Election Day Voting Meltdowns

Experts are preparing for a third straight presidential election with serious difficulties in administering and counting the votes.

Voter Tim Murray fills out his absentee ballot at the Franklin County Veterans Memorial polling place in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008. Voters in this crucial swing state began casting absentee ballots Tuesday, a day after the Ohio Supreme Court and two separate federal judges cleared the way for a disputed early voting law. (AP Photo/David Smith)

Voter Tim Murray fills out his absentee ballot at the Franklin County Veterans Memorial polling place in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008. Voters in this crucial swing state began casting absentee ballots Tuesday, a day after the Ohio Supreme Court and two separate federal judges cleared the way for a disputed early voting law. (AP Photo/David Smith)

While the two campaigns Tuesday accused one another of trying to steal or suppress votes, experts in election administration are focusing on the old standbys: Faulty machines, questionable voter lists, last-minute litigation.

The likely trouble spots, the experts say, include two familiar election reprobates: Ohio and Florida. But there are also some new entrants, as the broad new playing field of the 2008 presidential election means more states are competitive, more citizens are participating, and the potential for Election-Day meltdowns like the notorious administrative collapse in Florida in 2000 has increased. Many pointed, in particular, to Colorado as the possible source of a late night November 4, while others suggested that record turnout in states like Virginia and Georgia could challenge local election officials.

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But despite eight years of federal and state efforts to create a more standardized, higher-tech national framework for election administration, most state votes will still be administered by county election boards whose competence and equipment vary wildly.

Of course, it doesn’t help that we’ve spent those years mostly going in the wrong direction: toward electronic voting rather than simpler, standardized paper mark-sense ballots.

The silver lining this year, at least in terms of tension, is that these perennial issues really only matter when the election is close. As detailed this morning, it appears that we’re in for a blowout.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, US Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Floyd says:

    No problem in Illinois! Our results have already been determined.
    Nationally, we have voters too dumb to read a ballot, find a registrar, or even go to the polls on election day. We have officials too lazy to count ballots and too partisan to care about ethics.
    Primary delegates had no obligation to vote their candidate on the first ballot, turning the conventions into “sham-farces”
    Maybe we should just do like Illinois and determine the winner in Smoke[and mirror] filled rooms and skip the elections altogether.
    Or we could just determine the winner by Media accolade.

  2. just me says:

    Whether it is a blow out or not, the system needs to be fixed.

    Paper trails and some type of proof of who you are are needed IMO.