they appear to be correct before going live, while on the other hand, like any other news organization, they want to announce it first.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution tells us how a President is to be elected.

Each State is allowed to have one elector for each member of Congress. It is left to the State to decide who those electors will be and what method is used to elect or appoint the electors. The electors commonly vote for the candidate who received the most votes from the people of their State in the election, but they can vote as they please.

Changing the process would require an amendment to the Constitution.

The letter writer did not ask that we change the process, only that we wait until the votes are counted before declaring how that State's electors will (probably) vote.

I agree. No results should be shown until all the polls are closed and then results should only be shown as votes are counted.

Park City, UT

Mike, Your last paragraph espouses limiting the freedom of speech. Why is it that conservatives are all about limiting freedom?

The writer is complaining about media projections. If you don't like it don't watch.

salt lake city, utah

Eric, you act as though there were really questions in the beginning about how the citizens in Utah would vote, or how the citizens in New York would vote. There wasn't, and that translates to all but about a half dozen or so of states. Within, those states there's also only a very few questions of how specific counties will vote. A little talked about fact. In 2008 the election was decided in ten counties..ten counties. Think about that. That's why states are called either when the polls close or counts in certain counties are known. There are no general surprises or questions, just small but inpactuful ones.

If you want to really understand it read Nate Silvers new book "The signal and the noise". He's still the only one who gets it exactly right every time. He only missed one house race in Wisconsin this time.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah


Would the media have "called" the election before the polls closed if Romney had looked like the next President?

You and I both know that the media tries to "shape" the election. You and I both know that some members of the media would say anything and do anything to get their candidate elected, including trying to discourage voters from voting. You can I know that several years ago, the media called the election in Florida before the polls in the western end of Florida had closed and that MANY voters didn't vote because they thought that their vote would be meaningless.

Freedom of speech must be directly connected to being held completely accountable for that speech. With instant communication being the norm, "giving" the outcome of a race, while voters are still voting can be considered campaigning at the polls. Do you expect the public to turn off their electronic devices until after they've voted?

Using restraint is something that the media has long ago sold for advertising dollars. It's not a question of free speech; it's a question of integrity.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

That's what you get when you watch pundits like Karl Rove calling the election.

Eagle Mountain, UT

@ Mike Richards,

"Would the media have "called" the election before the polls closed if Romney had looked like the next President?"

Absolutely! ...the pressure to be first is just as great, if not greater, than the pressure to be accurate.

In reality, could this have happened? Probably not. President Obama could have won re-election without Ohio (very difficult) but Romney had almost no chance of winning without Ohio.

Don't forget that Fox News wasn't disagreeing at all with CNN, and had made their own projection around the same time as CNN. Fox news certainly was cheering for Romney and would have not hesitated one bit to call the election for him.

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

I think the concern in this letter is that calling an election based on votes on the East Coast could effect voting in states on the West Coast. I agree that this is a concern, but not much of one; there are lots of other races in every state that people are concerned with. And if an early call hurts anyone, it would be Democrats. That is, it might tend to cause people in California to stay home, and California is a strong Democratic state.

American Fork, UT

I'd rather it was simply a 'one man one vote' system, get rid of the college and the idea that the states have anything to do with it.

Sandy, UT

"You and I both know that the media tries to "shape" the election. You and I both know that some members of the media would say anything and do anything to get their candidate elected, including trying to discourage voters from voting." This previous comment is hillarious since it has been the right that is the side that suppresses voting. It's time to put your money where your mouth is and stand up and be adults, showing that you are an American first even though you disagree with your neighbor. Heavens knows some of us have plenty of experience with this living in Utah. U-gotta-B-kidn.

one vote
Salt Lake City, UT

This could be an issue in a close Presidential election like 2000. 2012 was a easy win for a great President overcoming four years of obstruction and birther nonsense.

J Thompson

It all comes down to "fairness". Some people believe that "winning" is the objective. They think that getting that temp job is what it's all about. They are wrong. America is suffering. They are suffering because those who held those "temp jobs" messed up. They wrote laws that suppressed employment. They wrote laws that suppressed using our own natural resources, causing us to spend $1,000,000,000 per day to buy oil from the Middle East, and to pay an additional $2,000,000,000 per day to maintain a military to protect those shipping lanes.

Think about it. We have a president who spent his first term blaming Bush. Now he has nobody to blame but himself. His policies will determine how many of the 23,000,000 Americans who are out of work find employment. His policies will determine how many of us keep our homes.

His policies will not work. We're in for a hard ride. We'll see the results of liberal thinking during the next four years. It may be too late to fix things after Obama's term expires.

Salt Lake City, UT

@ Mike Richards,

"Would the media have "called" the election before the polls closed if Romney had looked like the next President?"

The polls were closed in all states except Alaska (which closes at 1am eastern time) before the race was called. If Romney had been doing well enough to be in that sort of position at the time it absolutely would be called. Remember, news organizations always race to be the first to report things.

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