Tuesday, January 06, 2009

More Ballots Than Voters

Wall Street Journal on the Minnesota Senate soap opera.
Mr. Franken started the recount 215 votes behind Senator Coleman, but he now claims a 225-vote lead and suddenly the man who was insisting on "counting every vote" wants to shut the process down. He's getting help from Mr. Ritchie and his four fellow Canvassing Board members, who have delivered inconsistent rulings and are ignoring glaring problems with the tallies.

Under Minnesota law, election officials are required to make a duplicate ballot if the original is damaged during Election Night counting. Officials are supposed to mark these as "duplicate" and segregate the original ballots. But it appears some officials may have failed to mark ballots as duplicates, which are now being counted in addition to the originals. This helps explain why more than 25 precincts now have more ballots than voters who signed in to vote. By some estimates this double counting has yielded Mr. Franken an additional 80 to 100 votes.

This disenfranchises Minnesotans whose vote counted only once. And one Canvassing Board member, State Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, has acknowledged that "very likely there was a double counting." Yet the board insists that it lacks the authority to question local officials and it is merely adding the inflated numbers to the totals.
I have more than a few questions regarding procedures.

First, I get the duplicate ballot issue. But how damaged are those ballots? How are duplicate ballots created? How are they checked to ensure that they accurately reflect the desires of the voter? Who does this duplicating?

Second, if the canvassing board doesn't have the authority to question local election officials, who does? Under what circumstances? Why can't the canvassing board--whose job is to ensure an accurate count in an election, question local officials who are supplying them with the votes to be counted?

A larger question is this, why the hell can't we get this right? Seriously, eight years after Bush v. Gore and the PRESIDENTIAL election showing we had real errors in our election administration, why can't we get this right. I mean, eight years ago, we didn't really have MP3 players or iPods, but now my iPod has more memory than my first laptop computer, and it is smaller. We have iPhones and other smart phones that have the capability to do pretty much anything we need and what we need is a consistent, accurate, reliable and secure method of electing people of office.

For Pete's sake, can we get this process right or not.

For lots of coverage, see the Election Law @ Moritz site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The WSJ editorial is factually incorrect. See http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/01/did-wall-street-jorunal-fire-their-fact.html for a step by step debunking of most of the "facts" this editorial claims to be true.

One of the judges involved in the recount process berated the WSJ for their factually incorrect opinion piece, as well. You can read that here: http://www.minnpost.com/braublog/2009/01/06/5639/recount_judge_blasts_wall_street_journal

Finally, if you want information on the Minnesota election and recount process, including all the applicable statutes, please see the Minnesota Secretary of State's website, http://www.sos.state.mn.us/home/index.asp?page=4.

Hope this information helps in your quest to understand Minnesota's election process.