Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Letter to legislators

Presented below for readers' consideration is a letter I sent to my legislators about a revote. Note that I have suggested IRV to solve the margin of error problem. Please contact your legislators about these issues.
Dear Legislator:

Many people think of the current dispute over the governor's race as a partisan issue, and many are treating it as one. But it is more than that. It goes to the central meaning of our republican democracy. I am deliberately confusing terms and using lower case here.

In truth, if the shoe were on the other foot, Ms. Gregoire would likely be making the same claims that Mr. Rossi is now making. You simply can not have more votes than voters. You can't count 300 ballots without verifying signatures and then say that a 129 vote margin is reliable. More important, from a sociological standpoint, Ms. Gregoire can not "heal" the state, as much as she may have good faith intentions to do so, when it is the legitimacy of her apparent victory that is in doubt. This is akin to hiring a junkyard dog to watch the henhouse.

To suggest that Gregoire won the election without any illegality or fraud is to miss the point. The central issue, of which the nation got a taste in 2000 from the Florida debacle, and which we have experienced again here in Washington, is the efficacy of the winner-take-all election system when the margin of error exceeds the point spread.

To be clear, I am talking about the statistical margin of error. The lawyers will be arguing the actual alleged errors in court in connection with the Republican complaint. But they are merely arguing over examples of what I am talking about. We have seen that no system is perfect. Under Secretary Reed's supervision we got three different vote totals. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- Secretary Reed's claims that the counts were as
accurate as can be we have a serious problem.

Why should the last count be any more reliable than the first one or the second one? Because we found more ballots? But that misses the point as well. What is to say that a public vote on November 2nd is any more reflective of the public mind than a vote on December 7th, or any other date? We are talking about a few hundred votes here, or perhaps a few thousand. Either way we are talking about a 10th of a percentage point in determining whether we are led by a left-leaning or right-leaning governor.
This is less than a mandate to be sure.

In my estimation, the only way to avoid 4 years of crippled leadership is to have another vote. And the only way to assure that the margin of error does not undermine the principles of democracy is to adopt a preference voting system for the revote.


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