Canadian question about voting in the States

I am very confused about what is going on with the whole Presidential election debacle.

My most basic understanding of the democratic process is as follows; 1 person=1 vote.
How can it be legal for Dubya to request that votes cast by eligible citizens not be counted? It sounds like an utter travesty to just omit hundreds of ballots cast by individuals. I understand that there have been complications, but how is it possible to say; “Oh, there has been a problem, let’s just ignore these piles and piles of ballots that were cast” and get away with it?
It sounds like an affront to democracy. Why can’t people just get it through their heads that each and every legitimate ballot matters, and must be counted?

Thank god us Canucks rely on manpower to count our ballots and not sophistimicated doowhackeys.

Personally I think the idea of using paper ballots with fuzzy analog margins of error was the dumb bit.
People have to do their voting at the polling station, why not have a fully automated system. Heck you could have the polling both both print on a screen and read back into headphones your choices before you hit submit.

As for absentee votes, use online voting with 1024 bit encryption and the same levels of identification they provided to give them absentee voting rights in the first place.
Not that I like absentee votes - it seems like there’d be too much potential for undue pressure. But the same will be there in either computerized or paper, and at least the margin of error drops like a rock.

The notion that the ballots haven’t been counted is a slight mis-statement. (Republicans would say a “lie”.) The ballots passed through the counting machine without registering a vote for the presidential race. They were counted, they just didn’t have a valid vote. Sometimes that was because someone voted for two different candidates for president, or because the voted for none at all.

The ones that VP Gore is trying to get “counted” are the ones that, upon examination by a human, rather than a machine, can be seen to indicate, somehow, the “intent” of the voter. Sometimes, and correctly, IMHO, this is seen because the chad was punched but didn’t fall off – the infamous “hanging chad”. In those cases the hand recount has some merit. The big gripe is with the “dimpled” or “pregnant” chads. These are much more subjective and do not, again IMHO, clearly indicate the voter’s intent. Part of the brouhaha about Palm Beach County was that they changed the standard from one counting merely hanging chads to one including dimpled chads. This is widely seen as an attempt to skew the vote.

Another big gripe (and one that I personally consider to be a major issue) is that the Gore camp is attempting to change the rules while the game is being played. There are laws and rules in place governing how votes are counted. Among those rules are standards that say that if the ballot is filled out incorrectly, then it’s invalid. Yeah, that means that someone somewhere gets disenfranchised, but those are the breaks. Everybody knew that this was the case before the election, and everyone agreed to it. It’s not fair to allow Gore to change the rules to benefit him. Plus, consider this: do you want the president to be chosen by rules put in place by an elected legislature, or by rules put in place by a group of judges with life tenure who don’t have to answer to anybody?

IMO, I think that machine counts are more accurate and objective than any human count. The machines didn’t vote, aren’t influenced by bias, and don’t care who wins the election. I’d like to see all voting done with the electronic touchpads used in my precinct. They’re easy to use, it’s very obvious which choice you’ve selected, and you can go back and change your selection right up until you hit the “Submit” button.

Exactly. That’s the problem. If you’re going to use paper ballots which have a margin of error in how much they can be filled out, then use an analog machine (a human) which can determine this intent.

If you’re going to use a digital machine to count the votes though, then you need to also use a digital machine for registering the votes.

This voter disenfranchisement was not invitable, it’s the sign of a badly designed system. And the places where the machines broke down the most were in poor places. That’s discrimination.
Cheap purely digital machines should be installed in all counties, and federal money allocated for their maintenance to ensure that all counties were maintained at the same level. Although less is likely to go wrong with a decent mass produced board (and usually in manufacturing )then with a paper vote counter.

There are two or three counties here in MS that still use that ancient system of punch cards (haven’t seen them in Jackson since the early 70’s). We haven’t had any problems there in years.
I suspect it’s more likely the democrats trying to “find” as many votes as possible and cook the results their way. Either that of Floridians are really that stupid.

Either way, we are entering the age or Rule by Trial Lawyer.

Sweet_Lotus You are correct, the Bush position is an affront to democracy.
The claim that all votes were “counted” is based on the curious notion that counting ballots is the same as counting votes. With this sort of reasoning, I’m not sure why they bothered to even check for holes on any but the first few punchcards; probably just did it because it was one of those “bells and whistles” the manufacturers put on the ballot counting machines.
Of course with humans looking at ballots to determine if a vote was cast, you get the potential for error, which for some reason the republicans seem to think will systematically and unfairly favor Gore. They’ve yet to provide a mechanism for this bias other than to impugn the integrity of everyone involved in handling ballots.

Without getting into voting procedures that might serve to reduce errors in the voting process (this has been done to death in GD anyway), the basic complaint Bush has is that there wasn’t sufficient cause to issue a manual recount of the ballots and that proper procedures were not followed during this recount. This, he argues, makes the results of the recounts invalid, and so the initial vote count should stand.

As Pluto pointed out, it’s not that the system was trying to disenfranchise voters; it’s that some voters cast their vote improperly, invalidating their vote. Whereas in the original tally the votes were simply counted by machine, in manual recounts, Florida law states that the voting officials must not only tally the votes but in cases where a vote was cast improperly or ambigously, the officials must make a determination of voter intent as well. It is this determination of intent that Gore is hoping to capitalize upon in order to secure enough votes.

Well, to be fair, Gore has gone out of his way to disenfranchise the military vote as well, and most people would probably say that they have earned a vote more.

Incidentally, I hope that Gore somehow pulls it out…that way, people will get a leader with no morals and scruples, and with a different Senate to (supposedly) balance out the power…means nothing will get done in Washington, and that is certainly a good thing! Once people realize just how damn corrupt the whole system is and people start to stand against it and fight (well, hopefully not literally…not yet time for that!), maybe freedom will finally have a shot in this country!!!

Oh great, another Canadian to tell us how bad our country is.

Here’s the deal. 1 person = 1 vote is valid in all but Presidential elections. Those are deided in the Electoral College. Study your International history before pledging yourself to England and you might understand that.

When our Constitution was written, it was understood that the lower populated states needed to have a say in who would govern them. Thus, the system allows one vote for each Senator (2 each) and each Representative. Thus, in our current system, North Dakota (where I live now) has 3, while Wisconsin (Where I grew up) has 11.

In this system, my vote (if I’m in the majority) is worth just over 25% of a Wisconsin voter. Is this fair? Yes. Because the difference is made up in population of the state.

Now we get to the crux. I don’t know if my vote was counted. Maybe something happened where my ballot was cast aside like the other millions that are every election.

If Gore really wants every vote counted, he should have lobbied to have the suits in Martin and Seminole counties repealed, as well as called for recounts in every county in the US.

You must realize this is a megalomaniac who declared himself in Newsweek last year as “destined to be President”. An honest look at all laws in the state, Constitution as well as the opinion of the US Supreme Court gives the victory to Bush. Whether you agree or not, it will happen because that is the law.

I live in Houston TX which includes some very rich areas and poor areas. The punch cards were used here. You don’t see either side asking for non-votes to be counted here. Neither side cares about those votes.

The Florida issue is not about counting votes, but rather manipulating the election by using ballots that are ignored in the rest of the US to force the election to Gore’s side.

Keep in mind that it is Gore’s side who tried to reject thousands of votes because the application for a ballot was not filled out correctly. This is just the application, not the ballot. Those voters got the ballot and cast votes. Their ballots were filled out correctly. The Gore “count all vote” side decided that all ballots should be rejected because the application, not the ballot, was filled out incorrectly.

One thing I forgot to mention.

I heard how Dade county was too poor to afford anything but punch-cards as opposed to optical scanners like we have in little ole Grand Forks, ND. Are we really more sophisticated than those in Miami? I thought so. (btw, wind chill at 3:21 CST is -55. Any Northeastern liberals want to bitch about heating prices?)

Two people have brought up as counter examples places where the vote was not close, or didn’t matter.
(although remember, New Mexico doesn’t matter, but Republicans are still pushing for a recount since it was close)
The whole point is that you probably still have about the same number of votes being miscounted, just that it is not a significant number. If the whole system was digital, there would be no controversy when the vote is insanely close as it is in Florida.
I consider people who claim it is a case of Bush won, Gore is just trying to count until he wins to be engaging in innumeracy.
160 or so out of 5 MILLION??
That’s 0.0032%!
Against margins of error several orders of magnitude larger, it simply doesn’t exist.
I wasn’t arguing for continuous recounts, since as far as I’m concerned it’ll probably just keep flipping the coin, with about equal probability of either winning.
I think that the vote should either be divided up between the two, or Florida invalidated, and an attempt made that in four years a modern voting system be in place.

This is a classic misrepresentation of the law of the State of Florida. Florida’s statutes, in place prior to Nov. 7, provide that any ballot that has a ‘clear indication of the intent of the voter’ shall be counted. See Florida Statutes §101.5614(5). So, Mr. Gore was not asking for a change of the rules, he was, instead, asking for an application of the rules as they existed prior to the election.

The trouble with the standard in Florida, which is virtually identical to the standard in Texas, is that it allows subjective interpretation of what is ‘clear indication’ of a vote. It is this difficulty that has the current interest of the Supreme Court of the United States. But make no mistake, there was no attempt to ‘change the rules’ midstream.

wastelands, your stupid Canada bashing act should be taken elsewhere. The OP wasn’t intended as a criticism of America, it was intended as a criticism of the position of Governor Bush, and duplicates arguements being made by many an American. One person DOES equal one vote, at least as far as selecting a state’s electors goes; there is nothing in the OP to suggest that the poster is advocating a national popular vote for President.

I might also point out that subsequent to our own election, which even the most die-hard American would have to admit has been a total disaster when it comes to the simple task of counting ‘votes’, the Canadians elected their federal government. They managed to count 4 million votes in under four hours, using nothing more sophisticated than checking a box and counting it by hand. If I were Canadian, I might feel justified being a bit smug about it all…

Just a note to Americans about Canadians asking you questions about whats going on in America. (from a Canadian) We know as much as you do about whats going on in the national affairs of your country. We all get CNN,Fox,ABC,NBC,CBS,PBS, everything you get plus our own networks.We all know how little you know about us, and amuse ourselves with your assumption that you need to explain to us the details of whats going on down there.

However, as far as I’m concerned, you guys got caught with your pants down in a very big way. Punch card voting seemed quite efficient at one time and any irregularities were an inconvenience that was easily dealt with. Now the stakes are really high, and within the margin of error for for punch card balloting in several counties of Florida lies the true answer as to who should be the next most powerful man in the world !!!

We seem to hear several common mantras repeated by both sides depending on which situation is involved. Every vote must count. For the democrats that means ballots that are not machine readable and for the republicans,that means overseas military ballots that were rejected on technicalities. The rule of law must be followed. For the democrats that means technical violations must render ballots invalid and for the republicans, that means cut off dates must at all costs be observed.

To me,its quite clear that a non partisan approach to solving your problem is impossible. Even the supreme courts are split. Heh, wish ya’ll the best of luck.

minor correction - DSYoungEsq, there were a few more than 4 million votes cast in the recent Canadian federal election. Elections Canada’s preliminary figure is that there were 12,813,647 votes cast: Popular Vote.

Yes jti, but we certainly didn’t count 12,000,000 in four hours. I,m wondering where the 4,000,000 in four hours figure comes from, which does seem reasonable.

Sigh… Great Debates.

I wasn’t trying to bash Canada. What I’m tired of is how other countries are starting to view us. I mean, Castro offered to send people to oversee the counting for Christ’s sake.

The main point I was trying to make (though maybe had too much beer in the ole system to do so) was that in every election there are votes not counted. The solution is to have every county make sure they have the best voting apparatus available.

Last, the law does allow for a hand recount. However, the argument is what is a true vote. To take any nick or mark on a ballot and equate it to “intent” is to stray from established norms. It’s equivalent to mind-reading. Maybe we should have Dionne Warwick in the counting rooms?