Simple re-test would answer questions

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 11, 2006

To the Editor:

As is often the case after the election, we are hearing the usual calls for the community to move forward. Your Nov. 8 editorial (Let’s move forward together) is just one example.

I actually agree with several of the points that you raised in the editorial, particularly regarding voter turnout and voter education.

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In fact, I have often argued that if we had better voter education, not just on election day but throughout the year and especially in our school systems, then we would soon have better voter turnout.

That is a concrete challenge that we can tackle as we move forward.

But first, I have one humble suggestion.

Before we move forward, shouldn’t we first make sure that we’ve correctly finished the election?

Anyone who went to vote on Tuesday knows that there was a lot of talk about voting “straight ticket.” In fact, on the Democratic side alone, almost 5,800 voters voted the Democratic ticket. However, a large number of these voters, after voting straight ticket, also went down the ballot to mark specific candidates from another party. We know that such ballots were not rejected as “spoiled ballots,” but we don’t know whether the individual votes were actually counted by the voting machine.

Now, some people reading this will think that the possibility of such an error is too remote.

However, if nothing else, the past six years of voting should have taught us that stranger things have happened.

We all remember the 2000 presidential election in Florida, where technical difficulties caused thousands of votes to be lost.

And just four years ago in the governor’s election, many of us remember going to bed with one winner, only to awake to a different winner due to a “glitch” in the voting machine’s software.

Other people reading this will say that this is just “sour grapes” or a stubborn attempt by a losing candidate to drag out the process.

Some with this viewpoint will be people who honestly won’t see the point, while others will have a different agenda – namely, to blur the message while focusing on the messenger.

Hopefully, we will all be able to see that this is about more than just one or two candidates.

Moving forward without confidence in the count strengthens the thousands of residents who already feel that their votes don’t count.

In other words, moving forward could be a huge step backward.

Fortunately, there is a very simple solution.

All the Probate Judge needs to do is to test the machines with a sample ballot to ensure that the machines were programmed to properly count such a split-ticket.

This is not a complicated process, and by law such a test is supposed to be done on each machine three times: once before election day, once when each polling place opens, and once after each polling place closes.

Unfortunately, the pre-test process was incomplete, and it does not appear that each polling place did the appropriate test.

Nevertheless, we still have plenty of time to conduct the test before next week’s certification deadline.

Let’s just take a minute to make sure we got it right.

As you said in your editorial, “the people have spoken.”

The problem is we may not have accurately heard what they had to say.

I, for one, would like to be sure.

What about you?

Cliff Albright