Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Monday, October 2
Improving Election Practices for November 7th
There's considerable anxiety attending the new requirements of federal law that are in effect for this year's election system. Foremost among the changes in effect this year, due to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) are new voting technology and statewide registration databases.

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), one of the principal co-sponsors of HAVA, has probably been the leading voice for election reform in the Senate. Last week, he placed this statement in the Congressional Record, calling attention to some of the things that the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is doing by way of preparation for this year's general election. Here's an excerpt from Senator Dodd's statement:
The Election Assistance Commission has recently released four documents that serve as an overview on good election administration practices in preparation for the November 7 Federal elections. States are making the final push to implement the new election administration requirements enacted in HAVA which must be in place by November. As with any new Federal requirements, it is anticipated that there may be problems with new technologies, administrative failures, or human error. In light of some of the challenges faced by election officials in primaries over the last few weeks, these best practices guidelines are both timely and instructive for those who are responsible for conducting our Federal elections this fall.
Senator Dodd goes on to discuss the four documents, which may be found here on the EAC's website. The first, a Quick Start Management Guide for New Voting Systems, covers planning and managment for those jurisdictions using new equipment. The second is a Quick Start Management Guide for Poll Workers, with suggestions on the recruiting, training, and retention of qualified poll workers. The third is a Quick Start Management Guide for Voting System Security, covering ways of dealing with flaws in voting security. The final one is a Quick Start Management Guide for Ballot Preparation/Printing and Pre-Election Testing, with procedural recommendations on how to test various components of an election system in advance.

These documents are especially valuable, given the concerns that have been swirling around due the Princeton report on Diebold's election system, recent election troubles in Maryland, and trouble with the equipment used in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, just to name a few. As un-sexy as the EAC's suggestions may seem -- except to election geeks like me! -- they will hopefully provide practical means by which to promote better-run elections next month.

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