Monday, November 08, 2004

Voting Issues

One of the reasons I blew out of here for the weekend was that after the 100th or so shrill email accusing me of failing to acknowledge PROOF that the ELECTION WAS STOLEN I was a bit fed up.

Yes, there are serious problems with the way we count the votes in this country. Yes, no electronic voting machines without paper trails should exist. Yes, all machine counted votes should have random audits to ensure their reliability even if the election isn't thought to be close. Yes, no one should stand in line for 4 hours to vote. Yes, the media should be demanding, and the authorities providing, answers to obviously legitimate questions about various anomalies, such as more people voting in a county than were apparently registered. And, yes, I'm sure I can think of a few more things.

But, irregularities and questionable results are not necessarily "proof" of "fraud" and "proof" that the "election was stolen. " If people want this issue to be taken seriously they need to stop thinking that any of the information floating around right now - and yes, I've seen it all multiple times - provides proof of any such thing. Yes, legitimate questions have been raised, but I fear people on "our side" have started to confuse the legitimate questions with the answers to those questions they've imagined. I'm fully ready to believe that everything was corrupt in Florida, Ohio, and elsewhere, but thinking and knowing are different things entirely.

It is entirely true that there are a sufficient number of either weird or clearly unacceptable things which happened during this election. It's entirely true that the media should be following up more of these stories; the integrity of our democracy is seriously at stake. But, the cause is not helped by touting inconclusive statistical studies as "proof" or screaming "kerry won! kerry won!" every five seconds.

A "smoking gun" may yet appear, but until that time we need to differentiate between legitimate questions and manufactured answers. And, the cause of improving things by '06 is not helped by turning legitimate questions into conspiracy theories.

There's never anything wrong with raising questions. There is something wrong with believing you have answers to those questions that are not supported by the evidence.