the Vote” is only half of the story
Wisconsin has been in the national headlines quite a bit this year
with a controversy over collective bargaining legislation bringing thousands of
protesters to the capitol, a group of lawmakers taking up temporary residence
in a neighboring state, and a sudden procedural twist that passed the contested
portion of the bill without the absent legislators. Even the “passing” of the
bill turned out to be a bumpy ride, with legal challenges and countering moves
bringing the state court system and the governor’s office to an increasingly
It was no surprise that this would make the recent state Supreme
Court election (which is normally buried somewhere between the Obituaries and
Horoscopes) into front-page news.
And then the election results came back. Sort of. In a scenario
that is too close for comfort to the Bush-Gore fiasco a few years back, we had
a “too close to call” race with a sudden “oops, look what I found” batch of
votes that made a slim victory into a last-minute defeat.
The expected public outcry has included investigations, accusations,
and no shortage of angry letters to the editor and talk radio chatter. “Oh my
God – 14,000 votes were missing! How could that happen?” – As of this writing,
the outcome is still unclear.
here’s the kicker… 14,000 missing votes is chicken feed next to the real cache
of missing votes.
(Note - I’m using some round numbers here for discussion purposes
since uncontested exact counts are hard to come by these days…)
Let’s say each candidate got roughly 750,000 votes. That gives us
a total vote of about 1.5 million votes. If voter turnout is about 30 percent,
that means that the other 70 percent of eligible voters that did NOT vote comes
to about 3.5 million votes.
So, 14,000 votes? Chump change. If you put that against the
“missing” 3.5 million votes, it’s 4/10ths of a percent.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of this race, it won’t be the result
of the thousands of votes that didn’t get counted. It will be the
result of the millions of votes that didn’t get cast.