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Posted on Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 10 a.m.

Election 2010, reflections on the morning after

By Edward Vielmetti

I was up late Tuesday night tracking election results. Here's some reflection on that effort the next morning. I'm writing this down so I won't forget it now; it was a long night.

Local races

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Washtenaw results came in very late. I had called it a night before all the votes were tallied; the final tally from Washtenaw County is time stamped 4:23 a.m. I had visited the county building where the votes were being tabulated from absentees just after 2 a.m., and it was full of people with stacks of ballots on tables.

My own experience in voting with the Automark machine was predictably complicated. I wrote about problems with Automark back in August, noting that if you don't tear off the top strip of the ballot before feeding it into the ballot-marking machine that the ballot will be rejected. This time, not only did the system reject my ballot, but it ate it, and it took an election official a few minutes and a few phone calls to figure out how to pop open the insides of the machine to fish out the crumpled ballot. My do-over worked just fine, and I only got to collect one "I Voted" sticker.

The reported results from Manchester Township are likely to change when the final tally is officially reported, since problems with an incorrect memory card during ballot processing led to some valid votes being undercounted.

The Ann Arbor District Library board election was close enough that one newspaper in the area called the results early and wrong. "Barney Newman, Murphy re-elected, Surovell unseated in Library Board elections," was the report, but it was based only on the first 528 votes counted. In the actual ballot canvass for that election, Edward Surovell placed third of four candidates, edging out challenger Vivienne Armentrout by over 1,400 votes.

Salem Township voters turned out in droves, with an 85 percent turnout in Salem Precinct 1, 74 percent in Salem Precinct 2, and more than 86 percent in Salem Precinct 3. Voters went to the polls there with five recall questions on the ballot, and none of the recall proposals passed.

In contrast, voter turnout in precincts near the University of Michigan campus was quite low. Less than 10 percent of eligible voters turned out in Ann Arbor's Ward 1, Precinct 2, which voted at the Michigan Union. The Michigan Daily's Election Day live blog of student polling places reported multiple accounts of first-time voters being confused on the mechanics of voting, with people going to the wrong polling place a very common failure.

The Foursquare "I Voted" campaign was an exercise in using social media to track election results. Across the state of Michigan, 1,613 voters texted in their polling place to the Foursquare servers, and one of the busiest places in the area for Foursquare check-ins was the Michigan Union with a grand total of six people connecting from that location. I will hesitate to draw the evident conclusion that the more likely voters are to sign in on Foursquare, the lower the actual turnout at their polling place will be.

National races

New York Times political blogger Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight election forecast site were eerily on target. Silver and his election models correctly predicted 332 of the 339 races that had been called by 12:35 a.m, a remarkable result.

The Alaska Senate election will take a long time to sort out. In a three-way race, write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski (a Republican who didn't get the party primary nomination) prompted 41 percent of Alaska voters to write in her name. Senate drama could just be beginning, says the Anchorage Daily News, with lawyers on their way to the state to battle over decisions on how to count the write-ins.

Jerry Brown will be governor of California again. I leave you with the Dead Kennedys, singing their 1979 track California Ãœber Alles. "I am Governor Jerry Brown / My aura smiles / And never frowns".

Edward Vielmetti stays up late on Election Night eating cold pizza for



Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 7:21 p.m.

At least it's organic poison gas.;) Long live Jello Biafra.