With some of the post-election passions running at least a bit lower now, and with the press consortium busy recounting ballots, I’d like to propose the following:
RESOLVED, that “intent of the voter,” is a ridiculous standard.
Literacy tests evoke an instant repugnance, because they were used in an effort to weaken the effect of black voters, not in a genuine attempt to ensure voter literacy. Nor do I now suggest we should return to the days of literacy tests.
But I do suggest that voters should be able to follow simple instructions, and that if they cannot, that’s sufficient reason to not count their vote. As I read descriptions of the mistakes made even in the optical ballot counties - filling in an oval and writing in the candidate’s name, as well as filling in the oval indicating a write-in… I find myself growing more and more unsympathetic. When the crisis was in full bloom, I was moved by posts here about how confusing and prone to error the punch ballots were. But in a calmer, more reflective mood, I am leaning more and more towards:
- A national standard for ballots
- Pre-election publicity that clearly and unambiguously shows how to fill out your ballot
With these in place, I would favor abandoning any “intent of the voter” standard in favor of a bright-line test: if the ballot is filled out correctly, the vote counts. If it isn’t, you’re too stupid to be permitted to vote.