Thursday, December 02, 2004

Votes, Shmotes

As Echidne notes, citing an article in the Boston Globe, there continues to be a rumbling about whether the voting in the US was conducted and counted properly. There seem to be several possibilities here:

1. The voting was conducted and counted properly, more or less. There have been some errors and discrepancies, but these discrepancies (a) are no more than usual and (b) have only come to light in a more-than-usual fashion because there has been much more intense scrutiny.

2. The voting was not conducted or counted properly, in at least a few places. In all of these places the improprieties were a result of plain old incompetence.

3. The voting was not conducted or counted properly, in at least a few places. While incompetence explains some improprieties, others are a result of actual tampering, either by tampering with the computers (by far the easiest thing to do, in places where there's no paper record) or through some other method.

It's too soon to tell which of these statements is true. Every vote should be counted--contrary to that judge in Nevada, who says it's not necessary because it won't affect the results of the election (and how does he know that for sure? and what difference does that make?). In addition, flaws in the systems should be identified and addressed. No telling whether that will happen, of course, and I'd bet not, but it will surely help if responsible journalists continue to probe.

Of course, this leaves aside the "conducted properly" ball of wax--people who wanted to vote and for some reason were unable to do so, either because their registration was thrown out by hirelings of the Republicans or because they were misdirected or intimidated in some way. That one can't be addressed properly at this point, except to take action against the people who threw out registrations, for example.

But I'd think it would, in fact, be in the interests of everyone who truly supports democratic principles to make sure that votes get counted and that citizens vote. If you agree, then certainly voting irregularities of whatever kind should be minimized and votes should be counted. If you don't think it's necessary to count every vote, then it's not clear to me how you could argue that you support democratic principles.

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