01.01.2009 0

The Joke’s on Us

  • On: 01/06/2009 10:17:31
  • In: Elections
  • By Isaac MacMillen

    Under Minnesota law, election officials are required to make a duplicate ballot if the original is damaged during Election Night counting. Officials are supposed to mark these as “duplicate” and segregate the original ballots. But it appears some officials may have failed to mark ballots as duplicates, which are now being counted in addition to the originals. This helps explain why more than 25 precincts now have more ballots than voters who signed in to vote. By some estimates this double counting has yielded Mr. Franken an additional 80 to 100 votes. -Wall Street Journal Op-Ed

    The situation in Minnesota has gone beyond the ridiculous into the absurd. It appears that someone forgot to tell Mr. Franken that his comedy routine was over. And while it might have evoked derisive laughter as a skit on Saturday Night Live, the steady stream of lopsided and irrational decisions made during the Minnesota senate recount has quickly traversed from lowbrow comedy to downright tragedy.

    The mess began when Senator Norm Coleman emerged from election night with an extremely narrow lead—about 215 votes. A state-mandated recount was triggered, and both sides brought challenges before the elections board. And that’s when the process became questionable. The Wall Street Journal provides a nice summation of the twists and turns:

    • Franken’s totals, aided by ACORN-supporting Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and his compliant state canvassing board, began to rise as multiple challenges were decided in his favor.

    • First came the county which had “lost” 133 ballots since election night. The board voted to go with their election night totals. Score 46 for Franken.

    • Next was the county which had 177 more votes than voters. The board voted to go with their new vote total, ignoring election night totals. Score 37 for Franken.

    • Absentee ballots which were “improperly rejected” have been collected in order to determine if they are acceptable or not. The Franken counties have sent in their absentee ballots—which were counted—while the Coleman counties are still compiling theirs. Sen. Coleman’s appeal to the state supreme court was rejected. (Of note is the fact that the chief justice was also on Mr. Ritchie’s canvassing board.) Score another 176 for Franken.

    And so on and so forth. Ad infinitum. Ad nausea.

    The real question is: How far does this type of political play go before the American people lose faith in the democratic system? Americans have already had to deal with ACORN and all its questionable voter registrations from the past several elections. Then there was the Washington-state vote fraud in 2004, which gave the Democrats the governor’s mansion. Add to that the investigation of Democratic Governor Rod Blagojavich. And former Governor Bill Richardson, President-elect Obama’s pick for Commerce Secretary, is also under scrutiny for pay-to-play corruption, to top it all off.

    Not quite the “change” people hoped for.

    While the Coleman campaign will likely file suit to prevent the state from certifying Franken as winner, long-term steps must be taken to ensure such travesties do not occur in the future.

    For starters, election officials must be held accountable. There is no national event more significant to Americans than Election Day and their ability to vote. It must be safeguarded with the utmost care. Election officials who are negligent, intentionally or not, must face severe penalties from their respective states. Missing ballots should constitute as grievous an offense in the public mind as missing classified documents would at the CIA.

    Additional measures, such as the elimination of voting methods that make room for questionable counts (such as early voting) must be strongly considered. And states must ensure that only actual residents (and citizens) are able to cast a ballot.

    What Democrats tried to do in Florida in 2000, they have finally perfected—manipulating a close election by rejecting valid ballots and adding invalid ballots until victory is theirs. Unfortunately, this time they seem to have succeeded. And despite what Mr. Franken might think, it’s not funny.

    Isaac MacMillen is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.

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