I was going to comment on yesterday’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle on the accuracy of elections (“The vote you cast may not be tallied, 1 out of 100 shown uncounted in 2004“), but I don’t really have much more to add than TJ’s report over at Also Also.
There are two salient points to take from this analysis: first, electoral error rates can run to at LEAST 1%–and I say at least, because the figure cited only refers to votes not counted, leaving out invalid votes that are accidentally counted. In fact, as the article points out, “The National Commission on Election Reform has recommended that states reduce their error rates below 2 percent no matter what mechanism they use [emph mine, again].” Below two percent? So what does it say about a county with a new database and record numbers of voters, when they manage to achieve an “error rate” about one-TENTH of the national standard?
It says that whatever irregularities there were in this election (and of course, there were some,) were not all that irregular. I’ll repeat my mantra: the only thing extraordinary about this election is its extraordinary closeness. This election is so far within the margin of error that we simply cannot confidently determine who got the most votes… but Gregoire won by the rules. If there had been no hand recount, and Rossi had been declared the winner by 42 votes, his attorneys would be as vigorous in defending the integrity of the election as they are now in attacking it.
It is time to stop arguing over this past election, and start arguing over how to improve future ones. To that end, I intend to start posting a series on election reform, later this week.