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See (Literally) Why Al Franken is Gaining Votes

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See (Literally) Why Al Franken is Gaining Votes

Posted by Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet at 5:14 PM on November 20, 2008.

Minnesota Public Radio's website has examples of the kinds of errors voters made when marking paper ballots.

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The reason Minnesota's Democratic senatorial candidate, Al Franken, is poised to catch up with and possibly beat the Republican incumbent, Norm Coleman, is vividly demonstrated on the Minnesota Public Radio website.

This report shows varieties of sloppy writing by voters who used pens to mark their paper ballots -- marks that could not be read by optical-scan computer counters. You literally can see examples of ballots that were not counted in the tally on Election Night and decide how you would count them: for Franken or Coleman.

Apparently, Franken is benefiting from what appears to be sloppier writing by Democrats than Republicans. As of late Wednesday, he was trailing by 168 votes and gaining on Coleman.


The Minnesota recount shows exactly why most voting rights advocates conclude that hand-marked paper ballots are the best way to vote. Unlike Georgia, where the final unresolved U.S. Senate seat will be selected in a runoff election in early December and the public uses paperless voting machines, in Minnesota representatives of both parties can clearly see the voters' intent in a deliberative but accurate recount.

No one has to trust a voting system's underlying software is working properly. Neither are there worries that the ATM-like printouts from paperless machines that report the vote totals is accurate. Instead, hand-marked paper ballots are the foundation for a civil recount process where the voter's intent is as clear as human nature permits.

Take a look at these ballots and keep that image in your mind as the focus soon shifts to Georgia, where, if past is prologue, the final vote and count of the 2008 General Election is likely to be very different.


Steven Rosenfeld  covers democracy issues for AlterNet. He is a longtime print and broadcast journalist and has reported for National Public Radio, Monitor Radio, Marketplace,  and many newspapers. (more...)

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