Digging Mountains Out of Molehills

The hive mind ain't down with the Texas Lege.

The Internet's fickle opinion-makers have found a new outrage du jour, but this time, the hive mind looks a little behind the times. Over at Digg, they've picked up on a report from CBS affiliate KEYE which aired during last Lege session on how members vote for each other when they're away from their desks. While there is a certain ironic pleasure in watching psychotic voter ID proponents like Rep. Debbie "Pit of Hell" Riddle cast votes under other people's names, the histrionics on the part of dozens of Diggers is a little ridiculous. We'll let news editor Michael King kick the science: the following is his correspondence to an overeager emailer alerting us to the news:

How many people google cute kitty pix? And I'm also aware that Digg is subject to the same kind of "multiple voting" -- but since it's anonymous and on the Web, I guess that's OK.

Look, I'm not gonna argue with you, if you think it's a big deal. But I don't. This is a TV-news manufactured "scandal."


(KEYE's) Nanci Wilson, who spends almost no time at the Capitol, ran with that big "expose" in the spring -- although everybody who watches the Capitol with any consistency over many years knows that it is common practice for deskmates to vote for deskmates when they have to be off the floor, since many hearings or other things are happening simultaneously -- and they vote as the deskmate asks, Dem or GOP. It's called collegiality, or simply friendship. That it's getting Web play now is certainly a bit odd, several months after the fact, but it also means that none of the context is present so people don't know why it's being done. (I guess we're getting into primary season.) By the way, this only happens on votes that are not in doubt -- the minute that there is a close vote, not only do they insist on everybody being there, with a record quorum call as necessary, they make certain everybody is voting for him or herself. Wilson uses those poor visitors, seeing their first session, as shills who are surprised at what they see -- but she has no right to be surprised, because she (or her editors) know better.

Every session, I get letters outraged about this or that floor action that is as ordinary as a quorum, because the writer just happens to be paying attention to something they're interested in -- reptile hunting or gas taxes or whatever. That's fine, but it doesn't mean it's a scandal. It's like somebody showing up at a NASCAR race for the first time and saying, "They're burning up gas and breaking the speed limit!"

It is certainly hypocritical for lawmakers like Riddle to beat up on ordinary (read Latino) voters when in the course of ordinary Lege business they do what they need to do to record votes. And I hope Riddle gets called to account for it -- when it matters, next spring or fall -- so her opponents should make sure everybody in her district sees that video. But it's still a misleading piece of news.

I'll forward this correspondence to our regular bloggers, if they want to note that suddenly an old story is alive on the Web again.


And in case you're still scratching your head:

Also, here's the original Digg page, at 7,000 votes and climbing: it's such a success that a dupe posting is near 1,750, at the top of the Digg recommendations – despite linking to the same video on a porno-link farm. Way to go guys – that moral outrage of yours is making some scuzzbucket serious AdWords cash!

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Legislature, Politics, Elections, Electronic Voting, Debbie Riddle, Digg, KEYE, Nancy Wilson

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