I could not agree more with David Frum, who points out the madness of allowing partisan elected officials to run our elections, something no other stable democracy in the world does. When you see problems with too few voting machines, battles over long lines and early voting periods, this happens because those elected officials, especially at the state level, have a clear incentive to make those things happen.
Almost everywhere else, elections are run by impartial voting agencies. In France, elections are the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, which establishes places and hours of voting, prints ballots (France still uses paper) and counts the votes. In Germany, an independent federal returning officer oversees a complex state and federal voting system. In Canada, federal elections are managed by a specialized agency, Elections Canada. Mexico, emerging from a sad history of electoral manipulation, created in the 1990s a respected independent agency, the Federal Electoral Institute. Brazil has nationwide electronic voting, producing instantaneous, uncontested results…
Politicians of one party do not set voting schedules to favor their side and harm the other. Politicians do not move around voting places to gain advantages for themselves or to disadvantage their opponents. In fact, in almost no other country do politicians have any say in the administration of elections at all.
He cites one obvious example:
tory from the 2000 election.
Like many old cities, St. Louis has not invested in modern voting equipment. Voting delays are notorious. At the scheduled poll-closing time, voters were still lined up throughout the city. Al Gore’s campaign, desperate to win the state, asked a judge to extend voting for three more hours in the heavily Democratic city — but only in the city. A state judge agreed. Republicans appealed, the state judge was overruled, and the polls were closed after remaining open a total of 45 additional minutes beyond the legal closing time.
Republicans won Missouri’s 11 electoral votes by a margin of 78,786 out of the almost 2.4 million cast.
Think about what’s incredible here:
Lines were lengthy in St. Louis City because in the United States, almost uniquely, local governments choose how voting is cast and counted. People who live in localities with less capable governments, such as St. Louis, will face greater delay and difficulty in casting their vote.
When local Democratic officials saw themselves disadvantaged by the existing rules, they appealed to a judge for special treatment for its (likely) voters — and only for those voters. (Good news: In Missouri, circuit judges are appointed by the governor and then confirmed in office by nonpartisan vote. In many states, however, judges are themselves elected in partisan elections.)
The other party demanded that the existing rules be upheld, and the case was litigated on the fly, ending in a weird compromise that only failed to become a national scandal because the events in Florida were so much more dramatic.
This is absolutely accurate. Elections should be run and controlled by a non-partisan federal agency and the system should be the same nationwide. Every precinct should have the same voting machines and the same ratio of machines, and polling places, to the number of voters. Early voting should be instituted nationwide and it should last a full month. And election day should be a national holiday. All of these things would fix the problem with long lines, not enough voting machines and many of the causes of voting day chaos.