5

I've been following the Florida senate race, and according to multiple sources, something seems to be off about the votes in a specific district.

It mentions that the design of the ballot itself could cause people to not vote in the Senate race, skipping it entirely. Were this the case, a number of votes would be missing that voted for the governorship, but missed voting for Senator due to the location of the voting area. If a manual recount is done, I expect them to see a number of blank votes in that section, but that's just speculation.

My real question is this:

If a ballot design is determined to have caused a number of people to unintentionally skip a vote on the ballot, are any steps taken to ensure all votes are counted?

6

If a ballot design is determined to have caused a number of people to unintentionally skip a vote on the ballot, are any steps taken to ensure all votes are counted?

No. Ballot design needs to be fixed before the election.

In 1996, it was clear that some people who intended to vote for Bob Dole accidentally voted for a different candidate. This is because the ballot looked something like:

Bill Clinton                          O
                                      O                                Ross Perot
Bob Dole                              O
                                      O                              Harry Browne

Some people who wanted to vote for Bob Dole, (and seeing that Dole's name was the second name in the left column, which they inferred must have been reserved for major candidates), punched the second mark. So they unintentionally selected Ross Perot, because the ballot's designers counted line numbers, not columns, and Dole was listed on the third line.

Not only did they not fix things so that those people had their votes count as intended, they used the same system in 2000. It blew up spectacularly and they finally fixed it for 2004. Of course, by 2018, they could find a new way to make things not work.

They don't know which ballots belong to which people. If they did, then the vote would not be anonymous. So they can't fix just the bad ballots. To fix things, they would have to redo the entire election. And there is no provision for redoing elections.

The truth is that all this stuff was available before the election. Someone could have observed prior to the election that the ballot was flawed and raised a stink then, when it might have been changed. The system is designed so that once the election happens, there is no way to fix votes. They have to fix things for the next election.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Your example is very similar to the infamous "butterfly ballot" of the 2000 Presidential election. Since the vote in Florida was extremely close, and Florida had enough electoral votes to swing the Presidency, a conventional ballot would have gotten Gore elected rather than Bush. – David Thornley Nov 13 '18 at 16:49
  • 1
    That seems unusually easy to "rig" in that case. What stops people from intentionally obfuscating names in this manner, and chalking it up later to "design flaws"? – Anoplexian Nov 14 '18 at 16:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .