If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result, then elections in Arizona are truly insane.
New figures Monday from the Secretary of State's Office show a recount of the vote on Proposition 112 to alter the date to submit initiative petitions confirm that the measure did in fact go down to defeat last month.
But the new result shows it going down by 194 votes. The original count following the Nov. 2 election had it losing by 128 votes.
And Matthew Benson, spokesman for the office, said if the ballots were tallied a third time, the numbers virtually certainly would be different than either of the first two counts -- even with that count being conducted by machine, just the same as the first two. He said it's just the nature of the process.
Arizona law requires a recount of any statewide ballot measure where the margin is 200 or less.
All of the state's 15 counties use ballots that are marked by voters and then read with optical scanners. State law requires the same procedure to be use in a recount.
That means no human interpretation like occurred during the 2000 presidential race in Florida -- the one that gave us the phrase "hanging chad'' -- with election workers looking at punch card ballots and trying to figure out the intent of the voter.
So why the difference?
"These are ballots that are filled out by human beings,'' Benson said. "Sometimes there are stray marks.''
He also said that the requirement for the machine recount doesn't necessarily mean the exact same machines will be used. And a machine with higher sensitivity might pick up a mark that the original did not, or vice versa.
Benson also said that ballots have been stacked together, creating the possibility of ink transferring from the front of one to the back of another.
And then there's the human factor that can result in stray marks.
"You have handled those ballots,'' said Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne.
"Everything in the world has happened to them,'' she explained, including the fact that they get dropped on the floor.
Still, Osborne said she was "absolutely delighted'' that the recount came out virtually the same.
Benson echoed the sentiment.
"We're talking about a fraction of a fraction of a percent,'' he said, putting the recount at 99.996 percent of the original vote.
Proposition 112 would have required that petitions for ballot measures be submitted to the state in early May of election years, two months earlier than the current deadline. There was no active campaign for or against the measure.