Voting in the 21st century

Nov. 1, 2004, midnight | By Anthony Glynn | 19 years, 5 months ago

Double dealing and disarray cause unfathomable damage

America is only months away from the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and yet there is still a plethora of ways Americans are being disenfranchised. The lack of cohesive voting procedures and computer voting reliability are the most recent developments in voter manipulation, while the age-old corruption of officials still runs rampant.

Last election, there were many problems related to hanging "Chads," the placement of African American Floridians under a "convicted" list (where they were not allowed to vote) and the number of ballots of dispatched American service men and women that did get counted. This year, those problems have somewhat lessened due to congressional reforms, but many others have sprung up.

Florida, for one, still holds a mixing pot of problems. These issues begin with the creation of provisional ballots, which are designed for voters who either go to the wrong voting district or, for some unknown reason, are not on the registration lists to begin with. But the confusion does not end there; 17 states will count the ballot if it is cast in the correct parish and 28 states will count the ballot if it is in the correct district, while five states look to registration lists to combat the problem. In Florida's highly democratic Broward County alone, 58,000 absentee ballots went missing in October of this year because of supposed mix-ups at the post office. When Theresa LePore lost her re-election bid for the Palm Beach County Elections Chief, many were relieved because she had supposedly started the confusion in Florida with her "Butterfly Ballots" and had received over $150,000 from private lobbyists, more than any other Congress member, according to a study by American Public Media's Marketplace Program and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Hopefully this time, confusing ballots will not cause thousands of voters to mistakenly vote for someone like third-party candidate Pat Buchanan. Independent candidate Ralph Nader, who supposedly took away just enough votes from Al Gore to create a victory for Bush, has been taken off the ballot in numerous states across the country. Although Nader's chances for winning the election are slim and may hurt Kerry's numbers, voters must have the ability to choose on Nov. 2 who they want as president (even if most others think Nader supporters are throwing away their vote in the process).

Record numbers of citizens have registered to vote this year, and unless everything goes smoothly, which it won't because of the utter confusion with voters and officials, people who go to the polls can expect a wait of up to three hours. The government has not deemed Election Day important enough for the passage of a law that would give private sector employees leave on that day. Waiting for hours, not being given leave and only having from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in most districts to vote creates a less than assured vote.

Voters of both political parties also have to worry about political maneuvering and defiling inside the booths. A worker for a private registration firm asserts that his employers threw away the registration forms of some Democrats as a way to sign up Republicans only. There are also the alleged democratic firms that cast numerous votes for one voter; a NPR reporter quoted a voter as having cast a ballot over 35 times.

Many things could happen on Nov. 2 but choosing a president by secure voting procedures is not one of them.

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