Stop Fraud: Election Reform Necessary for Democracy
Not Making The Grade
Can the United States become a democracy? Common Cause has researched vote fraud and corruption in the 50 United States and has released a new report. Here's what they say.
On Anniversary Of Florida Fraud Fiasco, Common Cause Education Fund Releases Report On How States Have Responded To Need For Election Reform *** Few Improve – Most States Fail To ActOn the anniversary of the protracted fight over the 2000 presidential election, a new state-by-state report from the Common Cause Education Fund finds only a handful of states have made any improvement in their election laws, and that a few states have even made their problems worse. Most states have failed to act at all, according to Not Making The Grade, the 2001 election reform report card released today.
“By looking at what’s happened in state legislatures in the past year, you’d never know that we had a genuine electoral crisis on our hands just a year ago,” Common Cause President Scott Harshbarger said. “Even with all the commission reports, academic studies, and investigative journalism on our electoral shortcomings, states have not responded with the kind of urgency that the problems demand. Many are simply waiting in vain for financial help to arrive from Washington without doing anything to pave the way.”
In issuing letter grades, the Common Cause report examined whether states have statewide voter registration systems, systems to allow provisional balloting, policies to reenfranchise ex-felons whose sentences have been completed, and a low rate of residual (or uncounted) votes. Common Cause provides a current grade for each state, as well as a grade for each state’s election laws as of election day last year.
Florida made some of the most dramatic election reform progress by creating a statewide voter registration system and banning notoriously faulty voting machines – only enough progress, though, to bring their grade from an “F” to a “C”, according to the report. Florida would need to amend the state’s constitution in order to restore voting rights to ex-felons who have completed their sentences, and Florida has the highest rate of that kind of disenfranchisement.
Indiana made the biggest jump, from an “F” to a “B”, by creating a real-time, online statewide voter registration system that county election officials have access to via the Internet, and by banning faulty machines and providing $4 million for machinery upgrades. Indiana also restores voting rights to citizens who have committed felonies upon their release from prison or jail.
“The point of this report isn’t just to criticize, the point is to make the case for action,” Harshbarger said. “We only look at four major election reform criteria, but even the states who have made progress in these areas still may need improvements in other areas, including absentee balloting, the length and convenience of polling hours, and training for poll workers.
“It’s not enough just to put the punch-cards out to pasture and hope we don’t repeat the Florida fiasco. We need to take bold steps to ensure that all Americans have the fullest confidence that if they cast a vote, it will indeed count. The right to vote is perhaps the most elemental of all civil rights, one that goes to the heart of what it means to be an American citizen. States and Congress have a long way to go.”
In August, Common Cause created an Election Reform Task Force comprised of leading election experts to help guide the organization's efforts on this issue and to mobilize local and national grassroots and lobbying activities around election reform.
For the results of the Banneker Center's recent survey on Election Reform and Vote Fraud, click here
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