Thursday, December 28, 2017

Spoiled for Sure

Maybe you've heard about the Virginia House of Delegates race that came down to one vote. At first, the Republican candidate had won by 10 votes, but after a hand recount, the Democrat was ahead by one vote. And lots of people shared posts on social media about "see, one vote really does count."

Well, they spoke too soon, because that one-vote margin was soon turned into a tie by a panel of judges who ruled a particular ballot — which had not been included in the count because it was unclear — should be counted for the Republican candidate. The judges said the two candidates would have to draw lots to break the tie.

I swear I was not paying much attention to this. I really wasn't. But then I saw the ballot in question. Here it is with all party affiliations removed:

(Click to enlarge... sorry for the lousy image, which was photographed from my television screen.)

Which of the two candidate circles within the red box did the voter select? Can you tell?

Any honest person looking at that piece of paper would have no certain idea which of the names the voter meant to select. Both are marked, one with an extra mark. Obviously, the voter should have asked for a different ballot and started over, but they didn't.

This is a model of a spoiled ballot, in fact.

Here it is with the party affiliations included:

With that additional visual information, you can see that the voter selected Republicans for the other races that have party affiliations available. But that should not influence the judges' interpretation of the unclear vote.

It's ridiculous that this ballot was declared a vote for the Republican candidate, and I hope the appeals court finds in the Democrat's favor.

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