Sunday, January 4, 2009
The 2008 election will never end! Behold Minnesota's Senate race.
I thought Election 2008 would be long over come the first weeks of January, but us Minnesotans have managed to stretch out the process an additional two months. I'm pretty sure that this whole campaign started back in the 1900s sometime, but I digress.
Yes, we've stretched out this election process because of our stupidly close Senate race which has pitted incumbent Norm Coleman up against Al Franken. The vote was so close that we triggered an automatic recount because the final tally at the end of election day was something like one tenth of one one hundredth of one millionth percent. Like I said, stupidly close.
After the original count, Coleman claimed victory with a couple thousand votes narrowly separating himself from the SNL alum. Then the recount began. I never had put much thought or interest in a recount since nothing I had ever voted in was that close that a recount was necessary. Here in Minnesota we have those optical scan ballots (think elementary school scantron), which really eliminates the subjective nature of voting that marred the 2000 Florida recount with those hanging, poking, touched, looked at chads that officials had to guess as to the true nature of the voter. I figured that we Minnesotans and our technology savvy optical scan ballots would avoid the potential problems. I was wrong.
I thought that recounts would be honest and quick. What would be so wrong with double checking the ballots and making sure the right guy won? In short, a lotta stuff.
Subjectivity reentered the picture with election crews determining whether an X through one circle was really a vote or was retracting that vote, whether duplicate ballots had been counted, whether absentee ballots should be allowed or not, whether the moon was waxing or waning. It's insane the amount of effort people put into screwing up an election. There is no massive conspiracy here, but for heaven's sake, it's a damn bubble. Fill it in or don't. There shouldn't be gray area here.
As the legal challenges mounted, ballots were found, others disallowed and the recount entering its ninth week, Minnesota is edging closer to having a senator. The margin of difference varies daily, but it looks like Al Franken will represent this fine state as he somehow made hundreds of votes appear after the election that weren't there upon the November 3rd count. I shall restate that I don't think that there was some conspiracy, but I will say that the noble thought of an election recount is forever tarnished after having seen the unbelievable amount of subjectivity that has entered the picture and ultimately reshaped the election.