Election day has finally arrived.  For those of us in the battleground states, it will signal the end of political ads and the returns of ads for Ruffles, Charmin, and Tide.  Hooray for Charmin!

The mainstream media likes to talk about the national polls, but as I have said in the past, these polls are completely worthless.  There’s no prize for the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Most of the polls have had President Obama maintaining a lead in the electoral college (based on his performance in various state polls) for several months now.  While it’s true that Obama’s leads are within the margin of error in many states, he will most likely win most of those states.  As long as the polling errors are not matter of systemic bias (unintentional or intentional) and are simply independent errors, these polls should be erring on the side of Obama roughly half the time and on the side of Romney half the time.  The fact that the margin is within the poll’s margin of error does not necessarily mean that the trailing candidate is the one getting the short end of the stick – the poll could also be understating the lead of a candidate.

There has been much talk about Ohio.  Without it, Romney has a nearly impossible task in front of him.  I see Obama winning Ohio, due in part to election day weather.  There is very little chance of rain on Tuesday in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and this helps Obama.  Every inch of rain on election days boosts Republicans by 2.5%?  Why?  This is simply a bus vs. car issue.  Taking a bus somewhere in the rain is a worse experience that driving a car, because of how wet you get walking to and from bus stops.  Two demographics that use public transit more than others are the poor and inner city dwellers (poor and non-poor alike).  Both of these groups skew to the left.

Election Fraud

There has been much talk about voter fraud and the possibility of requiring IDs to vote.  I really think people are missing the forest for the trees.  Studies have shown that in-person voter fraud is very rare.  Absentee fraud is far more common.

The real danger, though, is people who are being disenfranchised.  There are shenanigans every year.  Among the tricks this year and notifying voters of alternative voting methods (phone and email) that are not actually legitimate, throwing away voter registration forms for a particular party, and sending in a fraudulent absentee ballot for a vote, so that when the voter appears at the poll in person, they will not be allowed to vote.

At this point, I would suggest that you never trust anyone to help with your registration – handle it yourself.  Even taking the precaution of waiting for the registration card in the mail isn’t good enough, as it would be very easy for the perpetrators to send out counterfeit cards (which, of course, would be worthless when trying to prove you are registered).

Some international observers recently have been critical about the US election process.  With some of the tricks that get pulled by partisans, and the outright lies in many campaign commercials, I do think our election process falls well short of the standards we should strive for.  Today’s voters may have more information than at any time in the past, but in many cases, they aren’t more informed – they are misinformed.  Take a few minutes to find the context for quotes and “facts” and you’ll be a more educated voter.  We should strive for a future when voters are correctly informed and when every eligible voter is allowed to cast a vote – even when their party differs from yours.