Ballot Writing

There’s a recount going on in the Minnesota Senatorial race between Norman Coleman (R) and Alan Franken (D). The vote highlights the inadequacy of much of the US voting system – the variability of the voting methods used means that if this was a science experiment they’d have to give a margin of error. That’s fine in a poll, but not in the actual election, so the theoretical ‘best’ result would be a do-over (a race I suspect Coleman would win).

Anyway, both sides are challenging ballots because of assorted flaws. Perhaps the most impressive challenge is from the Coleman camp, who have challenged a ballot because it contained the text “Thank you for counting my vote!“. That might technically be grounds for rejecting it, but morally I’d say not, especially as I’ve written the same thing on my ballot before now (and having counted ballots as well, I wouldn’t have hesitated to let it through).

Spring’s Lease

My daughter goes to a local Brownie pack where my aunt is Brown Owl and Claire is a helper. We found out yesterday that one of the Brownies had died after collapsing at the weekend. It doesn’t seem to have really registered with Lauren, as she didn’t particularly know the girl, but obviously the adults are quite upset, and I’ve found it to be rather unsettling too. I’m sure you don’t need much prompting for this, but might I suggest an extra hug for your kids when you get home tonight.

Man of Honour

From the BBC:

A reservist, Darrel Vandeveld was called up as a military lawyer after 9/11 and served in Iraq, Bosnia and Africa.

In 2007, he became a prosecutor for the military commissions which tried terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, a role he took enthusiastically.

“I went down there on a mission and my mission was to convict as many of these detainees as possible and put them in prison for as long as I possibly could,” he told the BBC.

“I had zero doubts. I was a true believer.”

But his zeal did not last long.

When he arrived, he says he found the prosecutor’s office in chaos, with boxes scattered around the floor, files disorganised, evidence scattered in different places and no clear chain of command.

And more seriously, he soon discovered that defence lawyers were not receiving information which could help clear their clients, including evidence that suspects had been “mistreated” in order to secure confessions.