by David Alpert • September 16, 2010 9:35 am
Journalists and residents were frustrated at DC’s Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) and the Maryland Board of Elections for releasing no counts until several hours after polls closed.
We’re accustomed to having results posted on the Web right away and continually updated as precincts come in. However, we shouldn’t be so impatient with BOEE. their job is to get the count right, not to satisfy our thirst for results minutes after polls close.
Sure, it’s fun to see who’s ahead when only 6% of precincts are reporting, but it’s also pretty useless. People want to know what happens before they go to bed, but in the long run, who cares? You wake up in the morning and know who’s elected, unless races go to absentee ballots.
Some polling places opened late in DC on Tuesday, and some poll workers apparently ignored their training and just gave up when a seal wasn’t present they expected to see on voting machines. That’s a failing. Making people wait a few hours isn’t.
Has everyone forgotten the 2008 race, when BOEE initially reported an incorrect total for Precinct 141, between Dupont Circle and U Street, but corrected it within a few minutes. That was such a scandal that Adrian Fenty and Vince Gray both called for formal investigations. the ultimate report blamed speed. Workers were moving too fast, perhaps to try to get results up right away.
There’s a maxim that no project can be simultaneously fast, cheap, and good. You have to pick two. with tight budgets, it’s unlikely BOEE will be lavishly funded, so there’s a general tradeoff between fast and good. when it comes to voting counts, I’ll take good over fast any day.