Minnesota Challenged Ballots
If you were under the illusion that people in Palm Beach, Florida were unusually stupid or supporters of the Bush and Gore camps in 2000 were exceptionally mendacious, take a look at this Minnesota Public Radio collection of challenged ballots in the Coleman-Franken contest.
In almost all cases, I’d say the intent of the voter was clear and that the voter followed the rules and was merely thwarted by the use of cheap, messy pens. I mean, c’mon, a thumbprint smear is a “distinguishing mark”?
I would say that ballots #3, 5, 6, and 11 should be thrown out.
#3. I’m sorry, but if you can’t figure out that the candidates have circles by them inside the box and that there are no places to mark any candidate but Barkley outside the box, you’re too damned stupid to vote. (That said, I’m guessing this person was voting for Barkley. Which, it could be argued, is additional evidence for the “too stupid to vote” thesis.)
#5. The guy who wrote “Lizard People” in along with voting for a candidate in each spot did in fact overvote. If you want the Lizard People to represent you, then, damn it, have the courage of your convictions. Also, you’re crazy.
#6. “This Olmsted County voter placed a checkmark next to Al Franken’s name and also circled one of the guide marks for the optical scanner. The Coleman campaign challenged the voter’s intent. “ My guess is that this is a Franken vote and, if this is consistent with the way the rest of the ballot was marked, I’d be inclined to count it for Franken. But, seriously, how hard is it to fill in a bubble?
#11. This one is funny.
Now, I’m pretty sure this is a Coleman vote. Certainly, this guy didn’t intend to underline Franken. But how hard is it to get another ballot and do it right?
Ultimately, there are rules for voting and Minnesota couldn’t have made them much simpler. Tiny stray marks and smudges on the ballot are one thing. But simply ignoring the instructions? No vote for you.
Interestingly, the unrepresentative but large sample at the MPR site generally agreed with me on how to treat the ballots, agreeing with me on all but 3 or 4. Oddly, they wanted to give Franken the “Lizard People” vote overwhelmingly, figuring the voter intent was clear. Make of that what you will.