Image through GNU license/Jonathunder
About frickin' time.
I'm not one to rush the election system. After 2000, I became a disciple of the "take all the time you need to get to the true result" camp. This delay, however, has been excessive. It's June 30 -- almost eight months since the votes were cast in Minnesota. In those eight months, the residents of Minnesota have been served by one Senator, Amy Klobuchar, when they've needed two. Beyond that, we've been one senator down in the Democratic party since January, too -- and there have been a few times when Mr. Franken's vote, and voice, would have been extremely valuable. I'm sure the GOP has felt the same way about Sen. Coleman.
How long should it take to settle an election? Why is voting such an inexact science? It seems simple enough, doesn't it? But fairness often requires complexity. It requires provisions. It requires absentee ballots, hand-counting, re-counts, hand-wringing, and, apparently, lawyers and 61.3 million dollars. The question before us, again, is whether there's a time at which you must call a full stop and go with the winner you have. How long can a state go without a senator before they're being more poorly served than they would be by having the wrong man in office? In the Franken case, I think we've butted right up against the limit.
In a way, this is a reminder of how broken our election system really is. My iPod can pinpoint my location on a map within a few yards; my Blackberry brings me real-time updates of worldwide news; my computer could probably cook me breakfast if I asked it nicely. I'm pretty sure any of these devices could have been configured to count votes in Minnesota with as much accuracy as this 238 day process has provided us. In fact, I think perhaps my vacuum cleaner could've done it. For a country that runs on high-tech devices, our low-tech solutions for voter registration, vote counting and re-counting, and even for establishing what a vote means, seem to leave quite a bit up for debate.
In another way, though, maybe there's a bright side to this. We're a country willing to wait for real results instead of rushing to those that seem most convenient. We're willing to spend $11 million on a recount. And we're (finally) being rewarded with the Senator that the people of Minnesota have chosen.
Welcome, Mr. Franken.