mm302: Fair Election Foundation: a modest proposal

MUDGE’s Musings

2008’s presidential election promises to have the largest turnout in many years.

An engaged electorate. That’s the good news.

The bad news? The need to accommodate the influx of voters who are galvanized:

  • by the issues;
  • by the desperate need to get the past eight dysfunctional years behind them;
  • by the opportunity to cast a vote for a candidate from a group (women? people of color?) not previously available on a presidential ballot;

all these have created something of a perfect storm for election officials nationwide.


Turnout prompts concerns for Nov.

Election officials ask for more machines

By Richard Wolf | USA TODAY

Record turnout in this year’s presidential primaries has election officials worried about possible shortages of machines, ballots and poll workers in November.

In 17 of the 24 primaries held so far, turnouts were larger than any in the past 40 years, the result of competitive Democratic and Republican contests and earlier primaries. Paper ballots ran out from California to the District of Columbia, more poll workers were needed in Arizona and an electronic voter registration database crashed in Connecticut.

“The biggest problem during the primary season has been too many voters,” says Doug Chapin, director of, which tracks voting issues. “Time and time again, the problem has been turnout being up higher than even the most optimistic projection.”

Now officials from Virginia to Texas are warning that they will need more voting machines in the fall to avoid long lines. It’s not clear if county or state officials will pay for additional machines.

And, of even more concern to yr (justifiably) humble svt is the danger of electoral fraud. California and Colorado, as noted in this USA Today story, are returning to paper ballots as a result.

The combination of eliminating technology (where the votes’ provenance might be doubted, thanks to the criminals who have, like all criminals, stolen what they couldn’t earn legitimately) in a time of increasing traffic does not bode well for enabling every energized voter to cast her ballot.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has noted with concern this all too real possibility of electoral felony here, and here, for example.

The Texas and Ohio primaries this week should provide an excellent test. Both possess large, excited populations of voters; should the electoral infrastructure prove unequal to the challenge, the crisis would become top of mind for everyone.

There are eight months until the general election to come up with solutions. The candidates who are raising funds in such obscene amounts should think hard about earmarking a useful portion to protecting the interests of the voters they are working so hard to influence.

It is clear that every aspect of our national government has been so tainted with partisanship and incompetence that there can be no expectation that the Federal Election Commission, whose mission in any event is campaign finance and not vote assurance, would have escaped the infection.

The people are going to have to see to the provenance of their own votes. A bipartisan foundation to assure fair elections shouldn’t be necessary in the U.S., but our bitter experience in 2000 and 2004, as well as the overwhelming increase in expected voting makes it imperative to act now.

Funded by the candidates of both parties, such a body established immediately would be a timely means of beefing up local election resources to handle the crowds while creating mechanisms that will make this election free from felonious assault.

Shouldn’t really be that expensive, if Rivest and Smith can be believed.

Candidates: eschew a week of television, and assure a fair and honest tally.

FEF: Fair Election Foundation. What a concept!

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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