T Nation

Non-Partisan Election Commission?

For the last several elections, people have been upset about voting machines, and conspiracy theorists have had a field day wallowing in unfounded speculations of chicanery. What should be done?

In the NYT on November 11, law professor Rick Hasen makes a very good argument for using such commissions to run/administer/oversee voting machinery:

EXCERPT:

[i]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.[/i]

Here’s a link to a longer and more scholar-focused article on the same subject: http://electionlawblog.org/archives/margin-final.pdf

What do people think of this? My only worry is that “nonpartisan” people might actually be quite partisan, so perhaps a balanced partisan commission might be better?

Use a system that doesn’t offer the vagueness of difficult to count votes but that does offer a concrete, verifiable and manually countable paper trail.

How fucking difficult is that to do?

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:

What do people think of this? My only worry is that “nonpartisan” people might actually be quite partisan, so perhaps a balanced partisan commission might be better?[/quote]

You’re almost guaranteed partisan “nonpartisan” people whether they know it or not. And I can’t fathom a balanced partisan commission being any more conclusive than what we’ve got now. I’m with vroom here.

No such thing as “bipartisan.”

[quote]vroom wrote:
Use a system that doesn’t offer the vagueness of difficult to count votes but that does offer a concrete, verifiable and manually countable paper trail.

How fucking difficult is that to do?[/quote]

That would be an improvement, definitely.

But I think it’s important to have oversight no matter what the technology you have in place – in any technological situation, you’re going to need oversight on the counting – and on the enforcement of anti-fraud measures, which are equally important.