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Old 1st May 2012, 03:27 PM   #1
Jomante
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Suggestions for Presidential Elections

What are your gripes and/or suggestions for ways the Presidential elections in the United States could be handled better?

I know one of the suggestions is going to be "do away with the electoral system and make it popular vote" so I'll stick that out there so dozens of others don't have to repeat it.

One thing I'd like to see change is the poll projections as states close. Living in the west, I usually end up hearing who the next president is before I even get off work to go vote. I suspect other people in Alaska and Hawaii feel the same. Can't the media just keep quiet about it until everybody has had their chance to vote? Let the polls in Hawaii close, then have a special announcement at the close of the market the next day. It'll give the news media time to make sure of their numbers and you could have a split camera view of the candidates as the announcement is shown. Ok, maybe I've been watching too many game shows.

So what are your ideas / gripes?
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Old 1st May 2012, 03:40 PM   #2
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Hang 'em the moment they're nominated. Anyone willing to do what they do to get the job doesn't deserve the job.
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Old 1st May 2012, 03:46 PM   #3
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One problem I have with a popular vote election is that you would end up with heavy campaigning in like 8 states and the rest of the country would barely even be given much notice at all.

I agree about poll projections, especially in states with multiple time zones. Seems like it could potentially skew results .
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Old 1st May 2012, 03:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Can't the media just keep quiet about it until everybody has had their chance to vote?
Not an American but France is running into the same issues:

The voting in different timezones (overseas territories + expatriates) is scaled so that to happen before the voting in french metropole (which accounts for a huge part of the vote). But for the continental part of the USA this is not useful as it would mean that polls need to close X (two?) hours earlier in California, an unfair, self defeating, impractical result.

Which leads us to the second issue: the problem now is that even if there is a legal obligation to disclose the result only at a certain time (like it is so in France, and probably in the US), you ran into several problems:

- Opinion polls are conducted all throughout the day to achieve some realistic projections and they will get leaked as I suspect they are already widely circulating among party insiders.
- Foreign media does not have to abide to the law and will not sit on his hands for one of the most important elections of the planet.
- It's unrealistic to expect internet users will not disseminate (correct or incorrect) projections and results.

Short of a law being tightly applied to the point of tracking every offender, I'm afraid you will continue to be spoilt of the result.

Last edited by Laeke; 1st May 2012 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 1st May 2012, 03:56 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Laeke View Post
Not an American but France is running into the same issues:

The voting in different timezones (overseas territories + expatriates) is scaled so that to happen before the voting in french metropole. But for the continental part of the USA this is not practical as it would mean that polls need to close two hours earlier in California and be rendered impractical for voters such as yourself.

Which leads us to the second issue: the problem now is that even if there is a legal obligation to disclose the result only at a certain time (like it is so in France), you ran into several problems:

- Opinion polls are conducted all throughout the day to achieve some realistic projections and they will get leaked.
- Foreign media does not have to abide to the law.
- It's unrealistic to expect internet users will not disseminate (correct or incorrect) projections and results.

Short of a law being tightly applied to the point of tracking every offender, I'm afraid you will continue to be spoilt of the result.
Opinion polls and even projections based on exit polling data don't have quite the weight that official numbers have when the precincts start reporting in. You always have the chance that the state that was called for one candidate suddenly gets reversed or changed back to "too close to call" as has happened previously. Indeed, the 2004 election was one of the few elections where nobody truly knew until after everybody had a chance to vote. Nail biting. Fun! Of course, I knew my candidate was going to lose either way, having voted for a third party candidate.
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Old 1st May 2012, 06:24 PM   #6
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I would hope that after the fiascos with exit polling in 2000 and 2004 that the media would keep their yaps shut about projections based on those numbers, especially in battleground states.
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Old 1st May 2012, 06:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by BravesFan View Post
One problem I have with a popular vote election is that you would end up with heavy campaigning in like 8 states and the rest of the country would barely even be given much notice at all.
Why? Surely a popular vote would result in genuine national campaigning instead of candidates ignoring the solid states and the states with small electoral collage returns.
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Old 1st May 2012, 06:35 PM   #8
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Although this might not be quite what the OP has in mind a friend of mine wants all terms of office to be longer but with no re-election option. That is, each person can only ever have one term as a representative, a senator, a president etc... which lasts six years but they won't get another term in office. In his view this will cut down on the number of career politicians and will freshen up the mid-terms with more points of view entering the game.
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Old 1st May 2012, 06:36 PM   #9
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For elections at all levels, I would like all junk mail and public junk such as signs to be outlawed.
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Old 1st May 2012, 06:52 PM   #10
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  1. Vote by mail. First on my list, and a true no brainer. We vote this way in Oregon, and it's the best. You have two weeks to vote, you can research issues as you fill out your ballot, and there are never, ever lines. And because the votes come in unmarked outer envelopes, there's no hanky panky with precincts turning people away. Voter ID laws would just go away into the dustbin of history.
  2. Instant runoff voting. This way the Naderites and Paultards would get their fondest wishes granted and could vote for whomever they wanted without being "spoilers". You simply rank the candidates by desirability. Then you pick the top two "first place" vote getters and parse out the remaining ballots until you have a winner. If a "fringe" candidate could actually win, no amount of fearmongering on the part of the two big parties could sway voters.
I'd start there.
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Old 1st May 2012, 06:59 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Why? Surely a popular vote would result in genuine national campaigning instead of candidates ignoring the solid states and the states with small electoral collage returns.
172 million people live on 10 states, and 138 million live in the other 40.

I just think that this put too much power into too few of states.

I'm gonna go do a popular vote check on all elections Vs electoral vote and report back in with the results...

back in a minute
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Old 1st May 2012, 07:03 PM   #12
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Andrew Jackson, Sam Tilden, Grover Cleveland and Al Gore are the only folks to win the popular vote and lose the election... i'm not sure that this is enough to ditch the electoral college.
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Old 1st May 2012, 07:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by BravesFan View Post
Andrew Jackson, Sam Tilden, Grover Cleveland and Al Gore are the only folks to win the popular vote and lose the election... i'm not sure that this is enough to ditch the electoral college.
I don't know what you mean by this. What is "not enough" to ditch the electoral collage?

Besides, while you say that 172 million live in 10 states, how many states are currently heavily campaigned in? Surely with the popular vote then campaigning by state becomes less important. Presidential candidates campaign in states because they are chasing electoral college votes. If they were chasing popular votes then while you may object to candidates concentrating on cities I don't see why any campaign stategist would deliberately not go to the 30 states where 138 million people live.

I really don't understand your objections.
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Old 1st May 2012, 07:16 PM   #14
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I just think it isolates too much power into too few states. I also think that it would cause and even bigger mess if the elections are really close. I don't think anyone wants there to be 200 "Florida 2000 election fiascos" going on at once eh?
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Old 1st May 2012, 07:19 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by BravesFan View Post
I just think it isolates too much power into too few states. I also think that it would cause and even bigger mess if the elections are really close. I don't think anyone wants there to be 200 "Florida 2000 election fiascos" going on at once eh?
No, what the electoral college does is exactly what you don't want. How can you say that power is not isolated in a few states when you next bring up the fact that everything hinged on Florida in 2000. If there were 200 election fiascos going on that would imply a broadening of power. Wouldn't it? Surely?
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Old 1st May 2012, 07:21 PM   #16
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No, all it would do is cause an increase in election problems, lawsuits and an even bigger crevasse between the parties IMO.

The Electoral College has worked this long, I see no reason to ditch it.
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Old 1st May 2012, 10:22 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by BravesFan View Post
I just think it isolates too much power into too few states. I also think that it would cause and even bigger mess if the elections are really close. I don't think anyone wants there to be 200 "Florida 2000 election fiascos" going on at once eh?
States don't vote, people do. And the EC means that most of the attention go to States because the people in them happen to be more evenly divided.

Originally Posted by BravesFan
172 million people live on 10 states, and 138 million live in the other 40.

I just think that this put too much power into too few of states.
And the current system does that as well as giving power to fewer people.

Quote:
As we’ve shown at FairVote in study after study, the great majority of people and states are ignored during the election for our country’s highest office. In 2008, all 300 of the campaign events with major party candidates for president and vice-president that took place after the Republican National Convention were in just 19 states. From September 24 – two days before the first general election debate – through Election Day on November 4, 99.75% of all advertising spending was in just 18 states.

But in the 2008 election, every state was invested at least in one way – they all had residents who donated to and financed the two major party candidates’ campaigns. However, when it came down to the stretch run, the candidates did not reciprocate this national effort. The remaining 32 states and the District of Columbia that received a combined 0.25% of campaign advertising were left as net exporters, sometimes in massive sums, of campaign money.
http://www.fairvote.org/following-th...e#.T6DAve3UPOE

According to that data, the top ten States have a combined population of just 76,930,679 or 24.97% of the total population, yet they receive 85.85% of campaigning.

Looking at the obvious perversities of who the end winner is overlooks the fact that candidates are responding to only a minority of voters. This is much more concerning to me than saying "Oh no, places with more people get more attention."
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Old 1st May 2012, 10:34 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Tsukasa Buddha View Post
States don't vote, people do. And the EC means that most of the attention go to States because the people in them happen to be more evenly divided.



And the current system does that as well as giving power to fewer people.



http://www.fairvote.org/following-th...e#.T6DAve3UPOE

According to that data, the top ten States have a combined population of just 76,930,679 or 24.97% of the total population, yet they receive 85.85% of campaigning.

Looking at the obvious perversities of who the end winner is overlooks the fact that candidates are responding to only a minority of voters. This is much more concerning to me than saying "Oh no, places with more people get more attention."
well that data is wrong, I got my population numbers from the 2010 census official site.....

So you are saying it won't change anything by goin to a popular vote? (perhaps it won't, so why change it?)



ETA: unless that 77 million figure refers only to registered voters, but then it wouldn't be accurate to compare them as only 25% of the population, it would make them probably 60-70% of registered voters ....

Last edited by BravesFan; 1st May 2012 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 1st May 2012, 10:37 PM   #19
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Personally, I'd like to change the primary system so that everyone can stop endorsing corn subsidies. If we had it on one day, people might not get "fully vetted", but I'm starting to think I'd prefer going to that than the endless game of "momentum" from winning tiny portions of the populace.

And, of course, we should have IRV for the main event.

Dream World: Ban all commercials, calling people, yard signs, and televised restaurant visits .
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Old 1st May 2012, 10:38 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by BravesFan View Post
well that data is wrong, I got my population numbers from the 2010 census official site.....

So you are saying it won't change anything by goin to a popular vote? (perhaps it won't, so why change it?)



ETA: unless that 77 million figure refers only to registered voters, but then it wouldn't be accurate to compare them as only 25% of the population, it would make them probably 60-70% of registered voters ....
Um, I think you are misinterpreting. That was the population of the top ten campaigned States, not most populous.

ETA: I also used the 2010 census data.
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Old 1st May 2012, 10:49 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Laeke View Post
But for the continental part of the USA this is not useful as it would mean that polls need to close X (two?) hours earlier in California, an unfair, self defeating, impractical result.

Not at all. Canada introduced staggered polling hours some years ago, and it seems to work well enough. Polls may close earlier in some locales but they also open earlier, so the number of hours available to vote is the same. Plus there are several advance polling days when one can vote if one cannot do so on the actual election day.

(Heck, federal elections here still use hand-marked paper ballots that are counted by hand. Yet we nevertheless have enough polling results within a couple of hours of the polls closing to make projections as to who's won what ridings and which party has won how many seats.)

In regards to news coverage of election results, by law in Canada the election results from other provinces cannot be broadcast until the polls in that province are closed. (Though of course in this age of the internet this is more difficult to police.)
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Old 1st May 2012, 10:53 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Lisa Simpson View Post
For elections at all levels, I would like all junk mail and public junk such as signs to be outlawed.
Free speech?
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Old 1st May 2012, 11:33 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Corsair 115 View Post
Not at all. Canada introduced staggered polling hours some years ago, and it seems to work well enough. Polls may close earlier in some locales but they also open earlier, so the number of hours available to vote is the same. Plus there are several advance polling days when one can vote if one cannot do so on the actual election day.
Interesting.
What would be your typical hours to open and close polls on the East & the West coast?
France votes on Sundays on a 8-18h backett (20h for major cities). Polling for farthest overseas polls starts on Saturday.
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Old 1st May 2012, 11:59 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Laeke View Post
Interesting.
What would be your typical hours to open and close polls on the East & the West coast?

For all the information one could want on the Canadian electoral system, just visit the Elections Canada web site.

To answer your specific question, polls in federal elections are open for twelve hours on election day. The times are staggered as follows by time zone:

Newfoundland time: 8:30 am - 8:30 pm
Atlantic time: 8:30 am - 8:30 pm
Eastern time: 9:30 am - 9:30 pm
Central time: 8:30 am - 8:30 pm
Mountain time: 7:30 am - 7:30 pm
Pacific time: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm

Converting those local values in Eastern time, the hours are:

Newfoundland: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Atlantic: 7:30 am - 7:30 pm
Eastern: 9:30 am - 9:30 pm
Central: 9:30 am - 9:30 pm
Mountain: 9:30 am - 9:30 pm
Pacific: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm

Not perfectly staggered, but fairly close. The polls for the vast majority of Canadians close within half an hour of each other. It's only in Atlantic Canada and Newfoundland that there is a wider difference, but then those areas only comprise 7% of the country's total population, and it wouldn't be practical to have polls closing there at 10:00 pm (or later) locally just in order to get the closing time within a half-hour of the other areas.

There are also three days set aside for advance polls, where voters can cast ballots rather than waiting for election day itself. These are open for eight hours, from noon to 8 p.m. locally.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 12:06 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by BravesFan View Post
One problem I have with a popular vote election is that you would end up with heavy campaigning in like 8 states and the rest of the country would barely even be given much notice at all.
Isn't that how it is under the current system?

A few states that are considered "swing states" (not more than about 8) get all the attention and most of the others are ignored.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 12:09 AM   #26
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The one suggestion I would make is to have a runoff election. It could possibly be an "instant runoff" to save time and extra trips to the polls, although it might be more confusing for some voters.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 08:28 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
The one suggestion I would make is to have a runoff election. It could possibly be an "instant runoff" to save time and extra trips to the polls, although it might be more confusing for some voters.
Well, just have them rank the people from top to bottom.

Instead of "Mark a circle next to one candidate", it'd be "rank each candidate in order of your preference, starting with your favored candidate as #1"

So at its simplest, just put a 1 next to your candidate. People could then choose the rest at their pleasure.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 11:11 AM   #28
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This idea is more related to the campaign than the actual election, but...

I'd love to see a cap on the amount each candidate can spend (on all levels in elections). Make the cap scale to the population that the candidate would represent (ie candidates for President would be allowed the most, governors next, followed by senators, representatives, then legislator). Allow the candidate to get funding from ANY SOURCE up to the total limit, but then nothing else beyond that.

Then it is up to the candidate to get the candidate's message out to as many voters as possible on a limited budget.

I think forcing all candidates to show how they can make most efficient use of the money given to them within their budget would be a particularly good feature. And it would be very revealing to see if the candidate takes the time to raise the money from grassroots fundraisers, or decides to just accept one chunk from one business.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 11:17 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Free speech?
They are free to advertise in ways that do not trash the place or waste resources. Did I say they couldn't advertise on TV, radio, phone calls or the internet? No, I did not.
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Old 4th May 2012, 10:45 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Laeke View Post
Not an American but France is running into the same issues:

The voting in different timezones (overseas territories + expatriates) is scaled so that to happen before the voting in french metropole (which accounts for a huge part of the vote). But for the continental part of the USA this is not useful as it would mean that polls need to close X (two?) hours earlier in California, an unfair, self defeating, impractical result.

Which leads us to the second issue: the problem now is that even if there is a legal obligation to disclose the result only at a certain time (like it is so in France, and probably in the US), you ran into several problems:

- Opinion polls are conducted all throughout the day to achieve some realistic projections and they will get leaked as I suspect they are already widely circulating among party insiders.
- Foreign media does not have to abide to the law and will not sit on his hands for one of the most important elections of the planet.
- It's unrealistic to expect internet users will not disseminate (correct or incorrect) projections and results.

Short of a law being tightly applied to the point of tracking every offender, I'm afraid you will continue to be spoilt of the result.


The current state of at least waiting until each state or area's polls close, and only then announcing projected winners (if such is warranted by statistics) is itself a big improvement.

They used to tell people, well, Georgia or Maine or whatever is already projected to be a win for X...at 4 in the afternoon.

Then people stop going to the polls there. At best, the results of other elections they would have voted on are now permaqueered, and at worst, the poll would have been wrong and the result totally different.


And yes people in Hawaii get PO'd that it's declared over almost before they eat their cereal. However, I do get a little kick out of an overall winner being projected before California's polls closed. IIRC, this once happened for a Republican, and the Democrats panicked, calling out for people in California to go to the polls anyway precisely because of all these other things being voted on.



Good luck convincing news outlets to voluntarily hold off until Wednesday just on principle. And barring a change to the First Amendment, you'll never get such a law passed. And even gooder luck with that.
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The government should nationalize it! Socialized, single-payer video game development and sales now! More, cheaper, better games, right? Right?

Last edited by Beerina; 4th May 2012 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 4th May 2012, 10:50 PM   #31
Beerina
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Originally Posted by BravesFan View Post
172 million people live on 10 states, and 138 million live in the other 40.

I just think that this put too much power into too few of states.

I'm gonna go do a popular vote check on all elections Vs electoral vote and report back in with the results...

back in a minute

Well this is exactly why getting rid of the electoral system won't happen. It would require a constitutional amendment, and those other 40 states (and some of the 10) aren't gonna go for it just to make the concrete canyon dwellers in New York and California feel good about themselves as the center of the universe.
__________________
"Great innovations should not be forced [by way of] slender majorities." - Thomas Jefferson

The government should nationalize it! Socialized, single-payer video game development and sales now! More, cheaper, better games, right? Right?

Last edited by Beerina; 4th May 2012 at 10:53 PM.
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