Saturday, November 20, 2004

Elections technology

I have spent a lot of time in the last weeks explaining how elections work to fairly incredulous European co-workers. It's hard for them to believe that there is not a national standard for voting technology, let alone that voter participation is as low as it is in the U.S. Although I feel that this election went off without spectacular technological glitches, I think this is going to come back and haunt us.
Our president has become the most important person in the world, and presidential elections deserve the most secure, reliable possible voting technology AND the highest possible voter participation.
In that light I was interested to read this article from Commondreams.org. The author actually believes that election fraud occurred in Florida, and I have to state that I do not agree. Nevertheless, the six suggestions make sense to me. The most important of all is, why cannot elections fall on a holiday? They are held on Sunday in Germany (which is officially Christian, so Sunday is everyone's day off) and I am sure that it would help keep lines down and help more people volunteer to keep the poll stations moving.
The second suggestion I agree with is that same-day voter registration should be allowed-- with certain very limited, but non-negotiable, sets of identification, i.e. driver's license or passport olus evidence of residence. You either have it or you don't, 30 second decision, shooting for 90% positive. In principle I don't mind scrutiny of earlier registration applications, but the trade-off should be that more than one kind of evidence would constitute proof of eligibility.
As to voting technology, I have seen a lot of support for good old pen-and-paper. But also check out this thread from slashdot.org.

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