Posted by: brian | November 21, 2008

How not to fill out a ballot

MPR has images of several challenged ballots in the recount of Minnesota’s US Senate race. It’s interesting to see how people fill out those things. Some are fairly clear, though it’s obvious that the challenges are almost entirely motivated by politics rather than a genuine interest in the integrity of the voting process. In the majority of the cases, voter intent is clear, but there is some trivial irregularity that causes the campaign of the candidate who didn’t get that vote to challenge the ballot. A perfect example is the case of Day 2, Ballot 2, where Franken’s circle is marked with a pencil rather than a pen. Did the voter intend to vote for Franken? Obviously. Coleman’s lackeys, though, assert that the use of pencil somehow invalidates the ballot. On the other side, the Franken campaign would love to see Day 1, Ballot 2 tossed out on the grounds that an ink smudge constitutes an intentional “identifying mark” and thus invalidates a vote for Coleman. On the other hand, other cases are less clear. Day 2, Ballot 3 presents a case where it looks like the voter put an “X” in the Coleman spot, then, realizing their error, filled in the circle. Franken’s stooges think the voter intended to undo the Coleman vote, but this seems pretty unlikely, given that they did not subsequently select a different candidate. It would also seem more effective to obliterate the candidates name, as is likely (in my opinion) in the case of Day 1, Ballot 11, where Franken’s observers contend that the voter was underlining their candidate’s name rather than crossing it out.

What I don’t understand is why, after botching the ballot, the voter didn’t ask for a replacement. I know that people generally don’t like to admit mistakes, but wouldn’t it be safer and better, in the end, to just shred the ballot and ask for a new one?

I think my favorite, though, is Day 1, Ballot 5, where the voter wrote in “Lizard People.” I can’t help but think that, somewhere in Beltrami County, someone is secretly (or not so secretly) either giggling about it (I know I would be) or feeling like a bit of a stooge.

That raises a larger question. I know that I wouldn’t necessarily recognize my ballot if its picture appeared, but I wonder what people whose ballots are showing up in public fora are thinking, if they recognize theirs?



  1. Seen this?

  2. Um, “this” up there is a link. It just doesn’t look like it….

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