If democracy were a religion, voting would be the sacrament.
I grew up in "The First Free-Range Organic Christian Church of Homer." Sundays brought a message, fellowship and a line of repentant souls taking Communion -- a remembrance of sacrifice.
The first time I cast my vote, it felt similar. The blood shed for my right to stand at a flag-draped table and make my choice part of the collective wasn't lost on me. I had one of those "Come to Jesus" moments and haven't missed an election since.
Unlike Christ, the idea of democracy never shed a drop of blood but actual patriots have. The same can be said of the suffragettes. Unlike the sacrament celebrated in religious ritual, elections are not supposed to be faith-based. The framers came up with myriad checks and balances to ensure a credible process.
When we vote, the agreement we make is to support the outcome, even if we don't like it. But we only do that because we have confidence in the process. Victorious candidates and their leadership can only be ordained if people -- winners and losers -- know their votes counted.
The election on Tuesday was nothing short of outrageous. At press time, we understand that more than half the reviewed precincts didn't have enough ballots for voters. People were unable to vote even after, in some cases, making stops at three and four polling places. The law requires the city to print enough ballots for 70 percent of registered voters. The actual turnout this week was in the vicinity of 27 percent. So where were tens of thousands of unused ballots?
At this point, we don't know how many people were turned away and we may never know.
Dan Sullivan and his attorney, Dennis Wheeler, believe the fact that actual citizens couldn't vote doesn't really matter because the margins of victory were so large.
So these two public employees -- our employees -- don't see a big problem with voters being denied their rights? I wonder what it would take for them to see a problem.
I know. If Sullivan had been denied his right to be mayor, he'd be screaming bloody murder.
Anyone who thinks we don't need a more transparent process because his or her candidate won is a partisan hack. Anyone who believes the integrity of the election is a "fringe" issue is in effect mocking those who died earning or protecting our right to vote.
If only this were the great exception.
In 2004, more votes were cast than the official statewide totals. In George W. Bush's case, the district-by-district tally was 292,267, but his official total was 190,889, a difference of 101,378 votes.
In that year's U.S. Senate race, Lisa Murkowski received 226,992 votes district by district, but her official total was 149,446, a difference of 77,546 votes.
There has never been an adequate explanation of the fact that also in 2004, 20 of 40 state House districts had more ballots cast than they had registered voters. Turnout in 16 of those districts was more than 200 percent.
We're still using the same Diebold AccuVote machines that California decertified for a pattern of glaring anomalies.
Do I smell the mud flats at low tide? Yes. Do I know what the source of the stench is? No.
What I know most certainly is this: Voting is a sacred right. The integrity of elections is essential to democracy. Anything less is blasphemy.
I'd rather lose twice in an honest election than win in one without credibility.
As Americans, it is our responsibility to hold our leaders accountable. We do that by voting. In the end, that's the only way we can hope to ensure the integrity of our democracy and the legitimacy of the government we are asked to follow.
We need a thorough, arm's-length audit of Tuesday's election. That will require reconciling reported election results by reviewing summary reports signed by poll workers with detailed accounting of total ballots received, cast, spoiled and left over. Then that can be compared to the poll tapes, signed voter registries, ballot receipts and a partial hand recount.
Some say re-running the city election would be too expensive and wouldn't change the outcome. I say the cost of an election in which we know that people were denied the most fundamental right of citizenship, though not measured in dollars, is far greater.
Is it too much to ask that each of our votes, regardless of our politics or beliefs, be counted?
Shannyn Moore can be heard weekdays from 6 to 9 p.m. on KOAN 1020 AM and 95.5 FM radio. Her weekly TV show can be seen Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. statewide on ABC affiliates KYUR Anchorage, KATN Fairbanks and KJUD Juneau.