Tuesday’s election passed without any major incidents, with the popular vote and the projected electoral college vote going to President George W. Bush. Many had feared voting irregularities or recounts would occur, but instead the situation was quite different. In fact, there are many aspects of the election that are quite laudable.
A record 113 million Americans voted in this election, representing 51.8 percent of eligible voters. This is an impressive number, partly thanks to voter registration organizations registering record numbers to vote and election campaigns for busing voters to the polls. Such impressive turnout was reflected in Monroe County’s turnout of 80 percent of the electorate. Increased voter attendance is a positive trend that should continue both in Monroe County and the rest of the nation.
Election ballots also raised cause for concern. In 2000, butterfly ballots with sometimes difficult to understand choices confused voters. Also, punch card ballots caused the infamous “hanging and dimpled chad” issues in the Florida recount. This year many of these issues were addressed by using simple optical scan ballots which can detect errors in the vote immediately, allowing the voter to correct their errors on the spot. These ballots are a much better alternative.
News agencies, especially cable and network news channels, blasted for predicting states incorrectly and even for influencing the vote on election day in 2000, were more patient in announcing their predictions. Most were extremely careful about forecasting votes for any candidate and CNN went as far as to make their final decision about Ohio “Too Close to Call” rather than for Bush or Senator John Kerry.
Kerry must also be applauded for conceding the election in a timely fashion. Although there was a small possibility that a count of the provisional ballots in Ohio may have produced enough votes to win the state for Kerry, he chose instead to make a more gracious decision. Such a decision has prevented the nation and the state of Ohio from having to experience the same problems that plagued Florida in 2000, allowing the country to focus on the future.
The election results show what we have known for a while – the nation is almost evenly divided, with 3.6 million more voting for Bush than Kerry. In such a close election, Bush must always keep in mind the 49 percent of the nation that did not vote for him and remember that he should make efforts to reach out to is to every American. Bush should be commended for remarking yesterday in his victory speech that he will indeed do just that.