Voting Mechanics 101

Move over Florida.

Other states also had voting abnormalities, inefficiencies, and mistakes. A few examples:

New Jersey announced it's certified vote count from the presidential election is wrong, but that won't change the overall result. Republicans have asked for a hand recount in one county in New Mexico, saying it's the only way to guarantee accuracy. Connecticut says it will conduct its own investigation of voter fraud. Corrected absentee ballots in New York recently were ruled valid by five appellate judges.

A number of other states had more than enough voting glitches - such as undercounts and overcounts, running out of ballots, and coping with long lines - to start thinking about change. Or, as Democratic Leadership Council chair Al From said this week, "Sometimes you discover a problem when it's a problem."

A proposed bipartisan panel appointed by congressional leaders to recommend improvements in the voting process should help ease public concerns before the next election. And Congress itself can make recommendations to the states, which are are responsible for running elections.

But Congress should not intervene with specific election reforms. State officials are best equipped with a knowledge of their peculiar voting problems.

Jolted by Flordia's experience to look at their own electoral flaws, states and counties need to find the money to fix any local voting problems. Nearly one-third of all counties rely on voting technology designed in the 19th century.

The Federal Election Commission estimates the cost at some $9 billion. That works out to approximately $50,000 per precinct.

Local taypayers who want accurate vote counts shouldn't flinch at such costs. But Congress should be wary of giving money to states for these fix-ups. Such largess could too easily come with the wrong strings attached.

Our constitutional republic needs a tuneup, and it's time to call in the local mechanics.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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