The NC State Board of Elections has set a meeting for Thursday to discuss the "Standards for Determining What Constitutes A Vote And What Will Be Counted As A Vote." (pdf)
Apparently, in an attempt to prevent a scene like Florida 2000, the proposed rules will try to determine "voter intent."
What exactly is a voter’s intent? According to the proposed rules, it can be based on the voter’s pattern in voting. Check out these two sentences on whether a vote is valid:
If the voter has shown consistency in marking choices on the ballot, then those choices of the voter shall be counted so long as it does not result in an overvote for the contest.
If a voter uses random markings without a distinctive or consistent voting pattern so that the voter’s choice cannot be determined, the vote will be considered invalid.
Notice the use of the words "consistency" and "pattern."
If a voter cast her ballot for the candidate of the same party for the first five votes, but on the sixth, make a mark that isn’t discernible, has she demonstrated a pattern of intent to vote for all candidates of the same party?
Can intent be based on a pattern? What about in non-partisan races, how is a pattern established then? Is it a pattern to vote for only female candidates, regardless or party? Is it a pattern to only vote for "common-sounding" last names?
Call me a cynic, but I’m just a little skeptical of some unknown group of people trying to figure out what a person’s thoughts were in casting a ballot. It should be a fairly clear test, either the voter casts a ballot correctly or they don’t. I don’t think "intent" should play any role in voting.