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November, 2000 News Archive

11/29/2000 "Ore. Vote-by-Mail Delivered, But It Wasn't Letter-Perfect" (Washington Post)

Unfortunately, this appears to have been a popular change in Oregon so is probably there to stay, and may encourage other states to follow their lead. I donít like it because of the excessive delays in vote counting, and the opportunity for fraud.

Sent by VIP with comment: "Oregon claims an 80% turnout rate and yet, as the Post reports, ĎThousands of voters received two ballots. Some received none and inundated election offices with last-minute calls or visits.í"

11/26/2000 "Itís Not In The Numbers" (The Washington Post)

Sent by VIP with comment: "Norm Ornstein makes a good case against no-fault absentee voting -- a voting peril ignored in the current Election 2000 debate."

Indeed he does. Unfortunately: "Election officials, understandably, encourage absentee voting. Besides offering the hope of higher turnouts, it cuts down on long voter lines, and--most important for the financially pressed county and municipal officials who actually stage elections--it reduces the amount of voting equipment that needs to be moved into polling places and the number of people needed to oversee the process." My response, however, is that the same effects can be achieved instead by extending election day to a three-day period as I propose. I agree that "the absentee ballot has expanded far beyond its original purpose. We should restore it to its traditional status--as an occasional exception to voting in person, rather than as a permanent substitute."

11/21/2000 "Some Illinois legislators want to replace punch-card voting" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

This is the best idea Iíve heard yet: "Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said last week that the Palm Beach fiasco will bolster his previous proposal for avoiding ballot problems: a machine that checks the ballot for errors as the voter casts it, allowing for an immediate revote if the ballot is filled out wrong."

"Such a machine is available in Cook County, but state election law is written in such a way that doesn't allow its use. Madigan's proposal, expected to be filed next year, would either require or allow counties statewide to use such machines."

""If there was an overvote or the absence of (an election) judge's signature, it would kick it right back out and provide the voter with the opportunity to vote again," Madigan said. "That situation in Palm Beach County would be covered.""

11/21/2000 "Secretary of state-elect plans conference on elections" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Once he takes office in January, Matt Blunt plans to call a three-day meeting of Missouri's local election officials to scrutinize voting laws, equipment and practices."

I wrote Matt Blunt and received a hand-written reply thanking me for my ideas.

11/21/2000 "Time to update our voting system" (Lisa Napoli, MSNBC)

Brief discussions of new voting technologies, has a few interesting links.

11/20/2000 Commentary: Don't get mad, get even better voting system by Paul S. DeGregorio (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Now that Americans (and the elected officials who represent them) are taking notice of these flaws, it is time that we seriously review these problems and the antiquated methods of conducting elections. It's time we embark on some serious reforms for if we don't, Americans will lose faith in our democracy."

11/20/2000 "Viewpoints: City welcomes bipartisan scrutiny" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"The facts will show that at 11 a.m. on Election Day, more than 100 people were at the Election Board waiting to be placed back on the rolls. By 2 p.m., the numbers grew to more than 200 people. By 5 p.m., the line of people waiting to vote extended outside the Election Board. The facts will show that at 7 p.m. the Election Board closed its doors denying those standing outside the right to vote. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people were turned away from their own polling places."

Good point. But I think the real solution is not to keep the polls open later but rather open the polls earlier. I.e. this is another point in favor of multi-day voting, because it would mean the Election Board would have at least two business days instead of one to remedy these problems.

11/20/2000 "Magic ballot theory won't fly" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Republican Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, and Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., just introduced legislation to form a bipartisan 12-member commission to recommend how best to ensure the integrity of future federal elections. Among the issues the panel would be assigned to study would be voter registration, mail-in balloting, voting technology, ballot design, weekend voting, campaign finance reform and the rationale for the Electoral College."

Sounds like a good idea to me, but Limbaugh is highly critical. He says the solution is to enforce existing laws rather than pass new ones (sounds like anti-gun-control logic). I disagree; in Florida, and probably elsewhere, some election laws are ambiguous and contradictory. And even they werenít, who says we canít make even better laws? And besides the issues go beyond just the laws, so whatís wrong with forming a commission to study all these issues?

I wrote a letter to the editor in response, but it was never published (probably because it was so long!)

"Congress Debates Election Reform" (MSNBC)

  • "Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who heads the Senate Rules Committee, announced that the panel will hear testimony on such matters as poll closing times, ballot formats, voting equipment, absentee voting and the "timeliness and accuracy of vote counting."
  • "Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) released this week a plan aimed at modernizing ballot systems by offering states and local governments federal matching grants to help them pay for improvements that would meet federally approved standards."

11/16/2000 "Election problems are spurring calls from many for improvements to system" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  • "At the Voting Integrity Project in Arlington, Va., Sharon Phillips has been sorting through thousands of reports of voting problems that her privately funded organization has received via the Internet."
  • Also quotes Paul S. DeGregorio, who is now an administrator at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
  • "Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate in Washington, is suspicious, to say the least [of online voting]. He pointed to the potential of computer viruses, the mischief of hackers and the uncertainty of breakdowns."

11/15/2000 "Not Voting In Your Pajamas" (The Washington Post)

"Convenience is not the primary reason people avoid the polls. Despite these facts, the Internet-voting movement has acquired a furious momentum."

11/12/2000 "Thousands of ballots are thrown out for errors in every election, officials say" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  • "Elections officials around the country say that ballots by the hundreds of thousands get tossed every election because voters vote for more than one candidate or for no candidate at all. They say they know of no lawsuits anywhere that have successfully overturned elections on the basis of voter confusion."
  • "Chicago is a case in point. Of the 1.03 million ballots cast in that city last week there were 72,000 that didn't get counted in the presidential race, either because more than one candidate was selected or no candidate was."
  • "R. Doug Lewis, executive director of the Elections Center, an information clearinghouse for state and local election boards, said that "over-voting" -- voting for too many candidates -- runs as high as 10 percent, depending on the jurisdiction and the type of voting equipment used." - See www.votenet.org.