Election recount stirs discussion of system, right course of action

Posted: Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Richard Nixon has never gotten such good press. His prompt concession in 1960 is being cited again and again as an example of putting country above self. He's become a shining figure at this murky moment. Who'd a-thunk it?

The president who resigned before he could be impeached has always loomed like a specter over the Clinton-Gore era. He set the precedents (impeachment, disbarment) and pioneered the techniques -- modified limited hangouts and cover-ups worse than the offense.

Now it may be Albert Gore's turn to step out of the shadow of Richard Nixon. Or, rather, in this extraordinary case, to follow his lead. It all still depends on the ultimate result in the Recount State, formerly the Sunshine State. We're still waiting for those hand-counted and overseas ballots but, once they're in, the character of Vice President Gore could be tested again.

We hope he passes this time. George W. Bush could be tested, too. Suppose he loses? Will he do the right thing and step aside, or play the recount game elsewhere?

-- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This year's confusion -- more severe than

anything since Dewey didn't quite beat Truman -- might be the impetus we need to effect some changes.

It's ridiculous that, in an age when everything from course registration to stock trades to grocery shopping can be handled without a hitch over the Internet, this country still depends on hole punchers, number two pencils and hand counting as its primary method of balloting.

It's labor intensive, it's fraught with error and the possibility for error, and it's inefficient. It's time for a new way to vote and a new way to tally votes.

The Electoral College system depends on population representation, but in action, the system is counterproductive. Winner-take-all states like Florida award all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the state's popular majority. But the race is so close -- some say under 1,000 votes separate the candidates, some say under 500 -- that neither candidate has a clear majority of Floridians' support. Wouldn't it make more sense to adopt the model presented by Nebraska and Maine, in which the states distribute their electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote?

-- Idaho State Journal, Pocatello

There are voter irregularities in Florida. Irregularities. There's no apparent fraud, but just irregularities. A misunderstanding, of sorts. A confusion on the punch card ballots in one heavily populated Florida county.

So, with our sophisticated recording system in place, a system which allows eligible, registered voters across the country to participate in the election of their president, we have expectations of the proper order of things. What this election proved is that it is a far from perfect system.

Murphy's Law is definitely in effect.

-- The Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

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