Editorial: Other election winners
The candidates who gained or retained office weren’t the only victors in Tuesday’s election. Here are some others who deserve mention for their strong showings:
– Election officials: The massive problems predicted for Election Day didn’t materialize, at least not on the scale some had feared. Give part of the credit to early voting, which helped spread out the process over weeks as an estimated 135 million ballots were cast. More importantly, county election officials, monitors and volunteer poll workers were prepared to handle the heavy turnout. There were reports of random issues in some areas, such as the Faith man who was told he had already voted. But ballot problems were nowhere near as extensive as in 2004, when North Carolina had instances of votes eaten by computers, lost ballots and lengthy disputes over counts for state agriculture commissioner and superintendent of public instruction. While comfortable margins of victory helped minimize the impact of any irregularities, good planning and coordination kept disruptions to a minimum.
– Libertarian Party: Garnering 3 percent of the vote in North Carolina’s gubernatorial race might not seem like cause for celebration. But in reaching that mark, Libertarian candidate and Duke professor Michael Munger helped assure that his party will retain a spot on the state ballot through 2012 without the need for a petition drive. That’s a major lift for Libertarians, as was Munger’s inclusion in one of the gubernatorial debates. It’s also noteworthy that Christopher Cole, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, drew 3 percent of the vote. That was considerably stronger than the showing of Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, who pulled about 1 percent of the nationwide count. Realistically, third-party candidates don’t have the financial support or extensive political networks necessary to stage competitive campaigns in the near future ó or perhaps ever. But in an electorate willing to buck tradition, they can push the political envelope and influence the agenda.
– Election sign makers: We have only observational evidence to support this thesis, but it appeared as if this election season produced an especially heavy crop of campaign signs springing up along roadside rights-of-way and in front yards. Unfortunately, the campaign sign industry may have been stimulated by instances of election-sign thievery, but that’s another issue. Election signs are a traditional form of political speech, and they shouldn’t be uprooted out of partisan spite. Now that the citizens have had their say at the polls, however, we’d urge candidates and canvassers to be as diligent in pulling their signs up as they were in staking them out.