NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 6, 2004

Four years after electoral chaos in Florida sent the Bush-Gore presidential battle to the Supreme Court, sparring is erupting around the country over the very procedures intended to prevent a repeat, even as some familiar problems loom just weeks before Election Day, says the Wall Street Journal.

  • A new federal election law that was meant to bring more uniformity to locally run elections is itself spawning a patchwork of inconsistent policies in different states.
  • Language in the law allowing voters to cast "provisional votes" when their registration is in doubt has already set off legal battles over which provisional ballots will ultimately be counted.
  • New voting technology has sparked debates over the possibility of computer hacking, even as the infamous punch-card machines, outlawed in Florida and elsewhere, are still in use in parts of 22 states.

According to the Journal, other problems threaten a smooth November election:

  • Statewide voter databases won't be ready until 2006.
  • New voters registering by mail must provide photo identification, a requirement that some see as a defense against fraud, while others view it as intimidation against minority and elderly voters.
  • Americans in parts of 42 states will vote on new machines of some sort, including about one-third using optical-scan systems, with slightly fewer voters using touch-screen technology.

Finally, there are concerns the new technology will not provide a voter-verifiable paper trail in the case of a recount and concerns the new requirements will make finding and training enough poll workers especially difficult, says the Journal.

Source: Jackie Calmes, "November Butterflies: As Election Nears, Counting the Vote Faces New Pitfalls," Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2004.

For WSJ text (subscription required),,SB109693812192636161,00.html?mod=home%5Fpage%5Fone%5Fus


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