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Flunking the Carter standard
Opinion    Baltimore Sun   Originally published March 28, 2005
MANY ASPERSIONS were cast in the wake of the 2000 presidential election debacle. A common theme involved former President Jimmy Carter, trusted monitor of more than 50 elections around the world, and how his talents were more needed at home.

Indeed, Mr. Carter and former President Gerald R. Ford were both quickly pressed into service to recommend election reforms. But they were mostly ignored.

Now, four years and another messy election later, Mr. Carter, 80, is being drafted for help again. Congress would be smart to listen to him this time if American elections are to rise above global laughingstock.

By the criteria Mr. Carter applies to other nations, U.S. elections are nowhere near fair. Candidates don't have equal access to the public through the media. There is no central election commission viewed as nonpartisan. Voting procedures aren't uniform, even on a statewide basis. And many places using electronic touch-screens, including Maryland, have no paper backup for recounts.

Partnering with Mr. Carter for this new election reform commission is James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state who represented President Bush in the 2000 dispute. If those two can come to terms on meaningful reforms, close heed should be paid - if only to give Mr. Carter a breather.

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