Our new County Clerk has announced she is going to conduct an experiment in the next election. Our county uses machines to tabulate (count) the paper ballots. She has put out a call for volunteers to perform a hand count on all the ballots. She has calculated she needs 88 volunteers. That’s in addition to all the poll workers.
So, after the election is over, we will have two results: one done by the tabulation machines and the one done by hand.
She states the reason for such an experiment is to restore trust in elections. It will, she hopes, demonstrate that machine counted votes can be trusted.
I hope she is right. We need to trust our governance processes, and election trust is pretty basic.
So, let’s hypothesize.
Let’s say both results end up identical. What conclusion would you draw? Will your faith in elections be restored? Will you suddenly believe Joe Biden got more votes than Donald Trump?
What happens if the vote counts are different? Will your skepticism over fraudulent machines make you have more faith in the hand count? This would be contrary to all other evidence. Time and again machines have been shown to more accurately tabulate ballots than humans.
Maybe our new county clerk is trying to show elections can be trusted within her jurisdiction. She has never claimed our elections were corrupt. Election fraud must only happen elsewhere.
She did cite two examples of election fraud when prompted by the Idaho Republican Party in her campaign literature last year. Both examples were dismissed by judges when the Big Lie campaign disputed them.
So maybe we can’t trust the judiciary either. If our guy doesn’t win, then we should scream fraud.
As someone who has lost an election, I still believe in the voters. Lots of them didn’t vote for me. Lots did. In the only election I lost, I got more votes for me than I ever had in any previous election. But the other guy got more than I did. And he is now representing me. That’s the way our representative democracy works.
It’s not that my faith is blind. We had observers at the polls, and we had observers in the counting room. So did the other guy. It’s the law.
The fraud that I believe occurs is not at the courthouse when the votes are being counted. It happens at the polling booth when my neighbors don’t show up to vote. That negligence makes this process of representation weak.
Our founders sure didn’t think everybody should vote. Heck, the 1889 Idaho Constitution blocked Native Americans and Mormons from the polls.
Who gets to vote has long been used as a tool by the ruling class, or party, or race, or religion, or sex to maintain power. Long before voting machines were invented, those who understood power knew how to manipulate it.
Now days, those with the power to vote may not exercise it. City council elections, school board elections affect our local governance. If you want to fret about voter fraud, maybe you should have some faith in the hard-working folks who count those ballots or run them through the machines. And maybe you should enfranchise yourself with some information and go to the polls on election day. Or vote early. It might restore some of your faith. But don’t just believe the outcome if your guy wins.
I hope our county clerk has her faith in government restored. But her experiment will have little influence on me. My faith in governance would be bolstered by a record turnout November 7th. You, the voters are our insurance against fraud and corruption. This 234-year-old experiment of representative democracy is being tested.