Many voters, when they arrive at their polling places, reportedly have experienced various kinds of obstacles, from confusion over ballot instructions to instances of police or election officials acting in intimidating ways. With the 2002 elections just a little over a year away, it's time to take action to eliminate these problems.
A lengthy and well-documented Democratic congressional report to the House Committee on the Judiciary this week finds that in 18 states voters reported serious instances of election-related police misconduct or misconduct by other officials. That, along with complaints about inadequate assistance at the polls, ought to be enough for states and counties to implement one of the many recommendations in this report: that "all registered voters be mailed a notification of their voting rights and ... agencies to contact if they believe those rights have been violated."
Other voting-related problems documented (and already noted by other inquiries into what happened in Florida and around the country last November) include more than a million ballots discarded; because they were judged to be incorrectly filled out; faulty recount procedures; voters "excluded or purged" from the rolls; and difficulties experienced by voters with disabilities in nearly every state.
This new report, along with the recent Ford/Carter commission election findings should help prompt meaningful election reform in states. The clock is ticking ever faster as another election approaches. And there's no more serious issue in a democratic society than protecting the integrity of, and the counting of, every vote in an environment as free from systemic failure and intimidation as possible.