Of Recounts and Men

As written about before here and elsewhere, the results of the Controller's contest are extraordinarily close.  It seems inevitable that whichever candidate is behind in a week will request a recount.  Many will excitedly anticipate a repeat of Gore v. Bush.  Unfortunately as the short-lived Proposition 29 recount of just two years ago showed, while drama may be high, excitement may be exceedingly difficult to find.

First California's election law is very different.  There are no automatic recounts.  No matter how close a contest is, you have to pay.  Counties are able to charge based on their expense, which vary significantly.  Candidates get to pick what they want counted.  But for those results to change the outcome of a statewide contest an entire county's results have to have been counted.  And a thousand other little nuances. 

Second voting technology has changed radically since 2000.  There was a true art to manipulating the vote with punchcards (I continue to believe if Al Gore had people who understood the nuances of voting technology he would have been elected).  New optical scan systems are far more reliable.  They are not foolproof.  But the number of times they fail to accurately reflect the voter's intent is radically improved.  The number of precincts it takes to make up even the smallest of margins is more than most expect.  Again there are a thousand nuances.  For example, central count optical scan units tend to be slightly more precise than precinct count optical scan units.  Which did your county use?

Finally, it is all about adding votes to your column, not taking them away from your opponent.  Did your voters mail ballot get rejected because the signature wasn't close enough?  That is a fight you can have. Think a voter whose vote was counted wasn't eligible.  Too bad.  Because their ballot has been put in the pile with all the other one's counted and there is no way to separate it anymore. 

The Legislature is about to go out of session.  Reporters will have little to report.  Staff will have little to do.  Many will need something to occupy their time.  Many will ask questions.  Even more will pontificate answers.  Few will know what they are talking about.