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home : insight & opinion : guest columns
February 16, 2020

2/11/2020 1:27:00 PM
Why not wait until votes are counted?
For the Daily News

I recall waiting up to hear if Eisenhower had been elected president. It was exciting because it was the first time I was allowed to stay up late. The radio announcer kept reminding the listeners that it was important to wait until all of the votes were counted and tabulated before the winner could be announced, and mentioned an earlier election in which Dewey was thought to have defeated Truman and how newspaper headlines saying as much got it wrong.

Voting takes time. Counting votes takes time. We have no patience for the process and want to know as soon as possible who won. That is a mistake, and now it's spilled over on the one estate of our public life that should know better.

The Iowa caucuses did not go well, apparently, if we judge such things by how quickly the results can be known. A new phone app was used to tabulate the totals for the candidates and it failed to work as promised. I don't know why, or much care. I'd rather hear the truth after waiting a bit to get it, than hear lies and speculations about them 100 times until then.

This does not necessarily mean, by the way, that: (a) the Democrats can't do anything right; (b) all of the candidates wasted their money campaigning in Iowa; (c) a Republican victory is now assured in the fall; or (d) the press is trying to make something out of this that it's not. (that last one might be true, but I'm not going to be the one to say so).

It takes 10 days to two weeks to count all of the absentee ballots in our elections for most states, and after a gross count of how many there are, depending on the margin of difference between the candidates to any given office, it may or may not be necessary. If there is a recount request from one side or the other, mistakes are always found and the tabulation can show significant differences, sometimes enough to mean the difference between winning and losing.

Such was the case in Florida in 2000, and a recount was underway when Bush filed suit in the Supreme Court to have it stopped while he was leading in the count. The court agreed and declared him the winner and president. They were wrong to have done so, but then they are human and make mistakes, so that was just another. There was no deadline on the horizon that necessitated terminating a recount and the mistake of not letting voters know that each and every one of their votes has been properly counted lingers.

The president, and many news media outlets, have jumped on the faulty app as a sign of political end times for reasons unknown, and can't seem to keep themselves from instantly reporting how something entirely speculative is somehow ruinous for all time to come and you "heard it here first." Democracy is in danger and millions are threatened.  Not so, but someone will probably say as much.

Relax, people. Let's vote without being rabid and let's count them in good humor and joy that we live in a country, the greatest on earth, that lets us vote and then waits to count them before officially declaring a winner. CNN, Fox and PBS may make projections, but they don't count; only the official count counts, and I'm going to wait for it.

The important things for us to do are to vote, and make sure all of our votes are counted so that we can go forward together and say "that's our guy, or gal, in that office." And whether they were my favorite candidate or yours, they are the winner, and it is my duty is to support them as far as my conscience will allow.


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