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A Simple Measure to Honor the Public Right to See and Authenticate the Count in Tuesday's Massachusetts Senate Race

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Message Susan Pynchon
The U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts is shaping up to be one of the most controversial and expensive elections in U.S. history. With control of the Senate at stake, the polls now show the Republican and Democratic candidates in a neck-and-neck race. If there is an inconclusive outcome leading to a recount, an extended court challenge, and extreme partisan rancor -- all of which seem likely -- a simple question emerges: Why not hand-count the votes in the precincts on election night to verify the machine counts?
Regardless of who wins, the opposing party will be flinging accusations of machine failures, uncounted votes, and fraud. There is only one race on this ballot. It would be easy to divide the ballots in each precinct into three separate piles and simply count the number of votes received by each candidate.
This is not going to happen, however. A simple measure -- hand-counting the votes as a check on the machines on election night, before there are questions about chain-of-custody of the ballots -- will not be done. The second question one has to ask is, "Why not?"
It is not too late for the Massachusetts Secretary of State to order, on an emergency basis, that the ballots be counted in each precinct on election night. While this may not be an official count, it would go a long way toward public confidence in the outcome of Tuesday's election and an excellent check and balance. Why can something so simple, and so effective, not be done?

Sheila Parks, Ed.D.
Founder and Director
Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots
Belmont, MA 02478
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Susan Pynchon is the founder and Executive Director of Florida Fair Elections Coalition and its research counterpart Florida Fair Elections Center.
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