|Part Two, my little THOUGHT EXPERIMENT:|
All else is equal. The voters were equally stupid or not, etc. There is only one change in the situation that resulted in those thousands of lost votes.
The only difference this time is that when a special stylus is thrust through the hole in the number one, presidential, line, the machine is designed, when working correctly, not to remove a chad from a hole but to stamp on the ballot, with an inked stamp, either "GORE" or "BUSH".
And then the machine scans the ballots, registering the name "BUSH" or "GORE" by detecting and reading the ink stamped on the ballot.
Because the inked stamp pads on the first line on some voting machines have been so frequently used, they don't work perfectly. (The inconsistency of the readability (by the machine) of the printed name has been noted in the past, and so in municipal elections that line isn't even used.)
Unfortunately, although in most elections this problem doesn't affect the outcome, a very close presidential election is held while these imperfect stamp-pad machines are still in use.
It turns out that thousands of voters stick the stylus through all the lines thinking they are participating in their most sacred citizenly rite, not to mention right, but something untoward occurs.
The stamp pads don't pick up much ink on the first line, the one for president. In some few cases, not enough ink to be read by the machine.
So the machines' tabulation says that 500% more of these citizens made no presidential choice than did the citizens anyplace else.
But this is highly unlikely! And the citizens learn what has happened as they tried to vote, and are upset.
So in spite of their being ridiculed and insulted and mocked as stupid and uneducated and senile, the citizens say they want the ballots viewed by human eyes to see whether there WAS a stamp saying "GORE" or "BUSH" on their ballots, as they intended there to be, but that it was merely more lightly inked. Visible, the way, say, the third or fourth impression you make with your own address stamp is, but just not as dark and bold as is the stamped address on the first impression -- and not dark and bold enough to be scanned and counted by the machine.
But hey, open your eyes and look!, they say. There is the proof right there on their ballots that they voted for their man! Look! "GORE". "BUSH".
Faint, but visible enough so that their effort, their INTENTION to vote for their man can be discerned by a bipartisan group of human beings.
Sure, there will be disputes. Some of the ballots will have inky smudges that could have gotten there accidentally, or a bit of dirt, or four letters will be there, but which four letters are they, it's not clear. Those must be discarded, of course.
I believe that if what we had were not bulges indicating GORE or BUSH, but faint, yet legible to the human eye, letters spelling out the name, there would be more sympathetic understanding of the distress of those who feel they voted, and that their votes are there on the ballots for the human eye to detect, and yet they are to be ignored... and to add insult to injury, those unfortunate voters are treated with contempt, accused of being stupid, senile, of trying, by getting their ballots counted, to steal an election.
In principle, I see no difference between a bulge agreed on to be there by bipartisan witnesses and a faintly stamped "GORE" or "BUSH".
With more sensitive technology, faint ink could be read by a machine, and bulges could be read by a machine, thus answering the objections of those who feel machines should do the scanning.
So what is so ridiculous, aside from the terminology used to describe it, about a bulge? Would ink, legible to the human eye but unreadable by the machine in use, be ridiculous?
Why are those citizens contemptible?