My attention waned in American electoral politics after election day, but the dregs of that election are still floating around in coffee cups in Minnesota. Al Franken and Norm Coleman are locked in a recount fight over a US Senate seat for Minnesota. I gather they are in the depths of a long recount and the lead keeps flipping back and forth. This article from Time discusses the contrast between Florida’s hurried, litigious recount process in 2000 and the more civilized process going on in Minnesota in 2008, where officials have chosen not to set deadlines and fight in court, and instead are simply counting the votes.
I watched HBO’s Recount last night. It brought back memories of the 2000 recount and Bush vs. Gore at the US Supreme Court (MP3). That whole episode looks pretty sad now, and I’m relieved to know that the recount for a similarly close vote is happening in a more thoughtful manner.
What if the 2000 presidential election had hinged not on a diverse, messy, weird and slightly creepy hick state like Florida but on the most organized, practical and cordial one in the Union: Minnesota? What if, instead of going to court after court over hanging chads and butterfly ballots and whether a recount should happen, election officials had just calmly looked at each ballot and tried to figure out what the voter wanted?