Our democratic process has gone down the crapper--but not in the way you might think While Bush and Gore are attempting to wrangle away the presidency down in Florida, here in the Mercury office, we are experiencing similar election problems. As you may know, we've sponsored a contest called "Finish the Face of Suey Chow" in which readers use their artistry to complete the missing half of Willamette Week columnist Suey Chow's face. At 10 am today, Mercury employees began casting their ballots for who had produced the best picture. By noon, with 90 percent of the office votes tallied, Mercury art director Sean Tejaratchi declared Portland resident Jim Lingo the winner. But when editor Wm. Steven Humphrey came into the office at 1pm (hung over, no less) he threw a fit, demanding a recount that would include the votes of all employees. Tejaratchi refused, saying, "He just wants to count and count and recount until he gets the result he wants. When's it going to stop?" At day's end, both parties vowed to take the matter to Mercury publisher Rob Crocker, who didn't show up to work at all because he was too hung over.

When the Mercury office opened this morning, staff receptionist Katie Shimer (who oversees the voting process) announced if the recount didn't happen by 5 pm, then Jim Lingo's entry would be declared the winner. When editor Humphrey rolled into the office at 12:30, he called this announcement "unfair" and an attempt to "enshroud in darkness the will of the people." At 3 pm, the Tejaratchi and Humphrey camps met with publisher Crocker to resolve the matter. Tejaratchi claimed the results of the vote were "definitive" and that a recount would be "selective, arbitrary, unreliable and inevitably biased." Conversely, Humphrey said that "experiencing a hangover is not a crime," and "those suffering such maladies should still be allowed to vote." After an hour and a half of deliberation, Crocker sided with Humphrey and declared a recount could indeed take place. Another vote was held at 5:30 in the conference room, and a final decision is expected tomorrow morning, after the residents of the Beaverton Hills Retirement Home tally up the votes.

At 9:30 am, staff receptionist Katie Shimer--a known supporter of Tejaratchi--declared that since yesterday's vote did not meet the 5 pm deadline, the new votes would not be counted. Editorial news director Phil Busse came out against the announcement saying, "We are very surprised that Katie has made such a rash and precipitous decision." He also declared the editorial department would "pursue legal action"--even though courts rarely, if ever, rule on cases involving inter-office squabbling. Commenting on the proposed legal action, Shimer said, "They can do whatever they want. It is my duty as receptionist to exercise my discretion in denying their request for the recount--as well as their requests for grape-scented hi-liter pens from Office Depot."

Showing up at the surprisingly early hour of 11 am, Humphrey spoke out in an attempt to win over the hearts of the Mercury staff. "Like everyone, I would like to see a winner in the 'Finish the Face of Suey Chow' contest," he said. "However, this is a time to respect every voter and every vote, and to honor the true will of the people." Within the hour, art director Tejaratchi also spoke to the employees: "The outcome of this election will not be the result of opinion, but determined by the votes and by the rules!" Later on in the day, the Humphrey camp filed a complaint with the owner of the company, Tim Keck of the Keck Family Newspaper dynasty, to overrule Shimer's decision. Keck ruled on the complaint from his fishing boat off the coast of Barbados, saying that Shimer "acted outside of her authority," and that "the recount was allowable." Elated by this decision, Humphrey celebrated by leaving work at 2 pm.

Infuriated that Humphrey had taken this matter to the owner, art director Tejaratchi retaliated today by appealing once again to the Mercury's publisher, Rob Crocker. He convinced Crocker that while a recount was indeed allowable, the results of that recount should be denied. So, even though the residents of the Beaverton Hills Retirement Home had not finished tallying up the office's 15 votes, receptionist Shimer announced she would be declaring the winner later on in the day. Upon returning from a three-hour lunch, the Humphrey camp flew into action, once again contacting Keck (who had just bagged a 180 lb. marlin), and asked him to deny Shimer's authority in this matter. As a result of the appeal, Shimer was barred from declaring a winner until "all votes have been counted." This agitated Shimer to such a degree that she refused to restock the copier or answer the phone for the rest of the day.

Though no one was at the office, the rhetoric over the election reached a new level of acrimony today. On advice from Tejaratchi, Mercury designer Jen Davison visited the Beaverton Hills Retirement Home to check on the status of the recount. Upon her return, she made the following comments: "When the employees learn what I've discovered, they're going to ask themselves, 'What in the name of God is going on here?'" She then went on to describe a litany of ballot-counting indiscretions. These included ballots being used as fans, intentional forgery, and over-medicated retirees throwing ballots on the floor, and dancing on them while singing "I love tuna, I love liver, Meow Mix, Meow Mix, please deliver." Jason Diggory, the retirement home's director, responded to the charges by stating, "Look, old people may be incontinent and crazy, but they're not stupid. Why don't you climb down off their ass, and let them finish the fucking recount? Jesus Christ!!" The final results are expected sometime tomorrow.

Today, when Mercury employees showed up at the office to find out the results of the contest, they discovered Humphrey and Tejaratchi wrestling on the floor in a violent, un-homoerotic manner. After separating the two red-faced, crying managers, publisher Rob Crocker made the following inspirational speech: "While it may seem that this contest has torn our office asunder, I ask you to take a look around. Are there tanks rolling down the streets? Are hippies burning their bras outside our post offices? No. The Mercury, while emotionally shaken, still stands. We still put out a paper every Thursday, and we still run up exorbitant long-distance phone bills, even though I've begged you not to. We were a family before, and we'll still be a family when this is finished." At that moment, a representative of the retirement home called in their results. After multiple recounts, it was official: Jim Lingo of Portland, won the "Finish the Face of Suey Chow" contest, and even more surprisingly, it was unanimous. So after all that fighting, cursing and recounting, the winner had been the same all along. However, rather than recognizing the irony of the situation, the employees were too busy arguing over the next inter-office crisis: Grape-scented hi-liter pens.

Ain't democracy grand?