One of the most fundamental premises of Democracy, so fundamental that it should never need restating, is that every ballot cast by a voter should be counted.
New York State’s Republican Party has shown in two recent Elections that it is both unconcerned about the accuracy of vote tallies and that it believes the public should be denied transparency in the vote.
Following the mandates of Federal law enacted after the 2000 Bush-Gore Florida debacle, New Yorkers vote by filling out paper ballots that are counted by electronic scanning machines.
The scanners are not perfect, nor can they detect a vote when a citizen marks a ballot improperly, for example, by circling rather than filling in the oval next to a candidate’s name.
New York voting irregularities are under investigation after Primary and Courts have ruled that those ballots are valid when they show the clear intent of a voter.
Generally, the failure to count such votes has no effect on outcomes because most Elections are decided by good-sized margins.
The problem arises when the vote tallies are close.
To ensure that the truly winning candidate takes office, the New York City Board of Elections inspects and counts by hand all ballots when the margin of victory is 0.5% or less. It also counts, after each Election, a random 3% of the vote, to verify the accuracy of the optical scanners.
A Bronx contest two years ago confirmed the necessity of checking the paper ballots.
By the machine tally, Bronx Assemblyman Victor Pichardo lost by six votes, 1,879 to 1,885, but the hand count resulted in a two-vote margin of victory. Had the board not checked, a majority of the voters in the District would have been disenfranchised.
In September, in an upstate Republican Primary, ballot scanners reported that the candidate of the Rochester GOP organization had beaten a competitor by just three votes, 933 to 930, with two dozen unrecorded ballots. Fearful that a true count could overturn the victory, the Republican Party has thus far blocked a hand count.
Meanwhile, in Essex County in the Adirondacks, Republicans are fighting to stop the voters from seeing ballots and conducting their own counts.
In addition to counting the ballots, the scanners photograph them. Those images, which do not show the names of voters, are public records that must be available for inspection.
The Daily News set the precedent in 2010 that images are covered by the Freedom of Information Law.
Do you think the State GOP is cheating Democracy?
NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
This post first appeared on The Independent View, please read the originial post: here