A solution in search of a problem

Submitted by Scott Feyhl
Posted 4/18/24

Dear editor:

I was reading the paper’s coverage (Powell Trib. April 16, 2024) of Sen. Dan Laursen’s efforts to initiate a hand count of ballots for elections in Park County. I was …

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A solution in search of a problem


Dear editor:

I was reading the paper’s coverage (Powell Trib. April 16, 2024) of Sen. Dan Laursen’s efforts to initiate a hand count of ballots for elections in Park County. I was reminded (again) of Sen. Laursen’s search for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. My objection to all of this comes from several aspects of his commentary on this process.

On the face of it I feel offended by the implication that the effort to ensure election integrity in Park County is being impugned. Of course, one may assert that it’s only the machines that are being questioned. The results of an election in Park County have never been questioned, or even doubted. The team of election officials and judges who conduct local elections here work hard, are proud of their integrity, and believe that the machines are selected because of their infallible accuracy. The issue of machine accuracy has been met with testing in every election cycle and they have been found to be absolutely accurate.

So, what is behind this ill-placed effort to abandon them? Of course, it comes from the sensationalized nationwide effort on the part of our former president and the far-right members of the GOP to push an unfounded assertion that the last presidential election was stolen. The real question is, “How long can the nation be forced to endure this big lie without evidence?”

Laursen asserts that, “We don’t know who programmed them (the tabulators). Are they connected to the internet?” County officials say they aren’t connected, so who exactly doesn’t know? Is Laursen then questioning the officials’ integrity? Here, again, we see the process of attempting to discredit and undermine public confidence in elections, i.e. staff, and election judges and the tabulators they use to conduct fair and impartial county elections. And, without a shred of evidence. Sound familiar? Another (big) lie.

Also at issue is the “informal polling” that Sen. Laursen conducted to support his belief about the voting machines. In general, polling falls into the category of “Survey Research.”

This is difficult and serious stuff, even for the experts. Most polls are not easy to validate even by national polling organizations. They are often wrong and often dismissed. So, what makes a poll valid? The object of polling is to collect knowledge that can support or dismiss an assumption, in this case whether or not voters believe that our machines are accurate.

This makes it possible to generalize an assumption from the polled population to the general population. Therefore, there are certain controls that must be applied to the process to ensure that the generalized results will be valid. The first control is always aimed at representation. Does the poll provide a sample that truly represents the polled population? The pollster must try to ensure that every member of that population has an equal opportunity to be included in the sample. That means that the sample must be random.

Does any of this resemble what Sen. Laursen describes in his poll? Do you think something as serious as election integrity should be affected (or infected) by what Mr. Laursen has produced?

I suggest that readers pay particular attention to the part of the Tribune article titled “CLERK’S VIEWS” if you are interested in truth.

Scott Feyhl


(Editor’s note: The story Feyhl is referring to was written by the Greybull Standard and was republished with permission by the Tribune.)