Vox Populi
A Letter to the Editor

Seeing "Red"?
Tuesday, October 26, 2004

by Daryle Hendricksen

I felt the need to write concerning the latest 'vox Populi' written by Ms. Violetta Murphy [Reference: Seeing "Red" Over Mr. Andersson's Response to a Vox Populi -Ed]. As usual, I'll try to keep this brief and to the point:

First and foremost, I feel the need to write because of my support of 'The Green Papers'. As I've stated in the past, I am a right-leaning Libertarian- though I disagree with the Republicans on many social issues (at least at the point at which they try to force their views upon others), I will always support the Republican candidate over the Democratic candidate. I usually try to vote for the Libertarian candidate, whenever possible, although this year in particular the Libertarians have made it impossible for me to do that: their blind opposition to the War on Terror is simply too much for me to bear, so I am left with no choice but to cast my vote for George W. Bush for President.

Having said all of that, I have a very good friend from college (who happens to live in New Jersey), who is a big supporter of the Democrats: while we share many Libertarian views, he is very left-leaning and does not at all like the "Republican" party-- he often talks about Bush having been [s]elected and obviously was not at all happy with the election year 2000 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. In spite of our disagreements, though, we agree that 'The Green Papers' is an excellent non-partisan resource: he has, in the past, stated the 'The Green Papers' is as non-partisan as The Weather Channel, and I very much agree-- in fact, most times, it's as interesting as The Weather Channel, too! [I say that in fun :) ] But, once in a while (every four years, in fact), something similar to a hurricane comes along and it's difficult to turn the "channel"! :)

I find it very amusing that Ms. Murphy accuses you of offering "little real explanation"-- if there's one thing you CANNOT be accused of, it's of offering "little real explanation"! Obviously, she has not been reading 'The Green Papers' for very long, and has not read your many articles concerning the 2000 Presidential election!!! Then, after accusing you of not explaining yourself, she goes on to state that "I saw friends and acquaintances of mine, neighbors and even members of my family, unfairly and illegally denied their right to vote back in 2000!" That's it-- no explanation at all. We have no way of knowing how these people were "denied their right to vote": Was the ballot confusing? Were they turned away at the polls? Are they afraid that their vote was cast but not counted? What does this mean? Are we to simply take her at her word that all of these people were "denied their right to vote" Whose fault was it? How did it happen? No explanation.

Our voting system isn't perfect. I believe that EVERYONE, Republicans and Democrats, try to do their best to make the system fair for everyone. The butterfly ballot (conceived by a Democrat, by the way) was NOT created to confuse voters, but it did. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and move on. Personally, I have severe misgivings about an electronic voting system that leaves no paper trail-- there will be a problem with that down the road, too, I'm sure. However, I don't believe that anyone is trying to cheat or deny anyone of the right to vote-- everyone will do what they can to get an "edge" (get out the vote campaigns, etc.) and individuals might try to "work" the system (by voting in two places, for example), but I just don't believe our election officials are actively trying to deny law abiding citizens of their right to vote - in Florida or in any other state!

As for Colorado, I can't believe that the voters there would be so foolish as to turn their 9 vote electoral power into an insignificant 1 vote margin state (or ZERO vote, should they return to having an even number of electors in the future). No candidate (Republican or Democrat) is going to even bother wasting their time in that state if they only have one electoral vote to gain there by winning! What a bad idea!

Daryle Hendricksen,

Mr. Berg-Andersson responds:

I thank you for your kind comments about 'The Green Papers' and will just leave it at that.

I will here only note that being an election official can so often be a rather thankless job, going all the way to the top: Secretaries of State (or equivalent) of the several States are, unfortunately, most often the product of a nominating process in one or the other of the two Major Parties- being, in most cases, an elective office- and, while the post is not necessarily a springboard to higher political office (though Katherine Harris, the last of Florida's elected Secretaries of State and who was in the very center of that vortex which was 'Florida 2000', has since become a Member of Congress; and New York's most recent Democratic Governor, Mario Cuomo [who served in office 1983-1994], began his Statewide political career as its Secretary of State- an appointive office in that State [thus, not being directly elected does not fully separate the office from a political Party]), it can certainly become the center of political controversy in what has to otherwise be a non-partisan operation (the conduct of elections).

Take a Secretary of State (or equivalent) who is of Major Party X: if the other Major Party- Y- is reported to be engaging in illegal pre- (or even post-)election chicanery to the detriment of Party X (and keep in mind our legal system's concept of "innocent until proven guilty") and the Secretary of State's office comes down hard (as it should, if necessary!) in their investigation of the alleged perpetrators, there will be those in Party Y who will see this as a purely partisan "witch hunt"; if it is the Secretary of State's own Party- X- that is being charged with such mischief, the Secretary of State risks alienating the very people who put him or her into office (while there will be those in Party Y who will- regardless of how hard the Secretary of State comes down on Party X-based chicanery- see it as "soft-pedaling" [after all, they're trying to get a Secretary of State of their own Party elected or appointed!]). It's pretty much a "no-win" situation (especially if the election in which such illegality is alleged ends up having been a close one).

It seems as if, whenever I discuss, with someone I know who is usually a supporter of one Major Party over the other, even the possibility of election fraud which reportedly originates with this friend/acquaintance's own Party of choice, the response is almost always along the lines of an annoyed "click of the tongue" followed by a reference to some even worse election fraud (long past or more recent, real or imagined, critically examined by political historians or "urban legend") allegedly conducted by the other Major Party, ending with the rather cryptic comment "not that I'm making any excuses or anything" (which, in fact, my friend/acquaintance just did!). In Politics, as in Sports, there is the same concept of "well- yes, he might be a dirty player- but at least he's our dirty player!"-- however, also as in Sports, there's "cheating" with a small 'c' (merely getting an "edge", as you've said [though I'm not here talking about "get out the vote" drives but more of what you yourself called "work"ing the system]) and "CHEATING!!!" writ large (as in the outright "stealing" of an election [making sure the result differs from what would be indicated by unmanipulated returns]): it is the same as the difference between Pete Rose bowling over Ray Fosse at the plate in order to score the winning run in the 1970 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and Alex Rodriguez purposely knocking the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's hand as Arroyo is about to tag A-Rod along the first base line in the recently completed League Championship Series between the Red Sox and Yankees.

Then again, doesn't the Mission Statement of this very website itself compare covering Politics to covering Sports? ;-)


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