Rather often, when one sees the word “Florida” in a headline one can expect a story about a shirtless drunken man who was hauled out by cops from underneath a trailer while his meth addled paramour stood on the stoop screaming about the python in the bathtub she may or may not be hallucinating.
Stories about California, however, tend to focus on the wonders of a progressive high-tech green paradise at the cutting edge of the planetary zeitgeist.
How, then, is Florida Man so incredibly good at counting votes quickly and accurately while California Man is sooooo incredibly bad at it?
Let’s find out –
This is how you vote in Florida:
You register and if you want an absentee ballot – anyone can get one – you ask for it at least 10 days before the election and it must be returned – not postmarked by – election day. If you want, you can drop it off at one of the many, many early voting sites (which is where, as the name implies, anyone can go to vote earlier than election day.)
If you can’t quite make it to the post office to drop off your ballot, someone else can do it for you provided you follow the rules:
“You may designate someone to pick up your vote-by-mail ballot on Election Day or 9 days before Election Day. The designee may only pick up 2 vote-by-mail ballots per election, other than his or her own ballot or ballots for members of his or her immediate family. Designees must have written authorization from the voter, present a picture I.D. and sign an affidavit. Candidates may pick up vote-by-mail ballots only for members of their immediate family.”
As for day-of voting, Florida uses a paper ballot system – fill in the ovals – for everyone unless they are disabled and feel more comfortable using an electronic console.
Oh, and every vote requires valid identification documents and signatures that match those on file.
This is how the ballots are counted in Florida:
The day-of ballots are run through tabulating machines that have been thrice-checked in the month leading up to the election, including on the day of the election. Every ballot (even the electronics produce a paper trail) is kept secure in case of a recount. Double-password protected files/drives are then used to secure the tabulation results which are then sent to the Secretary of State’s office (additional verification is required during this process.)
As to the mail-in ballots, they are opened and verified the day they are received and can be counted prior to election day as long as the machines being used have been, again, thrice-tested by a licensed inspector.
This is how you vote in California:
Everyone gets a ballot in the mail, and by that I mean everyone, dead or alive, moved out of state or not, etc. Then you can fill it out whenever or someone can “help” you – and everyone else in the nursing home or at the shelter or on the streetcorner or wherever – fill it out and drop it in a questionably-secured “official” box which may or may not have lots and lots of “found” ballots in it as well. Or you can wait until election day and vote in person – pretty much anywhere using a provisional ballot – and you do not have to show identification. And maybe eventually someone will check if you already voted by mail, or somewhere else.
And this is how ballots are counted in California:
Fhayg&*#84 – and the check is in the mail – 5ehj””” – thumb is on scale – 5erxykstyk7d – and it will be done in December – gfyk;6850-23-64/zdfhsetsute – and trust us this the most safe and secure election ever – 4648ljxkrle5858 – and it’s racist to do it another way – zsdhsrysir6uze!!!!!!!!! – and – and GlARMGLARMGLARM and then the candidate who is favored by the one-party apparatus that has run the state into the ground somehow always gets 57.7% of the vote.
Or something like that; admittedly I may be paraphrasing a bit.
And in Florida it took about three hours to get through their count – in California, three days later many many places have still counted less than half of the ballots.
Proper vote counting doesn’t seem to be a red state/blue state issue. Rhode Island, a very blue, rather corrupt, state had everything done and dusted by about 11 p.m. and its election website even reports exactly where votes are coming from and how many are left on a town-by-town basis. Red Alaska, on the other hand, is taking longer than most, though that may be down to two issues – the state is, well, big and the state has instituted, for some maniacal reason, the “ranked choice” voting system, a system loved by the permanent bureaucracy everywhere because it is intentionally designed to weed out candidates who want to make quick decisive changes and/or have overwhelming public mandates.
As to purple states, the mishigosh currently occurring in Nevada and Arizona shows the problems can occur everywhere, though oddly enough I don’t recall Arizona having trouble counting its ballots until it became a purple state…
So why doesn’t every state simply cut/paste Florida and/or Rhode Island’s system into their voting laws and be done with it? A crisp clean professional vote tabulation goes a very long way to ensuring that people trust the system and the results, a fact that cannot be understated.
The crux, sadly, is that gray begets gray and gray areas can be very useful places – for some – to be when it comes to counting votes. Systems – any systems, not just voting ones – that are more complicated and obtuse are more prone to manipulation. They also, because they’re more complicated, necessitate more people to operate and are therefore good for bureaucratic empire builders.
Finally, complicated, not terribly trustworthy elections lead the population to a more psychologically fragile place and that is a place that is far more easily manipulated and controlled.
In other words, by creating cracks in the bedrock of our democratic republic, those who wish to see it harmed have gained a very specific strategic advantage allowing them to pose a very simple question – why keep any of it if my part of it obviously doesn’t work?
And that’s why this is so important.
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