The worst thing about the 2004 election – ahem, other than the fact that we re-elected a mean-spirted, ineffectal, jackass as our President – is that IT JUST WON’T END. This past week, the media has teemed with stories about protesting votes, recounting votes, and conceding elections, on a national and, for me, local level.
With our country so evenly polarized, I’ve found myself wondering: When is enough, enough? And more importantly: how do we fight for change when we know enough isn’t enough?
As many of you know, my home state of Washington has been involved in a gubernatorial race snafu between Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi that makes the 2000 presidential election look like a landslide.
After the first two counts, Rossi was winning by 42 votes. The Republicans proclaimed, “Let’s not waste any more money or time, you crybaby Democrats! We have our governor!!” The Democrats cried, “But we must make sure every vote is counted, you unfair Republicans! Recount! Hand recount!” Predictable.
To the Democrats credit, through grass roots fund-raising efforts they raised the $750,000 it cost to hand-recount the votes. And the third time was a charm. Gregorie won by a whopping 129 votes, with over 2.8 million votes counted. It appeared that Washington State finally had a governor.
Except, of course, that the losing side isn’t willing to concede. State Republicans have launched a “ReVote” campaign, urging tabula rasa: a complete re-vote, a new election. Rossi filed suit for a re-vote, claiming that, “errors, negligence and misconduct have made it impossible to know who really won the closest governor’s race in U.S. history.” In response, Christine ‘count every vote’ Gregoire called the idea “ludicrous,” and I’ve received plenty the email from my liberal-leaning friends and mailing lists, urging me to call the state capitol to dissuade the powers-that-be from a re-vote.
So let’s recap. The Republicans – who morally objected to the costs of a recount – now want to launch a full-on re-vote. And Democrats – who urged us to be fair and ensure every vote was counted – now want the process to stop. Politics aside, it’s the losing side who wants to try again, by any means necessary, including self-contradiction. Again I say, predictable. And then I sigh. *Sigh*
The hypocrisy from both sides that has me in a bit of a tizz, and the lack of objectivity (on both a state and national level) has me incensed.
First of all, when it comes to re-counting: shouldn’t each voter know where s/he stands, regardless of political affiliation? I, for one, favor them. When in doubt about the count, then hell yes: recount! I felt that way in Florida in 2000, I felt that way in Ohio in 2004, and I feel that way now in Washington State. We’ve recounted three times, and we’re still so close, with so many questions, that in theory, a re-vote seems like a logical idea. I feel this way irrespective of which candidate is winning. It’s a question of morality, not partisanship. I wish more people on both sides of the blue/red divide felt the same way. I like consistency. What can I say? I’m predictable too.
But here’s where I find fault with the re-vote plan. The voting system in the U.S. is too fucked up too warrant the expense of a re-vote. What the hell is wrong with us? We’re supposed to be the innovators, the inventers, the doers, the technologically-enabled, and the efficient. Yes yes? Yet we Americans have no confidence when we vote for our leaders that 1) our vote has accurately been tallied and 2) there’s any accountability for said vote. We bank every day, knowing our banks can tally our pennies to the last cent, and can provide records of our transactions. Yet we can’t trust our votes.
So why bother with a revote? Why would we trust the results any better the second time around, if we haven’t fixed the system?
If the debacle of the double George W. elections has taught us nothing, it has taught us that the single most important issue jeopardizing our Democracy is our voting process. Well, that and our completely biased corporate media warping public perception. But I digress.
The brief but relevant Democratic protest of the re-inauguration of George W this week was one positive step towards protesting the current abominable state of our voting system. But was it effectual? Eh, I don’t think so. As it stands now, we lack an objective voting system, and we sold our voting machines to a company that created non-accountable voting machines and avowed a Bush win. Our media didn’t report about it, our government officials aren’t addressing the problem, and barring drastic action, nothing will be changed for the next time. In other words: they got away with it.
What I want to know now, on the cusp of an inauguration that’s going to positively wreck me, is: what else can we do about it? With our increasingly divided country, we can likely look forward to years of down-to-the-wire voting, like the Gregoire/Rossi race in Washington and both bogus Bush elections. This makes the need for reliable voting methods even more critical. It’s frustrating to see the faults in our system so clearly, but to feel powerless to fix them.
No amount of recounts or re-votes will solve the election outcome until we fix the voting process. My pressing question is: How? Thoughts, anyone?