Wednesday, November 03, 2004

There's a big fuss over provisional ballots in Ohio. Don't know how that's going to work out over there, but here in Bellefonte, I have to say that it didn't look like a big partisan issue. We had less than a dozen provisional ballots in a ward with over nine hundred votes. More than half of those provisionals were due to a precinct-line dispute between the inhabitants of West 5th Avenue, on the northern edge of Bellefonte Borough, and the county. It seems that the borough border runs down the middle of West 5th Avenue, such that the north side is Spring Township, and the south side is the borough. When they reapportioned the precincts, they placed the whole of West 5th Avenue in Spring Township, such that those voters, who have been in the borough forever, and who pay borough taxes, now find themselves in the township instead. A number refused to go vote at the township building, and cast provisionals in Bellefonte West.

This year, I can't see how it matters, as there were no local offices up for election. (Didn't stop one fool from writing in a candidate for a council office which wasn't up for election, though. More on why write-ins suck later.) Next year, when these voters are deprived of the chance to vote for (or against) the people who are directly responsible for their local income taxes and setting their property taxes, I can definitely see where they'll have a serious beef.

But, as I said, more than half of our provisionals had nothing to do with party politics, and everything to do with a precinct border dispute. The one real "political" provisional was some woman who kept going on about how she had been somebody in the Clinton administration, and yadda yadda yadda.

Oh, yeah - write-ins. People, don't do write-ins. Please. For the sake of the poor little old ladies who have to stay up past midnight slaving over punch-cards on election night, if nothing else. The procedure for dealing with write-ins in a proper fashion is long, elaborate, redundant, and painful. A good 75% of the write-ins were absolute lunatic gibberish, so they didn't count for anything, even in a theoretical sense. Because the courts struck Nader off the ballot, we did have Nader write-ins. Two of them, out of more than nine hundred. The rest of the write-ins were gibberish, as people tried to vote a state representative candidate into the US representative seat, or attempted to vote for three state representative districts simultaneously, or vote for seats which weren't up for election. Happily, no-one tried to vote for Mickey Mouse for President, or Son Gokuu for Auditor General, or any other deep silliness. But the point remains: write-ins exist for one main reason - to keep cranks happy. Don't be a crank. Mad, scraggly and incoherent is no way to go through life.

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