Friday, December 17, 2004


Sound Politics has been keeping a close eye on the numerous recounts in the Washington state governor's race between Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi. The whole process is laughable, but one incident in particular, if true, is absolutely incredible:
The oval for Gregoire was filled in and the write-in line had the name "Christine Rossi" written in. The Canvassing Board voted 2 to 1 to count it as a vote for Gregoire. [Canvassing board member Dan Satterberg] dissented because of [the] past practice of declaring an "overvote" when the voter both fills in an oval for a declared candidate then writes a different name in the write-in line. Had the name on the write-in line been the same as the candidate next to the oval, [the] past practice would have dictated that it be counted as a valid vote for that candidate.
What a mess.

UPDATE: Over at Power Line, a reader adds this bit of information about the controversy:
The voter also filled in the bubble and wrote the name of the candidate in the write-in line throughout their ballot. It wasn't reported if the voter got first and last names screwed up in other races. What can you say about voters like this other than since they can't understand ballot instructions, they shouldn't be voting.
This at least explains something about this voter. I think, though, that when you have mixed up write in names, the practice has been to throw out ballots with different write in names than bubbles, and the write in name's last name conflicts with the bubbled in last name, then you have to throw it out. The reason: formalism should triumph in mass vote counting. The alternative is conflict, partisanship, and chaos.

As a thought experiment, say a million people line up to place a bet on the World Series. A woman with a Boston Red Sox cap walks up, hands a slip that places a bet on the "St. Louis Red Sox" to the guy at the window, and walks away. Should the clerk change the slip? Does the bet pay out?

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