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More Election Talk

Jill Rains
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 16, 2001
Posts: 4
I was just reading Jason's post and the turn that forum took...I was wondering what people think of getting rid of the electoral college. It seems very outdated, regardless of your opinion on the last election. What do you think?
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338

won't happen


!_I_Know_Kung_Fu_!
Matthew Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
I've always been against getting rid of the electoral college, but this election convinced me more than anything else. Shortly after the election, the USA Today posted a county-by-county map of who won what. Although Gore won the popular vote, he carried a very small portion of the land mass of the U.S. I think it was in the neighborhood of 15%, but don't hold me to that number. That would leave a very large number of people unrepresented in the executive branch.
I think part of the issue with the whole senario is that our government has been mislabeled a democracy for years. Our founding fathers feared the concept of "mob rule" and avoided a democracy for just that reason. We moved more towards a democracy when the Constitutional amendment( sorry, I can't remember the number ) was passed that allowed citizens to elect senators. Originally the state legislators chose senators. If the electoral college is removed, then the states will no longer have representation in the federal government and the masses will truly rule, a concept I am afraid of as well.
Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips
Greg Harris
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 12, 2001
Posts: 1012
i think Matthew said it all. the electoral college is there for a reason, and the last election just threw that reason in our faces... so, like it or not, the electoral college did the job and ensured that even the smallest county in the mid-west was able to have a collective vote.


what?
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338

Is that its job? I always thought the electoral college was to ensure that the elitists who run the country would have a safety valve if the masses ever got any smart ideas about who should be president.
Landmass? Why the hell does that have anything to do with an election? All 13 people who voted in Wyoming are weighted more per vote than votes from a more populus state. I know both sides of the argument, but this seems like an arbitrary solution at best.
Another thing that doesn't make any damn sense is the electoral votes from a state voting as a block. How is that representative of the will of the people?
One more little thing to consider, the law says the VP and Pres can't both be from the same state. Right before the election, VP Dick changed his state of residence from Texas to Wyoming. Now, if this is a possible, how could that law ever come into play or be enforced?
Laws don't seem to apply to some people.
Democracy is a horrible form of government but as much as I dislike elitism, I fear the decision making of the masses even more.
Stevie Kaligis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 04, 2001
Posts: 400
Maybe this new book will help.....
Greg Harris
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 12, 2001
Posts: 1012
One more little thing to consider, the law says the VP and Pres can't both be from the same state. Right before the election, VP Dick changed his state of residence from Texas to Wyoming. Now, if this is a possible, how could that law ever come into play or be enforced?

wyoming is cheney's home state... i cannot remember the details right now, but if i remember correctly, he changed his residency to texas because he moved there for his job. but, when powell turned down the vp job, and cheney was selected as gw's running mate, he changed his residency back to wyoming, where he belongs.
he only had his address in texas because of work... not so underhanded as it seems when you do not hear the whole story, is it? the media loved that one, and they made damn sure not to tell that he is actually from wyoming.
[This message has been edited by Greg Harris (edited July 11, 2001).]
Andy Ceponis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 20, 2000
Posts: 782
I have to agree with Andrew on this one. The electoral college is set up in a manner that is unfair to begin with. Someone said that gore only got like 15% of the land. But that just means that he got alot of votes in a small area with ALOT of people. Now people in alaska have alot of landmass but not very many voters. So someone who gets alaska will get alot of land but not alot of voters. Doesnt make sense to me. Land isnt what matters. Its people's votes. Who cares if alaska has 99% of the land mass in America but only 2 people live there. Should whoever wins Alaska win the election?
I think it should be popular vote wins(as much as i wouldnt want to see someone like Gore in office, but then again i dont like Bush either, hehe).
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Personally I would like to see a system where when someone cast their vote their votes are securely sent to some central database or something along those lines. After all polls are closed, and all absentee ballots are counted... only then is a winner announced. Technology has made the Electoral College obsolete for the most part.
On the other hand, the Electoral College protects against the sort of voter manipulation that was practiced by the Dems and their cronies (CNN for example) on election day, which very likely lead to Gore's victory in the popular vote.
I think one real key to a fair election is muzzling the media on election day, with regards to projected outcomes at least. That, and dead democrats need to stop casting votes .
By the way as someone mentioned earlier the US is not a Democracy, we are a Republic.
Jason
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
The problem that the electoral college provides a solution to is the problem of having a regionally popular candidate from taking an election. Imagine a candidate that wins a very large percentage of the south but doesn't win anywhere else. In a popular election, that could be enough to win.
This is from a web site on the electoral college:
How can Gore win the popular and lose the electoral vote?
A state's electors is equal to the total number of Senators and Representatives. So each state has 2 more votes than its proportionate population. When the popular vote is so close, the number of STATES won becomes decisive. If early returns are confirmed on recount, Gov. Bush wins 31 states (61%), Vice-President Gore wins 19 and DC. Those 11 extra states in the Bush column convert to 22 additional electoral votes, which will be the winning margin for Gov. Bush. Is it fair? No less fair than the U.S. Senate, which gives every state 2 Senators regardless of its population.
In the 2000 election, the popular vote goes one way, but the state vote goes the other way, in landslide proportions! And it is only due to the state landslide that Gov. Bush has a chance. If Vice-President Gore squeezes out a win in Florida, he will win the Presidency having carried the lowest percentage of states (41%) of any President. Kennedy carried 46% of the states in 1960 and Carter carried 47% in 1976.
As is always the case, the Electoral College punishes the candidate that appeals to a limited region of the country. If you look at the electoral map, you can see that Bush succeeded in winning states in every region (with the help of Mr. Nader). Without Florida, Gore has no states in the South or the Mountain West. Again--no accident. The Electoral College is doing just what it is designed to do.

The big problem with direct elections is that voter fraud in one state (or even one county) can distort the election nationally. Running up the vote in a state that your candidate has already won is pointless under the electoral college. Based on this recent election, this could be a serious problem since voter fraud seemed to prevalent in many Democratic states.
Finally, the whole idea that Bush is not legitimate because he didn't win the popular vote is absurd. Bush and Gore knew the rules going in so they deliberately worked their campaign strategies based on the electoral college. Bush, for example, knew that he could never win NY so he didn't bother campaigning there. Under a popular contest he would have spent time in NY in hopes of increasing his losing percentage. The voters were aware of the rules also. If your candidate was going to lose in your state then their would be little reason to go vote for your candidate.


Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
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Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Jason Menard:
Personally I would like to see a system where when someone cast their vote their votes are securely sent to some central database or something along those lines. After all polls are closed, and all absentee ballots are counted... only then is a winner announced. Technology has made the Electoral College obsolete for the most part.
Technology is not the solution. Just imagine polling places being DOS attacked to keep their votes being counted. Imagine hackers and virus writers attacking polling machines. Imagine polling software being written with pro-democrat or pro-republican code being hidden in it. The last person I would trust to clean up the election mess would be an IT person.
Jill Rains
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 16, 2001
Posts: 4
Thomas, I agree completely that both candidates knew the rules going in and that the election results were fair. However, do you think that the concept is fair or should we consider using popular vote? It doesn't sit well with me that because I live in a populous state my vote counts less than someone 100 miles north of me in Wyoming. Why should that be? The question of regional popularity may have been a bigger issue at one time, but seems moot now. In fact Bush and Gore are a good example of candidates that were extremely regionally popular. Bush killed Gore in smaller communities and Gore killed Bush in more populous areas. It was extremely regional. The electoral college didn't equalize regional popularity, it exacerbated it.
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338
Let's start with Dick Cheney state residency.
I didn't think it was particularly pursued by the media, it was mentioned in passing and then not revisited.
Personally, knowing the whole story doesn't change anything. (which was pretty much included in every report I ever came across) The question is how could this law ever be enforced? Especially if I'm affluent enough to maintain several estates?
I'm not sure why people get so blindly attached to political parties in this country. Some people are fond of talking about members the "other" party as some sort of demonic minions.
In Florida you have an investigation which concludes that African-Americans were disenfranchised and discouraged from voting by uniformed law enforcement. This would be bad enough if brother Jeb wasn't the governor.
I'm sure the were improprieties across the country and across the board. Why do the hard liners from both parties always talk like only the "other" party does anything improper?
The electoral college was originally founded under the auspices of states rights which only indirectly relates to regional differences.
What doesn't make sense is that the states elect to cast the votes as a block. Doesn't seem right in the "representative" sense.
One candidate gets all of California if he wins by 1 vote?
My opinion is, you take the electoral college votes per state as they are. You seperate the votes based on population (the number of Representatives in the house) from the votes for the state. (2 for each state, the number of senators)
Now you have an election, dividing all the population votes in proportion to the voting and then tack on the other 2 for who ever carried the state. Seems like this would be a better balance of state vote vs popular vote. (Of course you still have to work out the details of how to divide votes. For instance if a state only has 2 population votes, when does the candidate with less votes get one. I would propose 35% might be sufficient, the candidate gets only 25% of the states electorate, but some might argue that, certainly needing 49% seems too high. Anyway there should be some sort of mathmatical way to resolve the votes, which will of course be arbitrary, but certainly not more arbitrary that giving the whole state away as a block.)
This system gives incentive for campaigning in states a candidate can not hope to carry but also gives weight to the majority decision in each state.
As usual, I've probably exceeded my 2 cent limit
[This message has been edited by Andrew Shafer (edited July 12, 2001).]
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Since this seems to only cause a problem about once every 100 years, I think we are worrying way too much about it. By the time this becomes an issue again, we will all be dead.
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338

Thomas,
Are you advocating people avoid dealing with issues because they may or may not effect them?
If there is something that could be improved (not that this situation can be) should we leave it for someone else in some other time to deal with?
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Andrew Shafer:

In Florida you have an investigation which concludes that African-Americans were disenfranchised and discouraged from voting by uniformed law enforcement.

Please provide a reference for this, because in all honesty this sounds like a load of BS. Who authored the report that reached this conclusion?
I can see the police shift briefing now:
Sgt: There's been a rash of armed robberies in the 3rd district lately, we want to step-up patrols in the affected areas. We also need to run traffic between Broadway and Pine due to an increase in drug activity in the area. In addition there will be some foreign dignitaries in town starting next week so be aware that we will need volunteers for a security detail. OVertime will be authorized. Oh yeah and one more thing.... Today is election day so be sure to disenfranchise the African-American voters. Wear your vests, watch your backs, and for god sakes... let's be careful out there.
Jason
Greg Harris
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 12, 2001
Posts: 1012
In Florida you have an investigation which concludes that African-Americans were disenfranchised and discouraged from voting by uniformed law enforcement. This would be bad enough if brother Jeb wasn't the governor.

i quit paying attention to this one a long time ago, but from what i remember, it was never proven by an investigation (impartial investigation)... jessie jackson and his cronies certainly "proved" it by getting on television, but the statistics told a different story.
the percentage of "white" voters as opposed to african american voters that were pulled over at the traffic stop in question that day was more white than african american. in fact, as a factor of the proportion of the citizens of each group in that county, the white voters were pulled over in an even larger percentage... just another ploy by one side to tarnish the victory of the other. they told a story without supporting it with facts. i am sure it could have gone either way, no matter who won.
[This message has been edited by Greg Harris (edited July 12, 2001).]
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338

Its a little more complicated than a little road block pulling over blacks and whites.
If you want to ignore all the stuff Jesse Jackson claimed there are still improprieties.
But why stop there . . .
I know I can't really expect most people to pay attention to every detail about what goes on but this came out about a month ago, so as you requested: draft of official report.
This horse has been beat to death, but if anyone in interested in more pain for themselves this site has a chonological index of articles that are online.
http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/florida.html
Greg Harris
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 12, 2001
Posts: 1012
it's not that i want to "ignore" what jessie jackson says... it is just that when someone cries wolf too many times and nothing happens, that person begins to lose credibility.
jessie jackson is an instigator, he loves to get people fired-up by creating stories in the press, or at public rallies. as unfortunate as his current circumstance is, i am glad that he has been out of the spotlight for the last couple months.
i did browse through some of the links (briefly) and some of the stories sound suspect... but a lot of them sound as if they could have been fabricated as well. i guess we will never know what really happened that day. just as we will never know how many more votes bush would have received from the pan-handle in florida which is in a different time-zone from the rest of it... and also majority military. 8k to 10k votes i heard.
oh yea, if you want to debate disenfranchisement, what about gore and company trying to disenfranchise the military overseas balots??? the ones that might not have been postmarked correctly (no fault of the voter) but were in the air or already in florida BEFORE the deadline... that was bold-in-your-face disenfranchisement if i have ever seen it. and totally disgraceful. i certainly do not want a jerk like that being my Commander-in-Chief... do you?
i better quit before i start a flame war.
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338

No please, don't stop
What exactly do you consider suspect?
I didn't bring up Jesse Jackson initially, I could careless what he says. I agree that he is an instigator.
They counted all the military votes, the Dems made it quite clear and public that they didn't want to disenfranchise voters, much less military voters.
Anyone who doesn't think there was something fishy in Florida is wearing rose-colored political party affiliations.
Honestly, I could not care less. The process is over. Bush is the president. The choice between the evil of two lessers.
http://www.billionairesforbushorgore.com/
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338

Greg Harris
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 12, 2001
Posts: 1012
well, this lady's story is one example:
Cathy Jackson, an African American woman, had been a registered voter in Broward County since 1996. Upon registering in Broward County, Ms. Jackson was told that if she ever experienced a problem with her voter registration card, she would be allowed to vote if she could produce a valid driver�s license. Ms. Jackson voted in Broward without any incident using her driver�s license since 1996.

it goes on to say that she tried to vote in broward, but they said she was not on the list... so she should go back to miami-dade where she voted (6 years before, i guess). she went there and they told her to go back to broward. she got back to broward and they said she could not vote because they could not verify her registration.
that does sound like a valid complaint. however, if she had been using her driver's license for 6 years, why didn't she get the problem fixed earlier, instead of waiting for the biggest election day in those 6 years to go through the hassle? i mean, if you want to get something simple fixed through government channels, are you going to wait until the busiest day of the year to do something about it? much less the busiest day in 4 years? i am sure they can make exceptions during local elections, but during a presidential election the pole workers do not have the time to deal with something that could have been fixed before.
maybe i am crazy, but i think that is just plain lazy and selfish. it is not that hard to get the paperwork taken care of and change your district. i know because i did it 2.5 years ago without a problem. i also voted overseas twice (once during the '96 presidential election) with no problems. if there was a problem with my card i would have made sure to get it taken care of a soon as possible, and certainly long before the presidential election.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Andrew Shafer:
If there is something that could be improved (not that this situation can be) should we leave it for someone else in some other time to deal with?
Yes. Since we have no idea what the implications of changing the system might be and the system has been working reasonably well for 225 years, screwing around with it seems a little absurd.
Scott Appleton
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 07, 2001
Posts: 195
One proposal I've seen that at least merits consideration is to divide up the electoral college votes to mirror Congress -- that is, the basic unit for a vote is a US Representative District, with the 2 Senate votes going to whichever candidate carries the state total. This gives each person's vote roughly the same value (assuming districts are apportioned properly) and de-emphasizes the significance of extremely close votes (the candidate winning by 1 vote only gets 1 electoral college vote rather than an entire state's slate of votes).
Significant issue: gerrymandering becomes even more of a problem.
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338

Greg,
I'm not sure what you are trying to get across.
You don't believe the woman's story?
What exactly are you categorizing as suspect?
You think if there was a problem, she should have been able to take care of it long before the election. I agree that this is probably true, and certainly easy for you.
The problem is the patterns. If she was able to vote before (there would have been a presidential election in the past 6 years) then she might not be in a position to understand there is a problem to take care of. Racial inequality in the voting process isn't a new thing that just sprang out of no where in 2000. (go rent Mississippi Burning)
Moreover, for the sake of argument, let's categorize this one lady's story as suspect. She didn't get to vote and its her fault and she is making a big deal out of nothing.
Its only one vote, who cares, there are thousands more in question.
And Thomas,
I'm sure there were visionaries like you around for all the constitutional amendments.
Greg Harris
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 12, 2001
Posts: 1012
in the perfect world one person - one vote would be great. however, there are so many uninformed people that would vote for a candidate just because their friends, parents, spouse, co-workers... are. i know i did not take time to look at every issue on both sides, so i am sure there are many more people who have absolutely no clue what the candidates stand for.
i do not think we will ever find a way to have a perfect election system where everyone knows the issues and everyone's vote counts just as much as the next person's does.
i do agree with the previous post by jason... the media should be silenced on election day so what happened this time does not happen again. i personally do not believe much of what i hear or read in the news... especially when it comes to politics, but a lot of people probably did not vote this time because of different networks wanting to be the first to tell us that one of the candidates had "taken" a certain state.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Andrew Shafer:
And Thomas, I'm sure there were visionaries like you around for all the constitutional amendments.

The fact is that constitutional changes only occur when a super-majority of people decide that the change needs to be made.
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338

Ahh, why bother, its not that bad, our grandchildren can worry about that.
We have freedom, we have choices.
Who could want more freedom than the choice between Coke or Pepsi? Bush or Gore?
This is all so overwhelming already.
Scott Appleton
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 07, 2001
Posts: 195
I've always maintained that I would never vote for anyone whose character was such that they would actually run for President :0
But this time I actually did vote for someone I could stomach, and it wasn't either Coke or Pepsi.
Interesting that a lot of people here have posted that they fear a true democracy, where everyone votes and is truly represented. The feeling seems to be that it is much preferable if only "informed" people vote. The idealistic side of me says this is bogus -- but the realistic side shares the same sentiment. Unfortunately, I'd say we're already in that position, in the sense that the more "charismatic" candidate almost always wins, regardless of positions or sometimes even competency. Reagan and Clinton were both much more charismatic than their opponents, and the same could probably be said of W.
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338

RC Cola for President!!!
Plato was breakin' it down on democracy over 2000 years ago.
As much as I loathe the idea of being governed by elitist shmucks, the thought of really turning it over to Beavis and Butthead has even less appeal.
Such a dilemma. . .
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
I think Robert Heinlein had an interesting idea that he put forth in Starship Troopers. The basic premise was that only citizens could vote. The only way you could become a citizen was to perform civic duty, for example serving in the military. The idea was that citizens were suited to vote because they had a sense of civic responsibility. There were also undertones that the assumption was made that citizens were morally superior to non-citizens, since they had chosen to take responsibility for society. This wasn't a class issue per se because non-citizens could still be wealthy and influential, they just had not chosen to take the responsibility that goes along with being a citizen.
Not at all saying that that is a viable method for us to realistically consider, but I do think it's interesting to think about.
Jason
Andrew Shafer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 338

I think a fun experiment in governance would be that only men can hold executive positions but only woman can vote or own property.
How's that for balance of power?
Greg Harris
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 12, 2001
Posts: 1012
that is an interesting proposition, andrew! the men would bend over backwards to impress the women and get the vote... wait a minute, men do that anyway... it is called dating! we spend our whole lives trying to impress a woman and "get her vote"... then we hold office as the "head of household" while the woman gets all the money and tells us what to do... that is called marraige.
Matthew Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
Originally posted by Andrew Shafer:

Is that its job? I always thought the electoral college was to ensure that the elitists who run the country would have a safety valve if the masses ever got any smart ideas about who should be president.
[b]

Actually, it was more along the lines of property owners, but other than that you are pretty dead on.

[B]
Another thing that doesn't make any damn sense is the electoral votes from a state voting as a block. How is that representative of the will of the people?


The President does not represent the people. He represents the executive branch of the federal government. As per the Constitution he is chosen by an electorate. The electorate is made of of representative of each state, the number of which equal the total number of senators and representatives. The method of determining the composition of the electorate in the control of state legislatures. The will of the people has nothing to do with it.


One more little thing to consider, the law says the VP and Pres can't both be from the same state. Right before the election, VP Dick changed his state of residence from Texas to Wyoming. Now, if this is a possible, how could that law ever come into play or be enforced?


Where is this said? The Constitution states that when electors cast their vote for President and Vice-President at least one of those shall not be an inhabitant of the same state as themselves.
Matthew Phillips
Matthew Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
The problem that the electoral college provides a solution to is the problem of having a regionally popular candidate from taking an election. Imagine a candidate that wins a very large percentage of the south but doesn't win anywhere else. In a popular election, that could be enough to win.
This is from a web site on the electoral college:
The big problem with direct elections is that voter fraud in one state (or even one county) can distort the election nationally. Running up the vote in a state that your candidate has already won is pointless under the electoral college. Based on this recent election, this could be a serious problem since voter fraud seemed to prevalent in many Democratic states.
Finally, the whole idea that Bush is not legitimate because he didn't win the popular vote is absurd. Bush and Gore knew the rules going in so they deliberately worked their campaign strategies based on the electoral college. Bush, for example, knew that he could never win NY so he didn't bother campaigning there. Under a popular contest he would have spent time in NY in hopes of increasing his losing percentage. The voters were aware of the rules also. If your candidate was going to lose in your state then their would be little reason to go vote for your candidate.

Very well said. I wish I could have put it better.
Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676

I'm not sure why people get so blindly attached to political parties in this country. Some people are fond of talking about members the "other" party as some sort of demonic minions.

I agree completely. The issues are the most important factor. I consider myself most closely affiliated with the Libertarian Party, but I have voted Republican and Democratic as well.


In Florida you have an investigation which concludes that African-Americans were disenfranchised and discouraged from voting by uniformed law enforcement. This would be bad enough if brother Jeb wasn't the governor.

This is patently false. There has not been a single voter in Florida that has gone on record to state that he/she was denied the right to vote based on race. The story is a media invention, nothing more.
Matthew Phillips
P.S. I posted this before seeing the articles. After seeing the articles I can offer an explanation on the issue of Osceola County. The week before the election, radio talk-show host Neil Boortz did a personal appearance and essentially campaigned for Harry Browne.
As to anything else in the articles, there is still no strong evidence of any wrongdoing. It is a lot of people saying "I know this happened" without offering anything to back it up.

[This message has been edited by Matthew Phillips (edited July 13, 2001).]
 
 
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