Chads? What chads? Why prolong the recount agony in Worcester?
Are we alone in failing to find a persuasive rationale for Councilor Frederick C. Rushton's pursuit of a hand recount of the Worcester mayoral race?
To be sure, Mr. Rushton, who trailed Mayor Konstantina B. Lukes by 105 votes, has every legal right to seek a recount. Yet a week and a half after Mrs. Lukes made history by becoming the city's first popularly elected female mayor, Mr. Rushton has yet to offer a convincing explanation as to why he believes the initial count was invalid or the result incorrect.
That's not to say he hasn't advanced numerous hypotheses about how the process might have been botched:
The 925 blanks. Mr. Rushton suggests the fact that 925 people - 4 percent of 21,000-plus voters who cast ballots - did not vote for any mayoral candidate impugns the accuracy of the voting machines.
Actually, a 4 percent "undecided" or "none of the above" vote is utterly unsurprising. In each of the past three mayoral elections, hundreds more blanks were recorded than this year, including 2,921 mayoral blanks in 2001.
This year, other council races were blanked far more heavily than was the mayoral race. Even in hotly contested District 1, almost 10 percent of the voters blanked both candidates.
Scanner questions. Mr. Rushton has strived to raise doubts about the accuracy of the computer voting system, although the evidence he offers remains thin.
It is true, as far as it goes, that the system failed in a test in Worcester in 1993. But councilors conducting the test had set out deliberately to thwart the system by mismarking the test ballots.
Mr. Rushton says questions have been raised in other communities about the accuracy of the system. Questions, yes, but this technology is used - and has proved to be highly accurate - across the state, throughout Connecticut and in every part of the United States. Moreover, as required by state law, every machine passed a 50-ballot test run before the election.
"Verified" elections. If, as Mr. Rushton suggests, only a hand count can ensure a "verified election," must every race of every election be hand-counted to be legitimate in his eyes?
Provisional ballots. The ballots cast on Election Day by people whose names were not on the official voter list might alter the final vote count slightly. But even if all 83 provisional votes were certified and all (plus the three military ballots) were cast for Mr. Rushton, he still would lack the votes needed to overtake Mrs. Lukes.
Echoes of 2000? Mr. Rushton makes the curious argument that in the wake of the 2000 presidential election, which he says many people believe was "stolen," people need to have their faith in the accuracy of the voting process restored. Assuming he wasn't implying the 2007 mayoral election was stolen - how? by whom? - what is the basis for comparison? Old-style punch-card ballots used in Florida, with their "dimples" and "hanging chads" - long since banished from these parts - are galaxies removed from Worcester's computerized system.
Given the inherent divisiveness of any recount - and the black eye the electoral turmoil is giving the city - the sooner the process is completed, the better. Yet the tendency has been to prolong the agony at every step along the way.
Mr. Rushton waited three days to announce his intention to seek a recount and stretched the signature-gathering process to the limit. Surely, his well-oiled campaign organization could gather 10 signatures from each of the 10 wards in a matter of hours rather than taking more than a week.
We now learn the recount is unlikely to be before Nov. 24, and may be as late as Nov. 26.
The recount could be held as early as Tuesday - and it certainly should be. If a potential conflict between the recount and the City Council meeting is really a problem, find another venue for the count or, failing that, delay or cancel the meeting.
In announcing he would pursue a recount a week ago, Mr. Rushton said, "We need to restore confidence in the voting process in a fair and just manner." Dragging out the process - with the possibility that legal challenges will prolong the agony down the line - has precisely the opposite effect.
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|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Nov 16, 2007|
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