Voting wackiness

The New York Times has an editorial this morning about voting irregularities. This line jumped out at me:

The wild rumors about Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where the official results appeared to include an extra 90,000 votes, were a result of its bizarrely complicated method of posting election results, which is different in even- and odd-numbered years.

I’m sorry — the rules are different in even- and odd-numbered years? Jesus Christ. This isn’t a coherent electoral system. It’s that card game that Captain Kirk makes up on the gangster planet in order to distract his captors.

…Quick Google search later: Fizzbin! Here are the “rules”:

Each player gets 6 cards except the player on the dealer’s right, who gets 7.
* The second card is turned up, except on Tuesday.
* Two Jacks is 1/2 a Fizzbin.
* Three Jacks equal a Slark, which means you’re disqualified.
* Another Jack is good, otherwise you’d need a King and a duce except at night when you’d need a Queen & a 4.
* If you didn’t get 3 Jacks, if you got a King, you would get another card except when it’s dark when you’d have to give it back.

…whoops! A reader who has apparently had more coffee this morning than your humble host points out: “When did we last have a presidential election in an odd-numbered year? Seems to me the answer is ‘Never.’ That would make the different rules irrelevant…”

…though given our electoral system’s complete lack of standardization nationally — different rules, different machines, etc., all at the whim of local officials — I still think there’s something to the “Fizzbin” analogy…

* * *

Meanwhile, they’re still coming up with inventive approaches to the process of democracy in Florida:

Florida, the state that decided the 2000 presidential race with hanging chads and botched ballot designs, added a page to its history of electoral quirkiness this week: a city council race that was decided by a coin toss.

G. P. Sloan, 77, and Richard Flynn, 75, each received 689 votes on Nov. 2. Two recounts did not determine a winner, so the candidates and three dozen supporters gathered on Friday in the community center of this town of 4,400 residents, 25 miles west of Orlando.

“This is a very unusual occurrence in this day and age when we have such sophisticated mechanisms to vote on, such as a touch-screen computerized voter system,” Mayor Connie Fleetwood said. “We’ve come down to a coin toss.”

Later, Ms. Fleetwood said she would have preferred a special election over the flip. “I think it’s so primitive,” she said.