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It’s a BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, feeling


Sun, Dec 10th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, December 4, 2000

Every once in a blue moon my computer will react strongly to some illegal operation I have performed and give me an output that reads: BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD. It’s a total unsettling feeling.

Unfortunately, it’s the same feeling I have about the recent presidential election. It’s not just an unpleasant feeling, but a BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD feeling.

It seems only right and just that the ultimate fight for the presidency should have ended up in the courts, the same venue where the business world fights its quarrels.

Nader was right. These were two corporations going after each other; the campaigns nothing more than Madison Avenue media blitzes. And in the end, both sides got out their slick hired guns to duel it out in front of the Supreme Court robes. Where else could this election have ended up but in the bloody courts?

Both parties accused the other of trying to steal the election. “They’re going to steal it. You wait and see,” one Republican friend told me. “Gore’s going to win it, yet.”

Conversely, a life-long Democrat I know, accused the Republicans of weaseling out the election. “What about the 19,000 screwed up ballots in West Palm Beach that they threw out?” he asked. “Bush never won Florida!”

Well, barring some last minute intervention from the election gods, it looks like George Bush, who seems to have failed to win a plurality of votes nationally, will be our president. The Saturday Night Live folks will have a field day.

Bush has Dick Cheney heading up his transition team. The future vice-president, who just days ago was hooked to heart monitors and other medical apparatus, looks as fit as a fiddle.

The joke making the rounds is that Cheney, the poster boy for the conservative cause, really went into the hospital for a heart transplant, but that they couldn’t find a “compassionate conservative” anywhere to act as a donor.

This election, with its third-world turmoil in determining a winner in Florida, has revealed the chaos that lays beneath the election process: faulty election machines, butterfly ballots, and pregnant, dimpled and assaulted chads.
If there is one certainty about this election, it is the fact that we are never going to get a 100% accurate count in Florida; we will never know if we really elected the right guy. It is also very clear that the American public wants some changes in our electoral process so that we never ever have to hear NBC’s Tim Russert talk about the recount of the recount ever again.

Here are some thoughts people have shared with me about the reforms they would consider making to our election process.
• All ballot stations would remain open in the United States until 12:00 a.m. California time at which time vote counting would commence in all states.
• Similarly, all absentee ballots nation-wide would have to be received by election day for tabulating.
• From the opening ballot in New Hampshire until the closing ballot in Oregon, there would be a news ban on the airing of polling and voting information.
• Do away with the electoral college. The notion that “every vote counts” is undermined by the electoral college and its winner take all approach. Secondly, the electoral college unfairly gives more weightedness to small states based on a one electoral college vote per capita basis.
• An alternative thought would be to do away with the winner-take-all method and make the electoral college proportional to voting district. In Minnesota for example, give one electoral vote for each of the eight Congressional Districts won, and two electoral votes to the candidate that wins a plurality.
• Instead of a popular ballot, with the candidate winning a plurality being named the winner, adopt a preference ballot approach. Under this method, each candidate has to be ranked by the voter in order of preference from first to last place. Tabulation of the rankings ensures that the winning candidate is preferred by a majority of voters.

Less than 40% of the voters supported Jesse Ventura in his bid for Minnesota’s governorship. Preferential balloting would have required that Ventura have significant support as a second preference in order to be elected. This method is being used with more frequency in various parts of the world.
• Come up with minimum federal election standards that states and counties must adhere to. The vote counting machines in question in Florida don’t even meet Fillmore County’s standards. According to auditor Angela Burrs, the county used chad counting machines in 1986 for one year and there were lots of problems.

“The state stopped using them the following year because there were so many problems,” Burrs told the Journal.

Maybe it’s time to make all the election players use the same deck of cards.

One final word on the 2000 presidential election. After looking at the two candidates and realizing that one of them is going to win, I can’t help but recall what a woman in Ireland told me: “You can't do much better than that Bill Clinton now, can you? She might be right.

Frankly, it’s a BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD feeling I’ve got about this election.

By John Torgrimson






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