Recount the voters and recount the ballots

November 27, 2018 GMT


You would think fair and free elections would be one of America’s most treasured treasures, considering it’s a hallmark of our democracy and we like to spread facsimiles of our democracy around the globe.

Well, think again.

The Florida midterm elections, and those in Georgia and elsewhere, are in such a state of flux that potential winners and losers don’t know whether to whet their daggers or wet their index fingers and let the wind decide.

The answers, though, aren’t blowin’ in the wind.

Ah, you haven’t heard the latest election news? A couple of boxes in the trunk of an Avis rental vehicle contained voter ballots in Broward County, Florida. Provisional voter ballots.


The rental car reportedly was discovered near Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. Five days after the Nov. 6 elections. Marked, reportedly, as the property of Brenda Snipes, who is Broward County’s supervisor of elections.

And, later still, this news the Associated Press: Election officials in a Florida county battered last month by Hurricane Michael allowed about 150 displaced voters to cast ballots by email, although such voting is prohibited by state law.

Bay County Elections Supervisor Mark Andersen defended that decision Monday, saying that parts of the county that remain shut off by law enforcement prevented people from reaching their homes and that displaced voters were allowed to scan and email their ballots to the elections office.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican running for the U.S. Sente, had included Bay County in a statement accompanying an executive order that specifically prohibited votes being returned by email or fax.

Mr. Scott remains entangled in the Florida recount with Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and that means the question of who will and will not be a member of the 116th Congress.

Throughout the election cycle, Republicans, Democrats and anyone else steering a political institution called the midterms crucial and critical, as if some are more critical than others.

Every four years we elect a president and vice president, and every two years we elect a new class to Congress, as the U.S. Constitution mandates.

The states, meanwhile, hold the constitutional requirement to allow the votes, collect the votes and count the votes and they failed miserably on that latter charge.

Counting votes involves simple arithmetic, right?

How many registered voters are there?


How many paper ballots are needed? Absentee? Provisional? Electronically-accessible?

How many electronic-ballot voting machines are needed? How many paper-ballot machines?

You know, basic very, very basic arithmetic.

After the polls close, the addition and subtraction begins. Add all the ballots together and the numbers should be near the number of registered voters. Absentee ballots are added.

Then the subtraction begins (that means minus for bureaucratic third-graders). The subtractions include provisional and questionable registrations and ballots, such as hanging chads and mismarked ballots.

The machines and ballots should be treated like police evidence: That is an indisputable chain of possession to ensure the integrity of the voting, the election processes and our democratic, law-and-order principles.

If one of the processes is tarred, it feathers the other (without question).

So Florida, Georgia and some other states must start at the beginning and do the simple arithmetic. And they’ve got to do it right.

There are hiccups in every election, but this midterm mess makes the country look more like a republic of ignoramuses than the United States of America.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at