Iraq election (1 day to go) Who will count the votes
SLevinson at law.utexas.edu
Thu Oct 13 20:33:09 PDT 2005
As the Iraqis prepare to vote, I find myself wondering who exactly will
be counting the votes. Considering only our last two presidential
elections, there is some reason to believe that it matters who is in
charge of the voting procedures and counting. So the blunt question is
this: If, say, officials announce that the constitution is ratified
because "only" 60% of the electorate voted against it in the
Sunni-dominated provinces, why should anyone trust them? (Surely we
wouldn't trust an announcement that 70% voted against is the voting
officials were Sunnis from a party opposing the constitution.) There
have been some stories that the recent elections in Afghanistan, which
were given great credence by the Bush Administration, in fact had some
dicey qualities (which, on balance, still should not lead one to disdain
the holding of elections and what seems to be the development of some
kind of real politics in that country). Unless the vote is crystal
clear (as it was, say, in the French rejection of the EU constitution),
won't it quickly become mired in accusations about the validity of the
count? (Imagine, for example, that there had been well-founded
accusations that the 32-29 vote in the New York ratification convention
had been dishonest, that it actually should have been 31-30 against.
Cf. the debate about the third strike in last night's Chicago-LA game.
What if the umpire had been a well-known fan of the Chicago White Sox?
Might not the cry of "kill the umpire" been for real? Bruce Ackerman,
incidentally, in nis new book on the election of 1800, demonstrates
fairly conclusively that Thomas Jefferson played fast and loose with the
Georgia electoral vote (in his favor) inasmuch as the Georgians had not
in fact dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. Had Georgia's votes
not counted, as arguably they should not have, then in fact neither
Jefferson nor Burr would have had a majority of the electoral college
and the House would have been authorized to choose among the top five
candidates, and Ackerman makes a credible argument that the South
Carolina Federalist Charles Coatesworth Pinckney might have become
president instead of Jefferson. Fortunately, Jefferson's hanky-panky
wasn't known at the time.
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