Nothing Else Matters If We Don't Have Fair Elections

A month ago, Spudsy issued a reminder about the importance of ensuring that the upcoming election is fair. Today, I read this:
With 41 days to go before the presidential election, election officials and political operatives in [heavily populated Palm Beach County, Florida] — famous for overvotes, undervotes, butterfly ballots and hanging chads — are worried about a repeat performance of the chaos that clouded the outcome of the 2000 presidential race.

…"We have seen problems in Palm Beach County already in the primary," said Ben Wilcox, executive director of Common Cause Florida, a watchdog group. "I think potentially we could have major problems in Florida again."

It's not like they didn't try to fix things after the electoral meltdown that sent the 2000 election all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

The punch cards are gone. Security cameras monitor all activity in every county election office. Random spot-checks review each ballot in 2 percent of all precincts.

But the "improved" system may not be much better than the old one.
A month out from "a razor-close election" in Palm Beach County, the outcome is still being held up by court battles over the voting.

I quite honestly can't believe that the Democrats did not make this issue a centerpiece of their legislation once they secured a Congressional majority. Utterly foolish. Completely short-sighted. I've been writing about iterations of the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (you can find House and Senate versions here) for three years, since Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) first introduced it in fall of 2005. Not only has it still not been passed—it's not even been reintroduced this year, in an election year where every Democrat in Congress will tell you what a vitally important election it is.

The Senate version, last introduced in Nov. 2007 by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has exactly one co-sponsor, and, despite the reasonable expectation that any sensible senator running for president would have signed on, the lone co-sponsor is not Barack Obama or Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton, but Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.


The best we can do now is hope that Obama leads by a large enough margin on election day that any funny business will be evident. (Of course, even if he is, and loses, brace yourselves for the invocation of the Bradley Effect.) And, should the Dems retain their majority, we've got to harass them more to get this voting legislation passed. Time to spread some democracy at home.

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