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Friday, December 08, 2006

Brock Salmon With a Levy Abbott

As I sleep at night this week I have had dreams of ballots and names floating through my thoughts. Brock, Brock, Salmon, Abbot, Brock, Salmon and blank haunt me like guilt festering in a child’s head after stealing a cookie. For the last five days, I have spent my time involved in a recount for the state’s Auditors race. If I had known what I know now, there is no way I would have volunteered to take this task on. Here in Montpelier, Democratic and Republican volunteers under the direction of the Washington County Clerk’s office have labored over the task of recounting the votes for this elected position.

The process while tedious has given me insight of what an arduous task it is too properly tally the votes of an election. Unlike the 2000 presidential election, there are no hanging chads, just the repetitions of the count. The process while not perfect has a built in check systems to verify the accuracy of the count. Rooms are set up of teams of four; each team consists of two Democrats and two Republicans. Teams are given the duty of counting votes, verifying voter check lists or counting out packets of fifty ballots. Every thing is cross checked multiple times. The votes are tabulated by all four people in a team and if the numbers do not coincide with each other the process for that packet must start over. Yes, while there is some human element of error, every effort has been made to obtain accurate counts. Every vote is counted whether for perennial Liberty Union Candidate Jerry Levy, Progressive Martha Abbott, the blanks or the countless write-ins for Mickey Mouse or cousin Brucey.

So while spending the last week captive in a court house with complete strangers has not been my ideal method of occupying my time, I have gained a greater respect for the democratic process. While I do not agree politically with the countless Republicans in the room and some of the Democrats in the room, I have obtained a sense of admiration for all of them. Like me, they all want to see the democratic process work and for them to take time out their schedule shows the good nature of these individuals. The process could not work without them.

Still no winner declared in the recount it will continue until next week, I exited the courthouse and breathed in the fresh cool air on my walk home through the streets of Montpelier, known to some as Montpeculiar. Having spent the last six months here I was beginning to feel that there were no Republicans in this town. Being captivated within the heart of the Democratic campaigns I infrequently associated with anybody who was not a left leaning fanatic.

To me the Republicans of the nationally level are nothing but a bunch of low down scoundrels that are sucking the country dry and I was starting to feel that way about any Republican. I have one uncle who thinks we should line up every Republican and shoot them dead, a bit harsh I think. But as history has shown us any politically party that manipulates the public with fear and patriotism can captivate the public into supporting an agenda that is diametrically opposed to their moral compass. The past few years an agenda of morality and patriotism has been dictated upon us with little regards to the law. Instead inhumanity and treasonous acts have been committed against the nation and the world. So of course my outlook on Republicanism has not been too favorable, but conversing with these Vermont Republicans I realize that while their party may have abandoned them, they as individuals are not bad people. In fact they care as much about society as I do, but see things in another frame of light.

So returning home today, I read a post on www.greenmountaindaily.com about the recount procedure and its perspective was favoring overturning the election towards Salmon. I read the comments and of course a bit of disgruntled commentary from “Independents and Progressives.” Issues of trusting the counters, the absence of Independents or Progressives in the process, or the fact that it occurs during the day while people are working came into question. The recount process does have its flaws, but as a result of the 1980 Leahy vs. Ledbetter recount the state implemented new procedures into law. While election laws have dictated the procedural operations of this recount, there have emerged further issues of election procedures that will have to be addressed.

A Popular issue driven by the Progressives for Instant Runnoff Voting is circulating since no candidate has received over 50 percent of the vote. Issues of a recount would have been mute if a system had been in place. No matter what the results of this election cycle, the victor will not have obtained a majority of voters, thus an elected official representing a populace where the majority of voters have chosen against them. Still the disturbing fact that only 53.5 of registered voters voted in this election shows even greater flaws to the representative government. Additionally, many ballots were left blank thus those voters showed either dissatisfaction with the candidates or their non interests in prioritizing the race. Either way, if the all those who did not vote or left a blank were motivated towards this race there could have been a whole different results.

The criticisms have been heard and the truth of the matter is that in general their needs to be greater participation in the democratic process by all walks of life. Over the summer I heard one Bernie Intern saying “damn Progressives why don’t they go away.” I responded by saying I love the Progressives because at least they are expressing their dissatisfaction with either the Democrats or the Republicans. While, they may not garnish enough votes to obtain statewide office at least they are forcing the Democrats to remember their progressive roots. If a percentage of Martha Abbot’s voters voted instead for Salmon things would have been different, but they hadn’t. The flaws of democracy are abundant but at least there are those who want to see it prosper. No matter who wins this election, I think we all have lessons to learn, what is yours?

Robb Kidd

“The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.” Mohandas K. Gandhi


At December 08, 2006 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Appreciated the thoughts, insights and observations you shared concerning your participation this week as as a
member of the Washington County Recount team as a representative of
the Democratic Party

Thank you for sharing.

At December 08, 2006 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At December 08, 2006 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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