Keeping Score and Counting Votes

Once upon a time I believed that there was NO WAY an election could be “fixed” in the USA.   As a student of Latin American Studies I understand that “those other countries” were crooked, and thus their elections could be rigged.  When a computer accidentally shuts down for four days in, say, Mexico…just sayin’… and during the shut-down the candidate who was losing the election miraculously pulls ahead….   WELL, everybody knew that was fraudulent…but when it comes to those other countries—well DUH!!!   But here at home?  Where our electoral system is honest as the day is long and absolutely without loop-holes that could “steal” an election. … in Ohio, or Florida?  Of course not.

Ah, everybody knows how THAT all played out.   No sense in going over it again, as the voters just don’t care.  They don’t want to hear about it.  Well, let me qualify that, of course “everybody” is a misnomer, because usually it’s about half and half….the red team and the blue team, them and us,  the Butterflies vs the Spiders.    Actually, in the USA we call them “Democrats and Republicans.”   They miraculously are just about halfies when it comes to voting for President…but the “lesser” elections do vary and there is a lot of “crossing the line.”

A case in point is the recent Brexit fiasco in the United Kingdom.   I still don’t know exactly what that means, and although I consider myself fairly well versed when it comes to world affairs (some more than others) and although I did know the UK was voting to leave the EU, European Union, it wasn’t a top priority issue for me.    (Who ever seriously considered the “leavers” would prevail over the “remainers”?)   Please allow me to clarify…when I say I didn’t know what Brexit means, I meant the translation…etymology, perhaps.  I do understand the basic facts and the consequences—vaguely,  I am not an expert on that subject.)

Anyway, here’s the thing…I  am bothered by the vote tally… 52% to Exit the EU—48% to Remain.   I realize we are talking percentages here, and not actual votes.   IF however there really were (say in a very small town)  52 voters who said “Yes” and 48 voters who said “No” on a given issue…  I suppose my logic may be twisted…but if that were the case, it means that if TWO voters had voted differently, the issue would be reversed and it would have passed.

I once won a primary election vote for council-at-large…. by a handful of votes  (six I think,) and there was an automatic recount.   I was still ahead after the recount, but I lost in the general election in November.    The point here being that had my opponent garnered FOUR more votes than she did, the results would have been reversed, assuming that the same number of voters had NOT voted for me in the first place. .

By coincidence the split in the United States when there is a national vote, tends to run about the same with roughly 50-50 for each side of a given matter.  Then our insane system of electoral votes is very often off-skew and the candidate with the most (popular vote) votes can (and has) lost to the electoral vote.

Then it comes to the vote-counters.  Now it’s all computerized…done in little table-like booths.    Then poll workers presumably are instantly given the results to share with the voters.  It isn’t that simple, of course, but since I don’t know much about the system nowadays I refrain from elaborating.

However, I did get to work the polling booths once about thirty years ago, and I say “get to” because it was something of a privilege to get the job, which actually paid about fifty dollars for the 12-hour day.  (Hey…those folks EARN every penny of what they get paid!)   In those days the voting was done in an actual machine with an actual cloth curtain that opened and closed with a hand lever.   The voter would pass through the line, sign in at the workers’ table, and declare their party or verify their address, then they would wait in the line for their ward and precinct, then when the curtain opened with a swoosh (I don’t know if there was actually a swoosh, but it sounds good) and the former voter would exit.  Then once the lever was pulled to close the curtain, the voter cast votes on the machine.

What happened then was the remarkable thing.   After the polls closed, the poll workers would dismantle the voting machine, and the votes were tallied.  THEN the results were written on paper…in a grid, with a magic marker, for each candidate or issue that was voted on.  THEN poll workers would go out to designated sites around the city, in each precinct, and post the paper vote results.    At which points party faithful from various campaigns would gather the information and take it back to campaign headquarters.

Thus is my version of what happened on Election Nights….back in the day… 1970s.   Actually  then I was a newspaper reporter, not a candidate for any political office.   Some years I had to work in the newsroom, but when it was a running around covering various campaigns it was fun.      The Rs had their celebrations in country clubs and other fancy places, the Ds in the local Moose Hall (etc.)  Champagne or Beer parties.   … just sayin’



7 thoughts on “Keeping Score and Counting Votes

      1. It seems to us this side of the pond that the US certainly could do with his help! What a dishonourable, disgraceful way to conduct an election. We can’t understand here how a man like Trump, with no experience whatsoever of politics, could have possibly made it this far. How come he was even nominated? Extraordinary. Not that our lot are angels either, by any means!


      2. Good question. Trump is a perfect example of how a perfect boor can appeal to the basest level of population in their prejudices and general refusal to think before following blindly. It is sad to believe that our own “feedoms” tend to come up and bite us when we aren’t paying attention. Also I suspect that our old friend The Bear over there in his den is seizing upon the perfect opportunity to do us in.

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