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News Articles and Op/Ed Pieces

(For previous months, visit the archives.)

When I created ERIN there were no sites dedicated to election reform news, so I posted all the articles I could find. Now that the following excellent sites are available, rather than duplicate their efforts I will just post those articles that I find most relevent and interesting.
  • Election Reform Information Project
  • The Brookings Institution's Election Reform page
  • Yahoo! News: U.S. Elections
  • Stateline.org's Election Reform page

    NOTE: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a new and "improved" web site where it is impossible to find anything, and now my links to their articles are broken. I'm trying to find a solution to this problem.


    11/15/2001 "Agreement Reached on Election Reform Bill " (Washington Post)

    Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Administration Committee, have reached agreement on election reform legislation. "House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said later yesterday that the full House may consider the measure before it adjourns this year." The bill would provide $2.65 billion in funding. Key provisions include requiring states to adopt minimum standards and implement statewide voter registration and provisional balloting. The bill was immediately attacked by some Democrats and special interest groups as being insufficient.


    08/10/2001 "Legislatures Want Election Control" (AP)

    "State legislators are holding tight to state and local control, welcoming federal money but only if it comes without requirements... 'Federal intervention is not needed,' said Utah House Speaker Marty Stephens, a Republican who co-chaired the task force." - I disagree.


    08/08/2001 "Suppressing Dissent" (Wall Street Journal) (editorial)

    "The United States Civil Rights Commission is apparently preparing to send to the printer its report on the Presidential election in Florida" but "will not include the dissent that has been filed by two of the Commission's own members." Which "would be like Chief Justice William Rehnquist voting with the majority in the case of Bush v. Gore and then maneuvering to prohibit Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg from issuing her famously scathing dissent."


    07/25/2001 "Secretary of state says local judges erred in election" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

    "Secretary of State Matt Blunt will declare today that court orders issued in St. Louis and St. Louis County on Nov. 7 improperly allowed 1,233 people to vote. Blunt noted that "less than 50 court orders" were issued in Kansas City and Jackson County. The report also will detail: "fraudulent votes cast by, or in the name of, felons and deceased persons; double voting; the use of unqualified election judges; and the degree of risk in St. Louis for future fraud."" Click here for the full report


    06/28/2001 "COMMENT SOUGHT ON UPDATE OF VOTING SYSTEMS STANDARDS" (press release) (FEC)

    "The Federal Election Commission (FEC) today unanimously approved for public comment a draft of Volume I of the voluntary standards for computer-based voting systems." Special emphasis on: Accessibility, Internet Voting, Feedback to Voter, and Quality Assurance and Configuration Management.


    06/08/2001 "Civil rights commission approves report assailing Florida vote" (CNN)

    "The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights approved Friday a controversial investigative report that found the 2000 presidential race in Florida was marred by "injustice, ineptitude and inefficiency" that disenfranchised minority voters. The vote to approve the report was 6-2, with two members -- one Republican and one independent -- sharply dissenting. Commissioners Russell Redenbaugh and Abigail Thernstrom issued a statement saying the report was based on "faulty analysis" and relied on "vague and unsubstantiated claims" about problems with the 2000 Florida vote. They also said that the commission "has become an agency dedicated to furthering a partisan agenda.""


    06/04/2001 "Don't dilute meaning of vote" (editorial) (The Oregonian)

    Editorial against instant runoff voting (IRV), strongly supported by the Greens, who say it would have allowed votes to be cast for Nader without hurting Gore.


    06/01/2001 "Lack of leadership plagued Fla. election" (Washington Post)

    Basically a recap of the Florida election debacle. But check this out: "Escambia and Manatee counties possessed the second-chance capability but deactivated it. Escambia Supervisor Bonnie Jones said, "People should be able to mark their vote correctly." She said giving voters a chance to correct mistakes "increases the cost of an election," because ballots cost 25 cents apiece. "Maybe that was a bad judgment call," Jones mused. "Who’s to say?" - [Anyone with any common sense, I would think! Check out these figures...] In the 24 optical-scan counties that gave voters a second chance, only one ballot in 167 was invalidated - .6 percent. In the 15 counties in which the technology did not exist, one ballot in 17 was rejected - 5.7 percent. As many as 120,000 Florida ballots could have been corrected by voters if every county had employed modern machines with second-chance technology."


    05/17/2001 "Palm Beach commission approves computer voting" (AP)

    "Earlier this month, Florida lawmakers approved a $32 million statewide election reform package -- including $2 million for Palm Beach County." However, Palm Beach County is going beyond the call of duty and is planning to spend about $16 million on a state-of-the-art "touch screen" computerized voting machines. Note: a seperate article reported that another Florida county, Pasco County, also plans to replace their punch-cards with touch screen systems instead of cheaper optical scan systems.


    05/16/2001 "Senators push election-reform bill" (Miami Herald)

    "Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who chairs the Rules Committee, which will consider the bill, and Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., joined the sponsors of a competing measure offered by Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sam Brownback, R-Kans. The two bills had about 25 cosponsors, and McConnell said he hoped that Majority Leader Trent Lott would help get the compromise to the Senate floor in the next few months."

    "The measure would establish a blue-ribbon bipartisan panel to make recommendations by the end of 2001 on voting methods, ballot design, registration rolls, absentee ballots and access to polling places. Then a new government agency, the Election Administration Commission, would establish ``best practices'' for states to follow. States could apply for grants, totaling $2.5 billion over five years, to modernize their systems if they meet minimum standards."


    05/14/2001 "Vote reform is taking a back seat" (Chicago Tribune)

    Overview of the current state of affairs: public outcry dissipating, few states taking action, congressional action not forthcoming, motor-voter problems, etc.

    ""There are not many people who have a sense of what we ought to do," said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over the issue. - Well, I have a clear sense of what to do!

    05/11/2001 "Report: Bush Would Win Recount of Disputed Ballots" (Reuters)

    "President Bush would have won a hand recount of all disputed ballots in Florida's presidential election using the two most common standards for judging votes, according to a USA Today analysis published on Friday. The newspaper said the study of 171,908 ballots also found that errors by Democratic voters probably cost former Vice President Al Gore as many as 25,000 votes, enough to have decisively won Florida and the 2000 election."

    I think it is disgraceful that the winner of an election is determined by how the ballots are interpreted. We must use only those voting systems that leave the intent of the voter clear, even if that intent is to undervote or overvote. That's what precinct scanners buy you. And we must have laws that leave no room for subjectivity in the counting of ballots. I.e. you can recount ballots as often as you like but only with machines that are designed for that type of ballot.

    05/09/2001 "A Long Road for Election Reform? " (Washington Post)

    "Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) today warned that federal subsidies for new voter machines and broad-based federal election reform are not likely to be approved soon. Lieberman's comments came as witnesses before a key Senate panel challenged many widely-held beliefs about voting practices."

    "Stephen Knack, a research economist at the World Bank, said the assertion that poor and minority communities have the worst voting machines is wrong. "Whites, the non-poor and Republican voters are actually more likely than African-Americans, the poor and Democratic voters to live in punchcard counties," he said referring to a voting machine system with a relatively high error rate. "Moreover, counties with punchcard systems on average have higher personal incomes, higher tax revenues per capita and larger populations than do counties with more modern voting technology.""


    05/08/2001 "McCain Seeks to Jump-Start U.S. Election Reform" (Reuters)

    "``I hope we can contradict the prevailing view in some quarters that Congress has lost interest in this issue,'' McCain said at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee which he heads. McCain said he aims to have his committee become the first to report out an election-reform bill, sending it to the full Senate for consideration next month."

    "McCain, along with Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee, have co-sponsored a bill to develop voluntary standards for voting machines. Their measure, one of dozens on Capitol Hill, most offered by Democrats, would also provide federal matching funds to states and localities to help purchase new and upgrade old voting equipment. The bill contains no price tag, but McCain said on Tuesday he figures it would cost about $1 billion to replace all antiquated voting machines nationwide."


    05/08/2001 "Manufacturing Votes" (Wall Street Journal)

    Discusses vote fraud and manipulation in Missouri.

    "Senator Bond wants those who register by mail to show up in person for their first election rather than sending in an absentee ballot. He also wants to have voters show the same kind of photo ID they use to rent a video or board a plane. Rep. Clay counters that many poor people neither have nor want photo IDs and such a requirement would burden them. But all states issue photo IDs for nondrivers."

    "Better elections require reforms like Florida's decision last week to upgrade its voting machines. But comprehensive reform has to include efforts to weed out fraud and get to the bottom of efforts to manipulate the system such as the Gore-Lieberman lawsuits. Otherwise, valid voters will continue to be at risk of having their ballots canceled out by error or skullduggery. Every vote should count, but only if it's real."


    05/05/2001 "States Still Mulling Election Reform" (AP)

    "While Florida stepped up last week with sweeping election reform, no other state has gone as far to fix what many say is a national problem made clear during the chaos of Election 2000. Only two states (Georgia and Maryland) have even come close so far, leaving the threat that the election problems exposed last fall may wind up before the federal courts -- just as the election itself did."

    "The action this year has come piecemeal: South Dakota approved a centralized database for voter registration, Virginia required presidential electors to vote for the candidate their state chose, and Utah laid out rules for military ballots."

    "Money concerns, partisan rivalries and doubt about the best course of action have left the vast majority of the 1,500-plus bills before state legislatures with little or no chance of passage this year. Congress, which many state legislators hoped would pay for equipment upgrades, has yet to agree on any reforms."

    05/05/2001 "Florida lawmakers OK vote reforms" (Washington Post)

    "Among other things, the package requires the more reliable optical-scan ballot systems to be in place in most of the state for the 2002 primary elections and provides at least partial funding to accomplish that goal, eliminating punch card and paper ballots and mechanical lever voting. It sets standards for recounts in close elections, makes provisions for people to vote even when their names are not immediately found on voting rolls and enforces a voter bill of rights to ensure fair treatment at the polls."

    "The measure will cost $32 million, including $6 million for voter education, the first money ever earmarked in the state for that purpose. Approved 120-0 in the state House and 38-2 in the state Senate, it grew out of recommendations made earlier this year by a special task force appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother."

    Note: this bill was signed by Gov. Jeb Bush on May 9.


    05/04/2001 "Senate panel focuses on city election woes" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

    ""This is not about last year's election outcome," Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn said as the hearing began. "It's about a much larger problem that we came across in Election 2000. . . . Difficult as it is to believe, Americans still cannot take for granted that their votes will be counted, or even that they will be permitted to cast a ballot in the first place."

    Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo "has sponsored a bill that would tighten the motor voter law by requiring voters who register by mail to show a photo ID the first time they vote, rather than submitting an absentee ballot. Clay said that could hamper voting in poor communities, where residents often don't have drivers licenses". It would diminish the effectiveness of motor voter and the Voting Rights Act," Clay said. "To now start chipping away at those rights is disappointing, and it's something I will fight."

    05/04/2001 "Close Call" (Wall Street Journal)

    "The entire Florida election dispute might have been avoided if the networks hadn't declared the polls were closed in Florida when some 5% of the state, in the Central time zone, was still voting. Since those areas voted 2-to-1 for George W. Bush, the GOP nominee probably lost several thousand votes because citizens thought they couldn't cast ballots."

    "Affidavits from 42 poll workers or inspectors were presented at a hearing chaired by Sens. Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman yesterday. They all indicated that they saw a decline in the number of voters beginning at 6 p.m. CST, when ordinarily the voting traffic increases. The networks have yet to fully own up to or explain this more serious mistake."

    "On Oct. 30, a week before the election, Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris issued a statement to the media pointing out that the polls in the Central time zone would be open until 8 p.m. EST. "The last thing we need is to have our citizens in the Central time zone think their vote doesn't count--because it certainly does," she implored the networks. "Waiting until 8 p.m. EST allows all Floridians the opportunity to decide the outcome of races within Florida." The networks ignored her."


    05/01/2001 "Democrats Seek to Jump-Start U.S. Election Reform" (Reuters)

    "Standing outside the U.S. Supreme Court, Democrats on Tuesday tried to jump-start stalled efforts to revamp the nation's election system and better ensure every vote counts. More than four months after the top court decided the disputed 2000 presidential election, Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe led a half dozen lawmakers accusing the Republican-led Congress of dragging its feet on reform."

    "McAuliffe announced the start-up on Tuesday of the DNC's new Voting Rights Institute, which will hold hearings and offer election reform remedies of its own to Congress. The institute will also serve as a clearinghouse to collect and send on to the Justice Department complaints of alleged violations of voter rights."



    News Archives

    Please note: not all of the links still work, because some news organizations (like MSNBC and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) only keep current articles on line.