Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Remain Calm, All Is Well

Regarding the "lost" 171 ballots suddenly showing up in Maplewood, advancing Al Franken about 10% of the ground he needs to make up to catch Coleman, the government official in charge has these soothing words:

[Ramsey County Elections Director Joe Mansky] said the ballots were always secure and were not lost. When the votes were tallied, Al Franken gained 91 votes from the batch, and Norm Coleman picked up 54 votes.
From the front page Star Tribune article summarizing the situation:

Franken unexpectedly picked up 37 votes due to a combined machine malfunction and human error on Election Day that left 171 Maplewood ballots safe, secure but uncounted until Tuesday's final day of recounting in Ramsey County.
From the government's mouth directly to the first paragraph of the "objective" characterization of events in your monopoly newspaper. If nothing else, that is remarkable efficiency.

For the next ballot counting gaffe benefitting Franken, I suggest the press conference be conducted as a ventriloquist act. The Star Tribune reporter can sit on the government official's knee and move their jaws up and down while the official speaks in a squeaky voice behind him.

Granted, the official explanation for this case sounds plausible and the validation procedures in order. But ... where's the journalistic curiosity and natural distrust of government reporters are supposed to have? Do they really know the ballots were "safe and secure" before they immediately go out of their way to hose down any natural suspicions the citizens might have about this unusual event? Do they know these ballots are valid at all? If the judges in that precinct are grossly incomptent to this level, what does that say about what else might have been happening there that night?

Just once I'd like to see a modicum of that heroic skepticism and sleuthing I was sold on during All the Presidents Men as the mission of journalism. Rather, I'd like to once see it unleashed on an official story benefitting Democrats. You know, the kind of tenacity and unquenchable thirst for the truth exhibited when they were digging up Alan Fine's sealed divorce records or printing anonymous allegations and character assassination in order to run Rachel Paulose out of town.

Yes, yes, there's probably nothing to this latest lost ballot story. Once again machine malfunction plus human error equals Democrat party windfall. Why does it always work out that way!? Since the 700-some vote Coleman lead was tabulated on election night, a series of miraculous, once-in-a-lifetime, ballot counting gaffes has gone Franken's way to make this thing absurdly close. We haven't gotten ONE appalling election judge blunder to go Coleman's way and put a stake in Stuart Smalley once and for all. This pattern annoys me.

Not sure what emotion awaits if a few more of these bad vote counting miracles land in his lap to put him over the top.

UPDATE: Keep hope alive!
DFLer Al Franken's campaign lodged a protest over 133 votes that it said could not be accounted for during the recount of one of the city's precincts, at a possible cost to him of as many as 46 net votes in his race against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
Note the point-of-view of the article though, uproar over disappearing mystery ballots, not the calm, cool assurances of a recount correction well done.


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