Thursday, January 20, 2011

50 Years Ago Today

This is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's inauguration. On that day a superb orator gave his only inaugural address. Three days earlier the outgoing President Eisenhower gave his farewell address, and warned a nation of the danger inherent in our growing "military industrial complex". I recommend listening to these. Listen to these leaders at the dawn of the tumultuous 1960s. Listen for the similarities and the contrast.

President Eisenhower's Farewell Address
President Kennedy's Inaugural Address

As important historically as these two event were, I want to take you back to November 2, 1960. After the polls closed father took me down to the polling station as they started the vote count. The ballot boxes were opened, and more than one person looked at each ballot as the votes were counted. We did not stay for the whole count, but I saw enough to see democracy in action. I saw people insuring that each vote was counted, and counted fairly. Fairness was more important than result, and fairness was more important than speed.

By the time I voted the count was being done mechanically, and the results were provide to the nation quickly. Something is lost in the almost instant results. No longer can a 10 year old watch neighbors taking responsibility for the continuation of our form of government.

In addition the controversies and fraud of the 2000 and 2004 elections would not have happened with the slow methodical count. I do not claim that our elections were fair prior to electronic voting. Our history is filled with denying groups the vote be it race, economic standing, or gender. But, without mechanical counts there would have been no hanging chads in 2000. Without electronic voting there would have been no possibility for "man in the middle" fraud in 2004.

I believe that this country needs to get back to 100% paper ballots and 100% hand counting. I believe that the majority of accessibility issues could be addressed while still providing a hand counted ballot. I believe that these steps would strengthen our election process.

I hope you spend about a half hour listening to the two addresses linked above.

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