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Tales from the Actual Voting Process

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My name is Rob J King. I recently served as the Clerk of Elections for the United States 2006 (mid-term) elections (Pinellas Park, FL), held November 7th.

Contrary to the Voting Irregulariities of the 2000 Presidential Elections (the infamous "hanging chads") in the state of Florida, this Electoral Process went remarkably smoothly.

All Voting Machines were fully operational by 7:15 am (polls opened at 7 am), a healthy voter turn-out occurred, and all sides of the political spectrum were represented. Democrat support elected a good incumbent senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), the man who with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) sought to maintain due process of law in well-regulating the implementation of the the recent Military Commissions Act of 2006 (aka "Torture Bill"). Republican support also similarly elected a good GOP Governor, Charlie Crist, a man who will bring financial prosperity to the state of Florida, while also serving as a moderate voice in issues of Hispanic immigration. Truly, the political spectrum was well-represented.

Technically, the Voting Process also went remarkably smoothly. Some concern had been expressed about a "technologically-driven" Voting Process (i.e. the actual vote tabulation being stored primarily on computer chips), but at 7:45 pm (approximately), the numbers all "crunched." The written copy of Voter Turn-out precisely matched the computer print-out. Victory for Technology!

Looking back on this process, I am THANKFUL. Having worked in South Africa (1993) for three months, I know first-hand how vitriolic the political process can be in developing nations. In that setting, as South Africa was approaching its first truly democratic elections (1994 in which President Nelson Mandela was elected), political parties (black and white) had been pitted against each other in such a show of raw force that car bombings, politically-motivated violence, etc. were the increasing norm during the year leading up to the South African Election of 1994. Fortunately, in 1994, the actual day of the polls, little political violence occurred on that historic day in South Africa. Unfortunately, however, unlike our own highly regulated Voting Process (complete with Video-Taping of the transfer of Voting Materials to the Clerk through a Security-monitored Elections Building!), people literally had to stand in line for an entire day just to vote in South Africa.

Thus, although our current Electoral System has its flaws ("to err is human, to forgive is divine . . ."), when compared to other parts of the world, the checks & balances on power of our American Experiment in Democratic Rule are nonetheless still functioning quite smoothly. Yes, people will try to manipulate the political process (legally and illegally). Yes, there will be unexpected personnel and technical "glitches" (power outages, Voting Macines needing callibration to function correctly), but by and large, the American Republic, a Nation founded on "rule of the people, by the people and for the people" nonetheless went over remarkably smoothly. Afterwards, all I could do was want to sing that old 1980's Patriotic song, Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." Born in the U.S.A, born in the U.S.A. . . .

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