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Thursday, December 11, 2008

(Updated) Decision Tomorrow in MN on Rejected Absentee Ballots

Update: On 12/12/08, the Minnesota Canvassing Board recommended that county election boards sort and count rejected absentee ballots to find those improperly set aside. However, the Board cannot require that the counties do so. In another decision, the Board agreed to use election night results in a precinct where 113 ballots later went missing. Both decisions are expected to benefit Franken in the vote count.
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The never-ending recount in the Minnesota Senate race between Repub Norm Coleman and Dem Al Franken will have at least one thing decided tomorrow. That's when the state canvassing board meets to decide the fate of hundreds of improperly rejected absentee ballots, as well as 133 "missing" ballots in a Minneapolis precinct. The video above features the reactions of some of the voters whose absentee ballots were rejected even though there was nothing legally wrong with them. This in a race so close that a mere couple dozen votes could decide it.

The canvassing board will meet again on December 16th to begin reviewing thousands of ballots challenged by the two campaigns.

It's still difficult for me to believe that this level of idiocy occurs in the 21st century in a nation that likes to see itself as THE super power -- technologically and otherwise -- and THE standard bearer in the world for democratic principles. Isn't it long past the time for our elections processes to be governed by clearly defined rules and standards applied by well-trained, well-paid election officials working within adequately funded departments overseen by impartial professionals who know what the hell they are doing?

I won't even get into the still serious problems with electronic voting equipment. What I'm talking about is having votes counted according to well-accepted, common sense policies and procedures -- the kind that once governed most clerical operations before the advent of computers. It's not rocket science. It has to do with the simple act of counting every vote that meets a clearly defined minimum requirement for validity. Why is there any doubt about which ballots should count and which ones shouldn't?

Unfortunately, some election personnel and canvassing boards seem to operate without accountability or transparency -- according to rules they make up as they go along. Authority lines and responsibilities are blurred. Spur of the moment decisions can affect the outcome. Why is that tolerated? Every close election seems to be plagued by similar snafus, yet nothing much seems to change in many states. It's like a bad dream that repeats and repeats without resolve. Will the Coleman-Franken fiasco prompt more much-needed reforms in how elections are conducted? Don't hold your breath.

December 11, 2008 at 06:24 PM in 2008 General Election Voting, Election Reform & Voting | Permalink

Comments

Isn't it long past the time for our elections processes to be governed by clearly defined rules and standards applied by well-trained, well-paid election officials working within adequately funded departments overseen by impartial professionals who know what the hell they are doing?
Hell yes!

Posted by: Proud Democrat | Dec 11, 2008 9:12:54 PM

Unfortunately, the lack of consistent standards is one of the consequences of those "states rights" policies. Every state has its own procedures. Obviously Minnesota does not have a law that mandates an automatic runoff in close races. Please keep us posted, I bet their legislature comes up with some attempts to improve the process in their next session.

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Dec 11, 2008 10:18:17 PM

Unfortunately this is one of the consequences of those "states rights" policies. I'll bet there will be several bills introduced in the next session of the Minnesota legislature to try to improve their procedures.

I tried the absentee mail-in ballot here in New Mexico for the 2008 general election. It is not an easy process. I think a first-time voter would find it pretty difficult.

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Dec 11, 2008 10:26:13 PM

Did you know that Minnesota doesn't have any early voting? Also, you have to have a stated reason for voting absentee. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/09/25/absentee_voting/

You would think a progressive state like Minnesota would have fixed this by now. Oh yeah, their choices for the last few Governors tell a story. Did you hear the current (Rep.) Gov. Pawlenty gloating about Norm Coleman winning a few days ago?

Posted by: Michelle Meaders | Dec 12, 2008 9:53:50 AM