Over 125 million votes were cast in this year's election. We tend to forget, in the midst of this big number, the fact that individual human beings have made choices based on their own beliefs, ideologies, and judgments. As we crunch the numbers and look for patterns, this individuality gets lost. Rarely do individual votes make much of a difference in the outcome. However, from time to time (Florida 2000) we actually get a chance to examine more closely these individual choices. Sometimes, small numbers matter. We have another case this year in the Minnesota Senate race, now in the midst of a recount. Like in the Florida 2000 case, the intent of the voter is open to interpretation when a ballot's markings are ambiguous. Minnesota Public Radio has provided some examples of what election officials are up against. Take a look and make your own determination here. My favorite disputed ballot is the one below:
This ballot comes from Beltrami County. Located in north central Minnesota, Beltrami County has a steady history of Democratic support. This year Obama won 54% to McCain's 44%. Other than going for George W. Bush in 2000, the county has voted Democratic in every election since 1976.
Apparently, however, the choices in this year's Senate matchup were unsatisfying for this particular voter. A quick internet search doesn't find much of a history of "lizard people" running for office in these parts. I haven't done research into how easy it is for third parties to get ballot access in Minnesota either.
Does this voter want Franken? Did he initially choose Franken but then cross him out and write in "Lizard People"? Does he think all of these candidates are "Lizard People"--perhaps an astute observation about the political class? Anyhow, the margin between Franken and Coleman now stands at 136 votes. I would love to watch these ballots be argued about and potentially litigated. God help the election officials. And keep an eye on Lake Superior for any disturbances.