At the moment this is being written, it looks like we will have our eyes punched out with apple corers while we all run up and down the stairs with cheese graters in our pants. No, correction: It looks like we will have a recount. Just as enjoyable. If you're a new resident to the state, we had a recount in 2008, when the entire election came down to a bunch of people in a room staring at pieces of paper and reading minds. Like this:
"This ballot has every possible oval filled out, but there's lines drawn through all the names except one, and it says I AM SO SORRY I MEANT TO NOT UNVOTE FOR FRANKMAN. Are we agreed this ballot shall go in the pile marked 'People whose ATM PIN is 1111, and they still forget it every time'? Motion is carried. Next ballot."
Here's why we have these recounts:
1. Despite all the ads, the events, the fundraisers, the endorsements, most people have their minds made up months beforehand, except for about 2,547 people who decide every election. It would be nice if they would all move to Motley, Minn., a centrally located city that could stand a nice boost. Upside? Candidates could avoid overstaying their welcome, and concentrate on wooing flinty, suspicious Motleyites. Downside? Candidates may overpromise to get the votes, and after a few years we find that the state capital has been moved to Motley, and 78 percent of the state budget is devoted to Motley improvements, including a 900-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan with searchlight eyes in a head that rotates 360 degrees day and night, and a light-rail system that stops at everyone's house.
A small price to pay for avoiding another recount, perhaps except that you know the final vote would be 1,272-1,274, which would trigger a recount, and it would all hinge on a ballot where someone crossed out "DAYTON" and wrote "MACY'S."
2. Many ballots will be challenged because people do not fill out the oval with the provided pen. They tape a Sharpie to their elbow and attempt to fill in the ovals while they had the hiccups. When I moved I filled the ovals with the care usually associated with a circumcision conducted in a hospital being shelled by advancing troops. Oh, it seemed ridiculous to think we'd have a recount, but if there is one, you don't want your ballot held up for all to see, with some state official saying, "Look at this. Just look. He went outside the lines. It is possible his Iowa Basics results were skewed by poor oval-management skills, and his entire permanent record is in error. We have begun an investigation."
3. Some ballots will be challenged because people feel the need to write additional messages. Last time around someone had a lark and wrote in "Lizard People," a reference to fizzy-headed nutwads who believe human civilization is controlled by scaly bipeds who live underground and are responsible for all our ills, including the premature expulsion of David Hasselhoff from "Dancing With the Stars." This is ridiculous, frivolous, and an abasement of the precious franchise that distinguishes Western democracies from autocratic regimes whose elections are a parody of democratic ideals. Also an obvious diversion from the real menace, the Moth People, who live in the clouds. WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!
In the end, we have to trust the people who make the difficult decisions about which ballots to count, and which to accept. We will have a governor who has the mandate of the people, even if "the people" ends up being John Torgerson of 123 Fake St. in Verndale, Minn. It will be a long and gruesome process, but it will be transparent, and we will accept it.
Unless Bush or Gore is declared the winner. Then we might have some additional questions.