Scoutmaster Musings - Citizen Good Turn


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Scoutmaster Musings

Citizen Good Turn
Maybe you've heard of the tight Coleman-Franken senate race in Minnesota and the recount being conducted now. About 2/3 of the 2.9million ballots have been recounted but it will still take weeks for the 2,000+ challenged ballots to be examined. It's a long process involving thousands of volunteers and city, county, state employees. And, I can tell you from experience, it is tedious.

For my Good Turn, I volunteered to help with the recount process. I spent 5 hours one day last week in City Hall helping to inspect ballots for precincts in my county. It was an interesting, but tedious, process in which every ballot is important and manually counted. Every ballot is handled at least 3 times, often more.

One employee was a 'sorter' and sat with a pile of ballots in frount of her, a Franken rep on one side and a Coleman rep on the other. The sorter placed each ballot on either the Coleman pile in front of the Franken rep or on the Franken pile in front of the Coleman rep. The representatives job was to quickly inspect the ballot to ensure it was FOR that candidate and accept it into the pile.

The representative could challenge a ballot at that point. Each side has challenged about 1,000 ballots so far but we had just a few in our counting.

Once all the ballots were sorted into Coleman, Franken, or Other then they were counted. A counter, with both a Franken and Coleman rep watching, counted each ballot from the Coleman pile into groups of 25. Each group was set aside and tallied. Then, the process was repeated with the Franken pile and the Other pile.

When the counting was complete for a precinct, the three totals equaled the original total for the precinct or else they had to be recounted until the error was found. This happened twice in the precincts I helped count. Fortunately, a group of 26 was found quickly so it did not take long.

For my part, I felt I was useful. I found a ballot placed in the wrong party's pile and I stopped two miscounts and asked for the group of 25 to be recounted, saving the mistake from happening. All that in 'just' 5 hours. Like I said, it's a tedious process.

Rather than being just one of the millions casting votes that don't seem to matter, I have a better attitude about the importance of each vote. I also am surprised at the poor functioning of the ballot systems we have in place in this country. I certainly hope that in the next 3 years improvements are made that ensure proper counting of ballots.

Scout On
Posted: 11:43 11-23-2008 377
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