Friday, December 26, 2008

That's what Spot thinks, too

The editorial writers at the New York Times have a blog, and here's what they said about the Minnesota recount a few days ago:

It’s too early to say whether Mr. Franken or incumbent Senator Norm Coleman will win, but one thing is becoming clear. Minnesota is pretty good at running elections. [italics are Spot's]

The post continues:

The most important thing about this recount is that all votes in Minnesota are cast on paper — mainly on optical scan forms, that get read by computer. That means that when the votes have to be recounted, there are paper ballots that can be inspected. In states that have paperless electronic voting, this cannot be done.

The state Canvassing Board also seems — at least on the information that has emerged so far — to be performing its duties responsibly, and trying its best to figure out the intent of the voters.

Spot watched some of the Canvassing Board proceedings and was impressed by the diligence and the uniformity the Board's approach to each of the ballots.

But that surely is not the impression you would get if you read the right wing blogosphere. John Lott, already a winger favorite because of his defense of pacifiers with triggers, seems especially inflamed. At the link, boys and girls, you will find a long screed about what an "x" means, and he shows some ballots with the circle filled in for Norm Coleman and then an "x" crossed through it. These are clearly Coleman ballots, says Lott, even though because of Canvassing Board mischief, they are found to be votes for no one.

But in an article that Spot cannot find at the moment, the logic of dealing with the "x" was described by Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, a member of the Canvassing Board, and a Pawlenty appointee: when an "x" is put through a darkened circle in just the Senate race, it is considered as a "no, I changed my mind" indication; if the "x" is found across the ballot, it is considered a vote for a candidate. The voter appears to have marked candidates for a later return to the task - arduous for some - of filling in the circles.

Spot supposes you can quarrel with the rule, but it is sensible and logical and comes closer to determining the intent of the voter than any other rule you might come up with. It is hardly "mischief."

Ironically, the Coleman camp, who has told Franken early and often to give it up, now believes that election contest litigation is inevitable:

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against Senator Norm Coleman’s effort to keep dozens of possible double votes from Democratic-heavy precincts out of the long-running Senate recount, but left the door open for a lawsuit. Lawyers for Mr. Coleman, a Republican, said the decision virtually guaranteed that the recount would end in litigation, delaying the seating of a Minnesota senator well past when the next Congress convenes.

Spot reiterates that Norm Coleman should just concede and let the healing begin.

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