The protracted and controversial presidential vote count in Florida has spotlighted problems with current procedures for casting and tabulating ballots, and has prompted calls for reforms. The Senate has held two sets of hearings, several groups have launched studies of how elections are administered and votes counted, and members of Congress have introduced numerous bills. The House Administration Committee will open hearings on April 25th to consider election reforms.
This preview event — jointly sponsored by the Brookings Institution and the Constitution Project at Georgetown University — will be a timely examination of the issues and possible solutions. A panel of election experts will discuss what went wrong in Florida (and probably in other states) on Election Day, and what reforms are needed to assure that every eligible citizen can vote and can have his ballot counted accurately.
Among the issues to be addressed are:
- What are the major reasons why some citizens were prevented from voting, and others had their ballots (in person and absentee) discarded? How can these problems be fixed?
- Is better voter education needed, especially for first-time voters?
- What can be done to modernize outmoded balloting methods? Is technology part of the solution?
- Since election administration has traditionally been a state and local responsibility, what is the legitimate role of the federal government in updating the current system? Who will pay the costs?
- Given the sharp partisan differences in the country and the tendency for politicians to calculate the partisan impact of institutional change, can Republicans and Democrats ever agree on a set of constructive reforms?