Oh, the Bridgeport recount, co-sponsored by the Connecticut Post and the Connecticut Citizen Audit Coalition. It’s big news. We can read about it in the paper. We can follow it online. We can even head on over to City Hall Annex and watch the recounting process, but since I’m no longer paid to pop into government buildings, I opted out of a visit this week.
The recount, which was prompted by Bridgeport’s massive screw-up on Election Day (we ran out of ballots and everything went downhill from there) started on Monday and will end this evening. The CT Post, which published a Nov. 21 editorial demanding that the ballots be recounted, requested the ballots under the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act and partnered with the Connecticut Citizen Audit Coalition and various other voter advocacy groups, which are actually conducting the recount.
There’s not much new information on the progress of the recount this morning (the CT Post reported only a paragraph about the recount in today’s paper and the paper’s Election 2010 blog was last updated two days ago). Then again, counting more than 20,000 ballots isn’t very exciting and there’s probably not much to report. But on Sunday? Oh, the headlines we’ll have.
I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this recount. I don’t think there’s any doubt that a recount of the ballots is a necessary thing. Bridgeport screwed up big time on election night, and when it came time to count the votes, poll workers were stressed, sleepless and harried by representatives from every big campaign while Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz urged them to count faster so that her office could certify the election’s outcome. Who can do a thorough job under those circumstances? No one.
On the one hand, I’m proud of my local newspaper for taking a stand , FOIing the ballots and organizing a recount. We have the best Freedom of Information laws in the country and they’re not used as often or as well as they should be. So, seeing my local newspaper use the Connecticut FOI laws to organize and sponsor a recount of our city’s ballots is kind of a thrill.
On the other hand, something about this recount feels wrong. I haven’t posted about it this week because I can’t really put a finger on what it is that’s bothering me, but I suppose that I don’t like the idea of a non-governmental agency co-sponsoring a recount. Lennie Grimaldi blogged about the recount on Wednesday, wondering aloud to the Internet if the CT Post wasn’t just trying to sell papers by co-sponsoring a recount. His take was that yes, the city should recount the ballots, but no, the CT Post shouldn’t be organizing said recount.
Grimaldi has a point. The CT Post is, like news organizations across the country, trying to sell papers. And what a glorious way of selling papers this is! It’s better than inserts, or free offers or pictures of puppies. This is actual, huge, big local news. And I think that’s awesome.
But I also think that the CT Post might have overstepped its bounds by actually co-sponsoring the recount. Should the paper be shaming the city into a recount? Yes. Should the pressure exerted by the Fourth Estate force the city to recount? Absolutely. Should they actually be sponsoring the recount? No. In an ideal world, the city should be doing it.
But as was proved on Nov. 2, we don’t live in an ideal world. And if the city won’t recount the ballots, someone should.