Monday, November 07, 2005

No purple fingers in Seattle

Iraq just had its second successful election in the last year, proving that democracy really can exist despite the "quagmire" our leaders claim we are in.

It seems an interesting comparison to our own election woes. Lest anyone forget, we had the presidential election fiasco in Florida in 2000, where the race was so close several recounts still cannot definitively say who won. Sure Bush was given the office, but the closeness will always leave doubt for his haters. Bush was selected, not elected, a local radio host loves to parrot. Looking at that election, the problems were actually obvious, the double standards blatant, and the hypocrisy, on both sides, unmistakable.

Move to 2004, and the fiasco attempted to move to Ohio, where this time accusations were made, but the facts (and totals) did not support them, and Bush was the clear winner. But the ghost of the fiasco remained and the curse lived on in the Governor's contest in Washington state. By the time it was over, there had been two recounts, and the winner was finally selected by less the 150 votes.

In Florida the issue was faulty tabulation equipment, confusing ballots, inconsistent counting standards, and a few unsubstantiated accusations of intimidation.

In Washington, King County to be precise, the issues were several thousand illegal votes, along with faulty tabulations and rules inconsistently applied concerning provisional ballots and mail in ballots. The totals between the ballots cast and the ballots counted remain miles apart despite the County's attempts to justify and reconcile. The legal challenge admitted that thousands of votes were illegal, but the problem was proving 'who' the votes were for, which was impossible, so even after acknowledging thousands of illegal votes, the results ultimately stood. Once again the results were upheld by a court, but remain in doubt.

The fallout of this was severe voter dissatisfaction, which the legislature attempted to address with election reform that contained a mixed bag of effective and meaningless provisions. But the message from the public to King County was fairly clear: Fix it!!

And so now a year later, we have completed a primary election, and stand ready for the general election, and already the accusations of illegal votes have come in, and in droves. The Republicans, the technical loser in the 2004 fiasco (the people were the ultimate losers) have begun a drive to clean up the voter registration base. This has met with howls of outrage, mostly from the people accused, but naturally from the Democratic Party. There are however many obvious felonious votes, so while the issue may seem partisan, I believe there is a very corrupt database that needs to be fixed.

And I truly don't understand the outrage. It serves all of us to be honest and accurate. Why the protests? If the people are legit they will not have to worry.

But the bottom line of this is that voter confidence is absolute crap in Washington State, particularly in King County, and most of the measures to address it are more "feel good" then effective.

The lesson should have been clear, fix the problems and restore faith in the system. Instead it reeks of institutional coverup and malfeasance.

So it seems ironic to me that with millions spent on computers and safeguards, we cannot have a decent solid election in a peaceful urban city, but a 3rd world country, in war conditions, can do so with manually filled out and counted ballots and a purple inkpot to prevent double voters.

Maybe the US should invade King County.

So Tuesday, I will go to my poll, and vote and hope to hell my vote is actually (and accurately) counted, and my voice is heard. I have to really, to do nothing, even in the face of such institutional stupidity as King County is mired in, is just something I cannot bear.

And after I am done I will offer my salute to King County, a visual testament to my participation in the franchise that my forefathers died to protect for me, that people presently die in Iraq to obtain and that King County for all its money and stated good intentions cannot assure me of.

I will raise a finger just like the Iraqis, though mine of course will not be purple.

*Which* finger I raise however...that remains to be seen.