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Roundup: Last week in election reform

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

It was a busy week for us behind the scenes at Why Tuesday?, and in the world of election reform. What is election reform exactly? And who is the guy in the photo? Get the answers, and much more election reform news, by clicking below. Photo by Cheryl Senter for the New York Times.

The guy in the photo, and the primary election tango
Its New Hampshire Secretary of State William M. Gardner. He got press in the New York Times this week as the “defender” of New Hampshire’s historical first-in-the-nation primary spot on the rapidly-changing primary election calendar.

Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register tells the story of how two Michigan congress members (and brothers!) are going head-to-head with Iowans and New Hampshirites. Not only did Michigan move up it’s primary election last week (despite threat of punishment from candidates and party officials), but Representative Sander Levin (D-MI) and his brother, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) both introduced legislation “that would set up six primary or caucus dates between March and June, with each state representing a different geographic region.”

How do YOU define election reform?
The Associated Press reported Thursday that efforts to reform the American election system have shifted from the goals of the 2002 Help America Vote Act, which helped usher in an era of electronic voting in the United States. Today, Jim Abrams writes, “[lawmakers] now say a return to the paper trails of old is the key to an honest vote, exasperating state election officials.” The article reports that a scheduled vote on Rep. Rush “Holt’s (D-NJ) H.R. 811 was put off “after the legislation met resistance in the Democratic-controlled Rules Committee, which sets rules for floor debate.” Politico, The Hill (via BRAD BLOG)

As seen on electionline.org
electionline.org director Doug Chapin also writes about the evolution of election reform. He talks about the elections “market” and says

[when] the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was enacted in 2002 a seller’s market in election technology ensued.

[snip]

Beginning last year during the 2006 primary season, we saw the buyer’s market start to emerge. As reports of machine malfunctions arose, secretaries of state in Arkansas, Indiana, and West Virginia went public with their complaints about their vendors and, in some cases, initiated legal action to get them addressed.

“What remains to be seen,” Chapin writes, “is whether the new buyer’s market will help make the 2008 election cycle run more smoothly for election officials and voters alike.” What about a voters market? electionline.org is an invaluable election reform resource, and a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

As seen on BRAD BLOG
Blogger Brad Friedman, while traveling the country, has continued to keep his eyes sharply trained on all things election reform. This week, he noted that the “New York Times has finally called for an all out ban on touch-screen voting machines,” reported that Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) attempted to amend Rep. Holt’s H.R. 811 with restrictions “similar to, though weaker than, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s recently imposed restrictions on DRE voting systems,” and pointed out tensions in New Jersey over the safest type of voting machines.

Rocky Mountain reforms?
The Rocky Mountain News reported that Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman “charged that Premier Election Solutions, Hart InterCivic, ES&S and Sequoia have been slow to provide documentation, hardware and other information needed to retest and certify voting machines, as required by state law.” The paper reports Coffman’s office says certification is an issue of voting security, and if he doesn’t see compliance by November 16, counties using these machines will see contingency plans.

Same-day registration for new citizens passes in CA State Senate
The California Chronicle says California State Senator Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) “has annually introduced an election-reform package since her election to the Assembly in 2000. Her 2003 measure required that The Voter Bill of Rights be posted at polling places statewide and included in the voter pamphlet.” Last week the State Senate passed a bill she submitted which would allow newly-naturalized citizens to register to vote on the day of an election.

AEI-Brookings research assistant comes out against H.R. 811
In the Washington Post, Timothy J. Ryan writes positively about a system called Prime III and another called Punchscan, both of which, he says would be outlawed by H.R. 811 “Prime III because it does not produce a paper record and Punchscan because the paper record is not preserved by election officials.”

Project Vote @ TPM Cafe
Project Vote is “series of blogs to keep people informed on current election reform and voting rights issues in the news.” Last week’s entry: Without the Voting Rights Act, There Would Be No Minority Elected Officials.

USA issues voluntary voting guidelines
Information Week has the news that the non-mandatory rules U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Technical Guidelines Development Committee proposed will be open to public comment online.

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