Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Maybe I was brain-dead . . .

I don't know why, but as I was watching the returns last night and processing all the rhetoric from the Democrats, both on television and in the online community, the significance of the "Help America Vote Act" and the push for provisional and absentee ballots finally dawned on me.

Florida 2000 redeux.

Think about it. How many times were the ballots in Florida gone over with a fine-toothed comb in search of that elusive 500 votes for Gore? That's just not possible when there aren't any paper ballots. There's also the question of all those absentee ballots--something that the Dems were pushing for very strongly, telling folks that voting by absentee ballot would ensure that their vote would be counted. Well, it also ensures that their vote could be counted, recounted, altered, thrown out, or multiplied to suit the DNC's purposes.

Absentee ballots have a place. There are some people who, because of work, school, or other committments, must be away from their home area on election day. These folks deserve an absentee ballot. It's generally not their fault or choice to be away, and they still should have the option of making their voice heard. This year, however, many people unnecessarily cast their ballot through the absentee process. This produces scores of ballots that must be verified and counted after-the-fact, and leaves more room for human error. As we saw in 2000, the DNC is more than willing to use human error to benefit their candidate.

The idea of provisional ballots reads well on paper. If someone shows up at a voting precinct and their name isn't on the rolls, they now have the option of casting a ballot that will be evaluated for validity at a later time. There is a huge problem here, however. The number of provisional ballots exploded this election, and this turns into a mess as people have to evaluate whether an individual is actually a registered voter. By necessity, part of the ballot may be invalid, even if they're registered, because of the local races that differ precinct to precinct, but at the same time, without an extensive amount of research on each ballot, many will be impossible to solidly verify. Consider that a provisional ballot may only be certified as valid if the voter is proven to be legally registered, and that there exists no evidence that the same person has voted, whether by provisional ballot or not, in any other precinct in this election--nationwide! Looking further into the logistics of this mess, every provisional ballot would have to be recorded in a nation-wide database, and compared with every precinct's voter roll, then every matching name checked and double-checked against other information, possibly calling into play witnesses from the polls in question to verify that someone actually did or did not appear in person at a given precinct. Got a headache yet?

Not one to throw out a problem without a fix in mind, I'll address the better way of doing things in a later post.

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