Originally created 11/30/00

Recalls some sound advice on how to avoid those vote count problems 113000 - The Augusta Chronicle



I enjoyed Dave Christensen's Nov. 24 letter on a different voting system - short and long straws, but I want to be the party or candidate with the short straws in any such election. Long straws can become short straws much easier than vice versa.

Avoiding problems with elections andor drawings reminds me of the story of the group that wanted to help a fellow member down on his luck. They set up a drawing for $50 with all the slips of paper marked with the number seven in a hat.

After the drawing all the other members kept quiet when seven was announced as the winning number. Finally they asked the member down on his luck what number he had. His reply was six and seven-eighths, the hat size.

Seriously, the best advice I ever received on counting ballots was from Julian Salley, then Aiken County attorney. He said never lay a questionable ballot aside to decide at the end when its affect on the outcome is known, but do it at once and have less pressure on your decision. That was in the paper ballot days.

Machine counting systems do this for you by using a predetermined basis for counting valid votes. Machine recounts are very constant if no new ballots are added to the precinct being counted.

Changes in the vote from running ballots multiple times really does not occur. A test deck is made to check that the program developed for each election gives the expected results. That test deck is run many times before the election, once at a public meeting before the election, run again to show the program is correct as you start the election counting, and at the end after the votes are counted to show no change in the program during counting.

A recount would add to the number of times the test deck is run. I have never seen any changes in the test deck result. Test decks are made from the same supply of ballots as were supplied to the voters.

Gene England, Aiken

(Editor's note: The writer is a former Aiken County election commissioner.)