Why Tuesday? Board Member Norman J. Ornstein
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is one of the good guys in Congress — smart, thoughtful, decent and hardworking. Now, fortunately, he is turning his attention and considerable energies to election reform, a broadly defined issue.
It is fortunate for two reasons: First, there are big issues out there and enough people distrustful of the electoral process or cynical about it to create a real crisis of governance the next time we have a very close election. Second, precious few lawmakers have decided to devote their time and attention to this topic.
Despite the emotions raised by problems with voting, this is not a slam-dunk winner of an issue politically. And those lawmakers who were instrumental in passing the Help America Vote Act in 2002 have either lost interest in the issue, are exhausted from it or believe we should wait awhile before acting again.
They are wrong. We do need to be careful about rushing to major reform without considering the costs and consequences; we are paying now for the rush to employ touch-screen devices known as DREs, or direct-recording electronic machines. And every major reform has to be absorbed by hapless election administrators who have neither the resources nor the trained personnel to make big changes on a frequent basis.