On Tuesday morning I woke up and realized I'd forgotten to review my California voter's guide. See, one neat thing about California is you get these booklets in the mail when you register, and they contain statements from all those candidates you never pay attention to. So I sat down and read the statements for City Council, the local school board, and county propositions, donned my Green Party tee-shirt, and walked across the street to vote my conscience.
In the afternoon, Joe said he had been at the ice-cream shop, where the guy asked whom he had voted for. Joe decided not to vote Libertarian and back Ralph Nader this time. The ice cream guy said that of those he'd asked, the race was going three for Ralph, one for Browne, and one for Gore.
I take that as evidence that Mountain View is not that bad of a place to live.
And the afternoon turned in to evening, and the word was that Florida had been called for Gore! I could hardly believe it! I checked on the web and saw that Bush was ahead in the votes that had been counted. It was supposed to be close, and Bush is ahead, how can they ... Michigan and Pennsyvannia followed, and I was thinking that maybe Gore might just have won. But Bush is still winning in Florida ...
Eventually they think Florida is too close to call. It goes back to white. Around midnite, which is 3AM Eastern, Florida gets to 98% of precincts reporting - Gore is 20k votes behind, and then 50k. They call the election for Bush. George Bush will be our next president. Well well well, meanwhile, the lead goes back to 20k votes. Gore is about to give his concession speech. CNN's web site tells me the difference, with 99% of precincts reporting, is about twelve thousand. I hear a mention on NPR that, no big deal, but the AP says that the counting has suddenly gotten a lot closer. "We just want to alert you to the mathematical possibility." Well, I've been watching the Internet - I know there's a "mathematical possibility." And next we know the web site isn't giving us any updates, but there's talk on the airwaves of 900 and 66 vote differences. People in Austin are looking kind of ... confused and frustrated, when's the party?
And you know what? Everyone goes home and gets to bed. It is just too damn close to call.
The next day I see there is a re-count, and Wisconsin has just barely fallen to Gore. They're still counting in Oregon ...
You know, I'm a politics junky, right now Bush is unofficially up by 229 votes in Florida. I'm following the whole thing, and I have to admit that I do personally favor Al Gore, but I have to say that it is pretty clear that George Bush does not have a mandate to be President. Let me explain ...
First, there's the popular vote. It looks like Al Gore is going to win this, much to everyone's suprise. If more Americans want Gore to be their president, then that's the way it should be. I think this winner-take-all implementation of the electoral college is a bad joke - it's meant to keep out my third-party preference, but it also has denied the people's will before. If Gore does win the presidency, he has a very good reason to address this.
Then there's that funny "butterfly ballot" which I believe is a useability nightmare. I've dealt with some in Illinois and they sure are confusing the first time you encounter one. And the presidential campaign was the only one on that ballot to use that weird format ... choice two is really hole three? Huh!? I figure it is up to the Florida courts to decide - if the holes are supposed to be on the right and Al Gore is supposed to be the second choice presented ... but the democrats agreed to it. The courts can figure out what to do one way or another. I tend to figure that the butterfly ballot is not legal according to Florida law, but that's a problem for Florida to address.
Isn't it the voter's responsibility, if they are at all confused, or need any assistance, to ask for help and make sure that they aren't accidentally voting for an anti-semite? Screw-ups are ALWAYS going to happen! We need to take personal responsibility for registering our vote correctly. I do believe this. But I also feel somewhat ambivalent - a lot of these folks are senior citizens. Our elders have been voting their whole lives, and now they're getting old, they're feeling pains in weird places, taking medications, moving to Florida, the eyesight is not that great. Standing in line and then standing at the voting booth. I don't need your help, sonny, there's Al Gore right there and that's the hole I'm going to punch and then I'm going home to put my feet up.
But that's not Al Gore ... that's Pat Buchanan! I don't feel much sympathy for stupid people, but if our older citizens feel cheated because they get the wrong president because they were confused by an admittedly confusing ballot ... you're going to tell them to go to Hell?
Popular vote, funny ballots ...
4 January, 2001
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