Posted by Kevin Matthews on November 08, 2000 at 20:44:01:
Thanks for your thoughts! Please note that I am not suggesting undermining the electoral college, or changing the rules one iota. I'm not suggesting that we abolish it, and I don't actually think it is anachronistic. It has just been dormant so long, we've collectively forgotten what it is for. Although it's all pretty far in the past, because we haven't run into one of these for a few generations, I think there's strong historical precedent for what I'm suggesting.
The vast majority of the electors, in nearly all the states, are free to change their vote. Under normal conditions, that would be unconscionable. But it is a little like having a jury decide the outcome of a trial. No system is technically perfect, and sometimes the human judgment factor is what can still get you to the morally and ethically correct answer. That's why we have this system.
As for waiting for the vote to get counted right, I bring a bit of personal experience into the situation which colors that idea. Back in 1980, in Santa Cruz, California, I served as one of the county election commissioners, together with a couple of other commissioners who also took their duties unusually seriously, and were also unusually unintimidated about the computer systems being used for the voting and tabulation. In short, although there was no evidence for any particular fraud, the system of checks through the tabulating system did not fully check out. There were discrepancies on the order of 2 to 3 votes per precinct that could not be accounted for. None of the races were so close that such a small margin mattered, so eventually, after two or three days, we succumbed to the pressure to sign off, without getting to the bottom of everything.
My perception is that this level of inaccuracy is pretty normal, and it just doesn't get talked about, because it certainly undermines the concept of the sanctity of every vote. Even just from the mechanical effects of where the hole punch-outs flap and flutter, there will be at least hundreds of votes variance from count to count of six million ballots.
So, as some commentator who had studied vote recount issues said on NBC last night, resolving vote counting issues is an art, rather than a science. In other words, it is a process open to negotiation, pressure, and additional levels of manipulation. In the courts, it easily takes serval months.
I'm not comfortable with a little drama like that off in Florida, in a Bush-run state, being the determinant of the results of a hard fought national election. I don't think a convincing result will ever emerge - the sampling process just doesn't have enough resolution. Inaccuracy is inherent when voting gets down to the fifth decimal place.
The everyday approach to our voting system works because accuracy in the fifth decimal place is hardly ever needed. In this case, the counting system is being pushed beyond its point of technical meaningfulness. Thankfully, our Constitution provides a human element, so we don't need to be driven by an accident of technical nonsense. We just need to activate that human element, to make sure it makes the only reasonable correction.
But hey, it's an adventure, right? We'll see what happens!
On 11/8/00 at 8:28 PM, DAVID A. TAKAMI
] I am as fervant a liberal as any, but I can't sign this petition--the rules
] of the game are governed by the electoral college system, like it or not. I
] favor recounting the vote and contesting the obvious voting irregularities
] in Palm Beach County and elsewhere. If these don't pan out, we (Gore) should
] concede as soon as possible and get on with it.
] -----Original Message-----
] From: Kevin Matthews
] To: Environmental Voters For Gore
] Cc: The Gore/Lieberman Campaign
; Carl Pope -
] Executive Director - The Sierra Club
] Date: Wednesday, November 08, 2000 5:18 PM
] Subject: Trust The People Petition to George W. Bush
] >Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Citizens,
] >Wow. Amazing. What a night!
] >Thank you, thank you for all your incredible support for the 'Letter to
] Nader' petition. With a little help from this petition (shown by your
] enthusiasm -- and the testimonies we've received of real votes changed!) and
] a huge, impressive campaign effort and get out the vote, we fought this
] thing to a draw. So far so good.
] >Now let's get it off dead center! Let's get this viewpoint into the
] press - right now! Please read, sign, and publicize the new "Trust
] the People" petition to George W. Bush:
] > *** http://www.PetitionOnline.com/trust1/petition.html ***
] >Basically, the petition says since Florida is a tie (even though run by his
] brother!) Bush should ask the electoral college to go by the popular vote.
] But please read it, as there's a lot of detial.
] >Once again, we have an amazing opportunity. Every signature we get on this
] petition will help create a climate for honorable instead of arbitrary
] resolution of a true democratic crisis.
] >There's no telling where things will go with the Florida recount, but if we
] can move fast enough, we can help create a political opening for the Gore
] victory that the strong center/left majority in the US really, really
] >And at the very, very least, at least we get to do SOMETHING about it!
] >Best wishes again,
] >Kevin Matthews
] >Eugene, Oregon
**** http://www.PetitionOnline.com/trust1/petition.html ****
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Kevin Matthews, firstname.lastname@example.org
541-345-7421 vox, 541-345-7438 fax, P.O. Box 1588, Eugene, OR 97440