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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

You're welcome!

I've completed my first workday as Majority Inspector on my precinct's election board.

For the most part, things went well. There were fewer problems than I seem to remember from my time as Machine Inspector in 2012. Of course this may be because it was an off-year election this time. And it may also be that I was less stressed simply on account of knowing from the previous experience that what snafus might arise could be managed.

Some time in the PM, a fellow poll worker got news that turnout was exceptionally light. This came as a momentary surprise, since he'd been commenting previously on a surprisingly good turnout in our division. But after a moment's reflection I understood.

You see, yesterday I distributed to nearly every house in my division (I couldn't access apartments except those in my own building) a letter I'd composed reminding people about today's election. I also included information about the location of the polling place and how to find the entrance, plus the fact that there were a Special Election and ballot questions on which all registered voters could vote regardless of party affiliation, and the Green Party's positions on two of the questions.

In the course of the day, a couple voters thanked me for this -- the first of them volunteering, even before knowing who I was, that "if it hadn't been for that letter from the Greens" he wouldn't have known where to vote.

As there's no other apparent reason why my division had an unusually high turnout at the same time turnout elsewhere was exceptionally low, it's reasonable to infer that the letter I delivered to my neighbors is what made the difference.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Why Reporting On Scientific Research May Warp Findings : NPR

Richard Feynman defined science as a set of procedures we've developed to avoid fooling ourselves. It's welcome, if long overdue, that scientists are starting to apply this kind of critical spirit to the functioning of their own institutions.