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Election Problems

The Issue: Troubleshooting the voting process. Our View: Overseer suggests a sensible approach.

Editorial   Evansville Courier Press   November 28, 2004

Further study of discrepancies in the Nov. 2 Vanderburgh County election is needed, but it's premature to spend $37,000 for an independent audit of the results.

There's more merit to a proposal from Tammy Barnett, a volunteer election overseer, to appoint a community task force to study the election process and recommend improvements.  
That approach could examine a broad array of election issues rather than just doublechecking the tabulation of the county's computerized voting system.

Barnett, a Democrat, and Thomas Massey, a Republican, were appointed by the County Commissioners to help oversee a review of election results by ES&S, the company that leases election equipment to Vanderburgh County.

One of those commissioners, Catherine Fanello, is pushing for the $37,000 audit.

Barnett's approach is more sound.

Her report on the election review takes a logical and systematic approach to the issues and suggests how the county ought to proceed.

She does not rule out an audit, but says we need to know more what an audit could reveal: "If it is merely matching numbers on the electronic files with numbers shown on the print-out, this will do little to allay fears that votes are not counted in the way the voter intended. But if it could in fact prove to voters that each vote cast is counted properly, then it would be well worth the expense."

The review of results did not definitively explain why the number of votes recorded in some precincts deviated from the number of signatures on poll books.

But Barnett's report offers some common-sense suggestions:

Make sure precincts with large numbers of registered voters have more voting machines than precincts with fewer voters. That would help alleviate long lines at the polls.

Have voters sign the poll book just before they vote. In the recent election, there were instances of voters who signed the poll book but left before voting because of the long wait.

There are, to be sure, other issues. Long lines can help explain why more voters signed a poll book than actually voted. Instances of more votes than signatures, however, are potentially more troubling and as yet unexplained.

The goal, as Barnett suggests, must be that voters have confidence that their vote is accurately recorded.

A task force would be a good start in that direction. The audit could be also, but that has yet to be determined

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