Wednesday, December 01, 2004


This past election saw more Americans turning out to vote than have visited the polls in many years. However, the next election may find fewer people lining up at the polls. Many are disillusioned about our electoral process and do not want to repeat what they call the American Electoral Circus, complete with clowns and dancing elephants!

There is no way to view this past election other than to feel cheated, in one way or another. First, despite all of the hoopla and demonstrations that proved a high school hacker could penetrate the voting machines and change the tide of American history, the dang things were STILL left without a paper trail. This was sheer nonsense, if not criminal, behavior. Most Americans wanted a paper trail, insisted upon one, told their Congressional representatives they wanted one. Yet it was ignored! Who's the boss here? Do we employ these guys or are we just puppets for them to manipulate?

Sure enough, after the echoes of the election have died down and George Bush is well on his way to diving into his planned agenda, we begin to hear terrible tales concerning the voting machines. One machine supposedly counted backward. Another machine is said to have turned Kerry votes into Bush votes. Another machine, it is said, recorded hundreds of votes from non-existent voters.

We just endured four years of an administration that many felt was put into place unjustly. For the first time, the Supreme Court, long admired for staying out of politics, decided just which candidate would become the next American president. And this happened because of a brouhaha over uncounted votes!

So, what we have done is endured another election with uncounted votes! For example, take the provisional ballots, a new phrase in the American political dictionary, like the famous hanging chads. Provisional ballots are evidently the ballots of those who may or may not be registered to vote and whose names do not appear on the rolls, or whose addresses have not been verified. Therefore, one could show up to vote with a passport, a driver's license, a birth certificate and a note from Mommy and still be turned away or given a provisional ballot. No wonder we are all confused.

This past election was fraught with rules and battling over the rules. Judges handed down this decision or that. Lawyers and poll watchers were on hand. The U.N. was called in to watch over us. One would have thought some obscure little rogue country was holding its first corrupt election. So great were the stakes in this seedy grab for power that neither party trusted the other. But no one, absolutely no one, insisted upon a paper trail, the logical answer.

In the poorer sections of Ohio, two or three voting machines were provided for the long lines of voters who turned out to do their civic duty. In the richer sections of town, ten or twelve voting machines were provided for the gentry to record their choice. People stood in line for as long as nine hours. College students, many voting for the first time, had trouble finding their precincts. Others complained that they were sent from one precinct to the other precinct, to no avail. Parking places were not provided for voters. And one precinct, it is said, was placed in a funeral home. Voters were forced to move their cars because a funeral took place during the voting process. If true, that opens up new possibilities. You could vote and send a neighbor off to his just rewards at the same time.

One state, I believe it was New Mexico, took several weeks to count the ballots. If a machine in Las Vegas had that much trouble counting, no one would ever win a jackpot. If a stamp machine took that long to spit out postage, no letter would be sent using stamps from that machine. If a Coke machine took that long to tumble down a bottle, the purchaser would get mighty thirsty.

We have Online Banking these days, said to be secure and easy, yet the voting machines were unreliable and problematic. And some people were uneasy because the machines were supposedly manufactured by a company run by a staunch Republican. Who was in charge of awarding that contract? Why weren't the voting machines manufactured in China? Everything else is.

Now the Ohio vote will be recounted, and possibly other states will follow suit. But it is beyond me what happens if irreversible errors are found. In a country that boasts about its honest elections and the fact that "every vote counts", this election seems to be a fiasco. Some votes evidently did not count and, with the Partisans working in polling places around the country, some of them may have counted and counted and counted.

As for the Electoral Vote, I think it is time we pitched it out with the dirty dishwater. With our computer capability, which was not evident in this election, political leaders could be selected on the popular vote. Our Founding Fathers did not have today's technology. They did the best they could. But to have our elections hinge upon the vote in a few select states, no matter whom the citizens of the country select, seems pretty outdated. I'm not fond of having Ohioans or those Florida retirees having the last word about our elections. Since Katherine Harris was rewarded with a juicy political post after the 2000 election, I haven't trusted those Florida folks at all....even if someone did help Katherine improve her makeup!

I have a feeling that tossing the Electoral Vote will not happen any time soon. Even a debate about it will not take place. I have a feeling that equipping those machines with a paper trail may not be a high priority! We have more important matters to discuss than safer, fairer Gay Marriage and whether or not beatings and sexual harassment are deemed as torture in military prisons.

John Kerry conceded the election the day after it happened, before the provisional and absentee votes were counted, before the voting machines were examined, before the lawsuits began to be filed in the courts. Why? Why, after he had promised an honest election? Why, when John Edwards stood up and said..."as long as it takes"?

Did Kerry know something the rest of us don't, or did he just heave a sigh of relief and say, "To Hell with it!"?