The Nov. 6 election went smoothly in the Tri-County Area.
Then why are many among us so uneasy about elections?
Florida provides part of the answer.
The Sunshine State has the most open state and local governments in the country, thanks to laws that almost ban secrecy in government.
Yet Florida, going back to the 2000 “hanging chads” Bush-Gore Presidential election, displays election tallying that ranks somewhere between chicanery and incompetence.
Some of the Florida “cheating” was actually stupidity. Boxes marked “election ballots” were dug up from closets in the days after the election. “Fraud!”?
Well, no. Those boxes had contained ballots being shipped to election precincts. When the voting was done, they were refilled with staplers, pens, tally booklets and other election supplies to be stored until the next election, then spotted en route — and gullible people, reporters included, jumped to conclusions.
Happily, Pennsylvania’s Nov. 6 elections were settled by decisive margins, rendering any irregularities irrelevant in determining their outcomes.
But what about 2020?
Pennsylvania still has not replaced its digital-only voting machines with versions that produce hard-copy paper trails, strengthening the process of verifying the integrity of the vote.
There are other ways to improve voting. Oregon and Washington vote by mail, using paper ballots. No long lines, no hassles about producing photo ID cards because that is all handled at registration.
Many states allow early voting, further reducing the Election Day crunch at precincts, and lessening the effect of occasional bad weather on voter turnout.
But change in Pennsylvania will not happen unless voters demand it. Too many of us are still cowed into polite chitchat when we encounter elected politicians. We act as though they are somehow above us. “Nice to see you!” we chorus, instead of, “Hey, while we are talking — when are you going to improve the voting process?”
The 2020 elections will be on us soon. Given the increasing discord and outright hatred for political opponents voiced by too many extremists among us, we cannot afford the slightest doubt about the integrity of our voting process.
That hatred echoes the “You are traitors!” viciousness of the 1840s and 1850s that made the Civil War inevitable. Today, we are all Americans — but you wouldn’t know it by the hostility on social media.
Let’s get new voting machines and methods in place by the 2019 general elections that feature mostly local races, so we can have credible test runs before 2020 is upon us.
— Denny Bonavita