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Too close to call

Sun, Nov 19th, 2000
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By Amy HazelNovember 20, 2000

I'm sure everyone is very sick of hearing about the election and its problems. But this is an issue that needs to be discussed. After all, we are one of the few and very lucky nations on the face of this earth that allows each and every citizen over the age of eighteen to cast a vote to decide our future. The people hold the power. The individuals of the country should be the ones concerned about the election because this is our primary method of decision making.

A nationwide election was held on Tuesday, November 7th. This is a time when families can sit down and watch the country unfold into a color coordinating map of the United States that depicts which candidate won each state. Then the analysts give their opinions and predictions on why things happened the way they did. So many Moms and Dads gather their kids and sit down with a bowl of popcorn and a can of Pepsi for some real family entertainment.

First George W. Bush pushed ahead last Tuesday, easily winning the Southeast states (minus Florida) and a few states in the Midwest, which were early pick-ups. Then Al Gore came back and clobbered him with the Northeast states, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and eventually California.

Florida was also a quick win for Gore. However, the analysts soon took it back, deciding the race was too close to call. Soon some of the networks began awarding Florida to Bush. Everything went pretty smoothly until an hour or two past midnight. Then the networks decided to take Florida back from Bush because it was too close to call. Well, come on; can they make up their minds?

Here we are almost two weeks later, and the tabulating committee still hasn't completed the counting process. This whole issue developed out of Florida's fluctuating vote numbers. Their constitution reads that when an election is within one half of one percent, there shall be an automatic recount, which was the case in this extremely tight election. The recount yielded several hundred more votes for Gore than Bush, however. This normally wouldn't have drawn attention, but the fact that the two candidates were only a couple hundred votes apart in a state with several million voters, caused many people to speculate.

On top of this, a couple of other complications have been added to the mixing pot.

One is called a butterfly ballot. Voters are required to punch a hole in the center alongside the candidates' name that they wish to vote for. It is really a question as to why these ballots were used to begin with, since they are illegal. Florida law states that the method of marking must be on the right side of the candidate's name.

Issue number two: who will (versus who should) be elected president? Well that's a dumb question! It's the one who gets the most votes! Wrong answer. The United States has a system called the Electoral College. Each state is assigned a certain number of votes based on its population. The people in each state vote as to which candidate they wish to elect. The prevailing side is awarded all of the electoral votes of that state. So most of those Midwest and Rocky Mountain States were awarded to Bush, while Gore received all fifty-four of California's votes. The President is elected based upon these votes as each of the electors casts them. Most states do not, however, have a law that says electors have to vote according to their state's popular vote.

These voting methods do not always coincide. It is very easy, especially in this election, for one candidate to receive more votes from the Electoral College while the other candidate wins the majority of the popular vote.

My point in going through the ridiculous charade of the voting process is that there is a problem! A person would think that living in the advanced society that we do would eliminate stupid problems like the ones this election created.

My opinion: ballots with punches should be outlawed in every state. Punching holes is too complicated for many, and the punches often don't work properly. A classic example of a malfunction is when the punch is hanging by just a small little thread. That is why so many more ballots were included in the manual count. Filling in the ovals with a pencil is more efficient and produces better results than any kind of punch.

Should we do away with the Electoral College? After all, a vote is a vote. It doesn't matter if it came from Delaware, Mississippi, California, or Minnesota. Wrong again! Although this seems logical, the Electoral College is the only way of insuring that the small states are heard. If we took away this method, states with high populations, like California, New York, and Florida, would run the country.

So what is the answer to America's election problems? Right now, it's too close to call.

-Amy Hazel

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