The Recount Norm

A recount? A recount?! For all the things we Minnesotans are able to get right, we can’t seem to be able to hold an election. Remember that eight-month ordeal we had to go through two years ago? Here it comes again.

If you only heard of Minnesota from the news, it seems we’d be igloo-dwellers who can’t keep a football team straight, and can’t count to 8,780 votes (Dayton’s current lead as of the time I am writing). And when we can elect a governor, we elect a wrestler. Maybe the cold has gotten to our heads.

Ah, the recount. As a function of democracy, it certainly has its purpose. Yet when used here as in the gubernatorial and past senatorial election, its purpose to the people is quickly and easily warped. Here, there is little confusion stemming from polling procedures, as there was in the controversial Florida presidential recount in 2000. Instead, because one party feels maligned because the margin of victory is so slim, they are willing to use the recount for their own purposes.

Here are my issues with the recount. At its most simple, it’s like throwing the challenge flag in football. Yet in elections, throwing in the towel doesn’t mean a cut to commercial and yellow marker on the re-play. In the real world of the voting process, it means massive amounts of resources – people, money and time.
Because we only trust machines to tally votes the first time through, we get our recounts done by hand. This means hundreds of hours of labor, which is costly.
Hopefully this recount does not become as exaggerated as the notorious 2008 election. It’s estimated that 20 million dollars were spent over the duration of the recount process. When the past two elections have been decided by who we believe will be better for our bottom-dollar. Why do we immediately turn around a week later and declare that, in the face of the deficit, taxes, and cut programs, we need to saddle the state with increased spending?

The final cost is time. This may be the most injurious of offenses from the recount.
While a new recount would hopefully be settled before inauguration, what happens if it bleeds over that time frame? No one would have expected the election in 2008 (happening in November, as elections do) to be unfinished into the summer months, but it turned out that way. The most hackneyed excuse for the recount was Coleman’s claim to be trying to best represent the freedoms of constituents. I don’t want to ever be fed that line again. While thousands of people did vote for him, no one ever asked to have their representation in Congress taken away from them because of one man fighting a battle for first. Having a senator, Democrat or Republican, is better than no senator at all. Simply because one party feels that it was shorted by a close margin is no reason to tread on the rights of an entire state.

It’s that particular precedent that worries me now. What we have is a close election, not one that is rigged or skewed to any particular side. As a nation we’ve had much closer elections: at least four elections for office have been settled by two votes or less. The vote to establish the 19th Amendment in Tennessee (the last state to ratify) was passed by a one-vote margin. So what happens when a nearly 10,000-vote margin becomes “too close to call?” To immediately ring the bell for a recount enables one man or woman to hold the entire state and its election hostage. An election should never become one politician trying to settle the score.

When a recount is in the best interest of the voters, then by all means, a recount is necessary. Whether there is widespread evidence of voter fraud, disenfranchisement, or voting-place error, if there is a glitch in the system it has to be fixed. In those instances, a recount is the correct course of action. It should not become the norm to start suing for a senate or governor seat if one candidate feels that they should have won. Just because the outcome is not what they wanted is no reason to launch the state into disarray


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Welcome to the discussion. Before posting, please read our discussion guidelines.