Elections Aren’t Broken, But Could Use Help, Study Says

By: - August 10, 2001 12:00 am

Election administrators from around the country said Thursday (8/9) the nation’s system of voting is “not in crisis” as they presented the findings of their own six-month task force investigation into election reform.

The National Task Force on Election Reform (not to be confused with the National Commission on Federal Election Reform) brought together 37 state, county and city election directors, clerks and auditors to look at what needed to be fixed in the wake of the 2000 elections.

Not surprisingly, their recommendations strongly endorse leaving elections firmly in the control of states and localities but call for a more significant role for the federal government in the form of funding and voting machine standards.

The task force’s election reform report is the third on the topic to be released in the past 10 days. But those who took part in the latest analysis said this one should stand apart from the others.

“This report is not sensational and it’s not exciting. But it’s the one that can make a difference,” said Lance Ward, secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board. “Even if Congress does nothing, even if state legislators do nothing, this report can be used by election administrators as a manual for improving elections.”

Perhaps the most sensational of all election reform topics, voting machines, were not considered culprits by the task force in Florida or elsewhere in the last election. Task force members said all machines including the infamous Palm Beach punch cards can work accurately if they are used correctly and if voters know how to cast their votes so that they are counted and if state recount procedures and vote-counting methods are consistent and strictly followed.

Accusations of civil rights violations during the last election, task force members said, should be thoroughly investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

All three election reform reports have now called for mandatory provisional ballots for voters who are not found on registration rolls and allow for the restitution of voting rights for felons who have completed the terms of their sentences.

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