November 11, 2006

"Keeping the Voting Clean"

The NY Times has published my oped, which begins:

    AS election mishaps hindered voting on Tuesday from Cleveland to Denver, some people were already calling for giving up on the new electronic voting machines, which were themselves put in place to prevent another hanging-chad fiasco like that in Florida in 2000.

    The calls will only get louder as the public learns more about Florida's 13th Congressional District -- coincidentally, Katherine Harris's old district-- where voting machines apparently lost or failed to record up to 18,000 votes in a race where the Democratic and Republican candidates are just a few hundred votes apart. If everyone just voted by mail or with pencil and paper, the argument goes, our voting problems would be solved.

    But this reaction to the bugs and glitches shows that Americans have not learned the right lesson from 2000: the problem is not with the technology of running our elections but rather with the people running them.

    The United States should join the rest of the world's advanced democracies and put nonpartisan professionals in charge. We need officials whose ultimate allegiance is to the fairness, integrity and professionalism of the election process, not to helping one party or the other gain political advantage. We don't need disputes like the current one in Florida being resolved by party hacks.

For those NY Times readers visiting this blog for the first time, welcome. You can find an extended academic article expressing my views about non-partisan election administration here.

Posted by Rick Hasen at November 11, 2006 08:05 AM