Palaver from Persimmon Crossingwith Warren Faulk
Again With the Voting ThingWell it looks like I was wrong. It is still pretty hard to vote. To vote and be sure whether and for whom your vote is counted.
Around here I hear people still lambasting VP Gore for not folding his tent and going home. I am in Bush country you see. But if I were Mr Gore I too wouldn't have quit until all my remedies had been explored. And if my guy, Ralph Nader, was up there I would want him to stay the course.
Now our system has produced a President, whether or not the voters granted that person a clear mandate. And America will go on.
Some will remember, from my earlier ramblings, that I had some problems exercising my voting rights in my younger years. Until the last few days, I had thought that my later votes, cast in four states by personal appearance and absentee ballot, were counted as I intended them to be. Circle this, X that, punch the other ... or write it in.
Fact is, I have voted in Florida, Alabama, Texas and Georgia over the years. I don't think I have participated in two elections in a row where the procedure was the same, even in the same state or precinct. I cannot tell you what my "chad" did in any particular election. I do not know what standards, if any, were applied if my absentee ballot did not receive a postmark, etc., etc.
I never gave much thought, before now, to the implications of having every voting authority throughout the country designing ballots and drafting standards for evaluating the intent of voters in national elections. I do know from experience that designing forms for others to use is very, very difficult. I do know that some people are nervous when they go to vote. Others cannot read. Some are too embarrassed to ask for clarification, some in too big a hurry. Some, like me, just cruise along, assuming the act of voting is easier than it really is. You vote and you just assume it counts. Nobody tells you if your vote is rejected or is registered for the wrong candidate. And yet all of us have the right to have our votes counted accurately if at all possible.
I think we should have a publicized accounting by precinct of every ballot issued. So many issued, so many for Smith, so many for Jones, so many voided, so many disqualified and the reasons therefore. Wouldn't hurt to put serial numbers on them, that way you might be able to check up on your vote.
I am convinced that for national offices we should have a standardized voting procedure and universal rules for dealing with every ballot cast for the offices of President and Vice President. That these ballots should not be cluttered up with all the other state and local candidates, propositions and tax issues. Things that might confuse the voter and create a minefield for the canvassing boards.
It might not be possible to fashion a perfect system, but we can get much closer than we have to date. We are a highly mobile society. Why should we have to relearn how to vote every time we move or some local official decides to change the rules for voting for President?
The likelihood for bias and and voter error is being heavily underscored in Florida. I believe the several counties being focused on in Florida are no better ... and no worse ... than the "average" county nationwide. From what we have learned these past two weeks, that's pretty bad. Who did the "majority" prefer as its President? We'll never know. This election WILL go down in history as one we were never sure about. And it should also go down in history as the one that showed us the error of our ways .
I saw a news report offering the Canadian system as a model for us to use. They apparently have an organization that runs the entire voting process. The ballots for national offices are produced and distributed from a central location to the entire country. They are in bold print and require the voter to handwrite an X for each choice. Counting is manual and there is little opportunity for misunderstanding. The ballot has been in use for several decades. There may be other designs out there that merit a look. Let's take that look and develop a voting system that meets our needs.
-- Warren Faulk
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