Woke up this morning to the following news story from a Columbus Dispatch news podcast:
“Nearly 23,000 ballots could be discarded in Ohio, a USA TODAY, Columbia Journalism Investigations, and Frontline investigation found. In this unprecedented election, seemingly minor problems, such as mismatched signatures, inaccurate birth dates, and other paperwork mistakes could disqualify otherwise eligible votes.” – Jonathan Smith, Columbus Headline News Express 10/19/2020 7:15 AM (00:01:03 into the podcast)
The comment seems to be in reference to the article Ohio election winner could turn on absentee votes declared ineligible (dispatch.com) by Darrel Rowland (@darreldrowland) / Twitter. This article also contains the phrase “otherwise-eligible votes” – but what does that even mean?
Imagine a fairly low-security task such as signing into a website or calling a business on the phone for account information.
You identify yourself, and as part of that they ask you for your birth date, address, or other information to make sure you are really you?
Surely you’ve screwed this up at some point in your life – and rightfully been rejected access to meddle in your own affairs.
But we don’t call these “otherwise eligible logins” – because that’s what we only want eligible logins, not “otherwise eligible”.
Eligible means “Having the right to do or obtain something; satisfying the appropriate conditions.” When you fail to satisfy the appropriate conditions you are “NOT eligible” not “otherwise eligible” or “differently eligible” or “alternatively eligible”, you’re either eligible; or you’re not.
This is yet another example of newspeak in “news speak” that ultimately amounts to propaganda.
Just like not knowing the correct passwords and challenge questions makes one ineligible to log-in to a computer or interact with an organization by phone, not answering the security questions for voting (a much higher security action) should make one “ineligible to vote” until they answer the questions correctly.
Words mean things, and neither the Dispatch editors nor anyone else get to re-define them to bolster their baseless positions. Editors should know how to use dictionaries and resist the temptation to make up terms (no matter how absurd) to suit their personal or organizational political agenda.