The Epistemological Fog of Elections


A candidate of the Constitution Party (slogan: "God. Family. Republic.") almost won a state House seat in Montana–until the state's Supreme Court decided, after a one-vote victory for Constitution Party man Rick Jore in the first count, and a straight 1,559-1,559 tie with Democrat Jeanne Windham in a recount, to throw out one or more of seven ballots with apparent "overvotes" for both Jore and Republican Jack Cross and give the seat to Windham.

Here's how it played out, from a New York Times account:

At issue in the House race were seven ballots that had ovals filled in for both Mr. Cross and Mr. Jore. Election officials awarded those ballots to Mr. Jore, as did a recount board.

Ms. Windham, a businesswoman, appealed to District Court in Lake County. Judge Kim Christopher upheld the decision of the recount board, arguing that otherwise the race would go to Ms. Windham, for whom none of the disputed ballots were cast.

After Governor Martz broke the tie by appointing Mr. Jore to the seat, Ms. Windham appealed to the Montana Supreme Court, and the seven contested ballots were driven to the court by a state Highway Patrol officer.

In its brief order, the Supreme Court declared "one or more" of the contested ballots invalid, a move that broke the tie in favor of Ms. Windham.

"I'm disappointed," said Mr. Jore, a businessman in Charlo. "I felt the ballots in question were clear." He added, "They obviously intended to vote for me." Mr. Jore said three of the voters whose ballots were in question called him and said they had intended to vote for him.

Just goes to show, when it comes to elections, you never can tell, and every vote counts, or sometimes doesn't.