“Election Livestreaming: Making Reality TV Really Count”
By Gabrielle M. Etzel

Gabrielle Etzel Campaign Trail, Community, Governance, History, Pennsylvania, People, Political Analysis, Politics, Texas Leave a Comment

Gabrielle M. Etzel is a recent graduate of Grove City College with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Economics. She is a freelance Political Analyst, Writer, and Contributing Editor to the  Yonkers Tribune.

PITTSBURGH, PA and WACO, TX — June 2, 2022 —  Celebrity candidates, contentious primaries, less than one tenth of a percent voter margin: who ever said midterm elections were dull?

With the retirement of Republican Senator Pat Toomey, both CNN and The Hill identify Pennsylvania’s Senate seat as the most likely to flip in the 2022 midterm election. 

With his strong progressive track-record, Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. John Fetterman squarely won his party’s primary on May 17. The nomination of his Republican challenger, however, is still up for grabs.

As of Friday, May 27, Trump-endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz was in the lead by 921 votes—a margin of 0.07%—over former hedge fund manager David McCormick. Although Oz has declared himself the presumptive nominee, PA election law requires an automatic recount within margins of less than 0.5%, and the official results must be made public by Noon on June 8.

But wait. There’s more.

Approximately 10,000 mail-in, absentee, and provisional ballots have yet to be counted. A significant number of the uncounted ballots come from both Allegheny and Lehigh counties, two of the most populous and purple counties in the state.

Hold on. It gets better.

Another 860 mail-in ballots are in contention due to missing dates on the signature line. Although these ballots were signed and delivered within the timeframe, the missing dates are a technical loophole that could invalidate these votes. 

Ready for the explosive twist?

Since PA is a closed-party primary, it is impossible to know whether all remaining ballots will influence the Republican race, but those are odds McCormick is desperate to take.

McCormick has fared significantly better in mail-in ballots compared to Oz, who has performed better with in-person voters. McCormick’s legal team, along with Leigh Chapman, Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, are leading the dispute to continue counting all mail-in ballots.

Elections should be about the issues, not the rules. 

The democratic process should elicit passion from both sides, but fighting over the rules of the game isn’t the type of drama that makes elections more interesting. It’s what undermines an institutional order.

In a bi-partisan national poll from December 2021, 51% of Americans fear the “extinction” of American democracy. Of likely midterm 2022 voters aged 18-29, only 21% are secure in the survival of democracy for future generations.

So, if elections are going to be this dramatic, why not use the drama to promote election integrity? Why not pop a bag of popcorn and livestream the counting of ballots?

Livestreaming the ballot counting process is one proposed reform that is supported by Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, which could possibly minimize tensions over the recount in PA over the next week.

Ballot counting usually happens behind closed doors, inviting at the very least the appearance of impropriety. In some extreme cases, such as Detroit in the 2020 election, voters are barred from watching the counting process.

According to the Foundation for Government Accountability, 60% of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents supported the measure if it will help ensure accountability of election officials. In the same poll, when phrased as a means of collecting tangible evidence of voter fraud, 64% of all respondents supported livestreaming the ballot counting process with free access to citizens. 

In PA specifically, 67% of likely 2022 voters supported livestreaming the ballot counting process to ensure election integrity.

It’s not too late to implement this reform for the PA primary recount in the most contentious districts, and it’s certainly not too late to make livestreamed ballot counting a feature of the general election in November across the nation.

Let’s make the grave reality of election integrity into reality television—literally. If it can   contribute to reviving trust in democratic procedure, then livestreaming has my vote.

Gabrielle Etzel“Election Livestreaming: Making Reality TV Really Count”
By Gabrielle M. Etzel

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