Monday, November 3, 2008

Why so long?

Vote count could be lengthy process goes over the possibility that a very closely contested election in Ohio could (in theory) go all the way to December before being finalized...

" ... Election officials say most paper ballots will not be counted until the day after Election Day. And vote totals are not considered official until counties spend 10 days counting provisional, military and absentee ballots. Most county boards of elections plan to count absentee ballots first, after the polls close at 7:30 p.m. Memory cards from touch-screen machines in 53 counties, including Butler County, will then be tabulated, and after that is done, workers will begin scanning paper ballots cast at the polls. Provisional ballots, military ballots and any absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 will be counted if they are received by Nov. 14. Nov. 15-25, those ballots are counted by counties before official results can be certified by Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. That happens no later than Dec. 9, said Kevin Kidder, a spokesman for Brunner, unless there is recount ..." And all of this assumes that an automatic re-count is not triggered (e.g. if the margin of victory is less than 0.25% in the presidential race)

In this day and age this is ridiculous. Why do we have a system in place (this example may be from Ohio, but it is similar to setups in other states) that is guaranteed to "break" in the event of a very close election? No one is ever going to wait until December to know who the next President will be... various organizations will do projections and call the race one way or the other, the "loser" will come under major pressure to be "a good loser" and concede. Fortunately, most of the time the election is not so close that this is an issue, but surely we can have a much better system in place that is guaranteed to produce results within 24 to 72 hours, no matter how close the election may be (even down to a single vote difference)!

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