A broken electoral system

Ken Blackwell laments at TownHall.com that some elements of the electoral system fail continually.

Another critical election. Another electoral failure in Florida. Another vote counting disaster in Broward County.

Some Americans suspect fraud, indeed Broward County looks like a banana republic. The latest ballot debacle may be a result of carelessness or incompetence, rather than fraud. But election officials unable to do their job just invite abuse.

A botched vote undermines confidence in American democracy. There is no more vital act for a citizen than to elect his or her local, state and national leaders.

Voters expect only those who are legally eligible to cast ballots. Which in turn will be counted accurately and quickly. This sets a genuine republic apart from fraudulent “people’s republics.”

In 2000 just a few hundred votes separated the two presidential candidates in Florida and chaos ensued. The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court that helped guide its decision to force election officials to follow the law.

Yet 18 years later the state’s electoral process remains broken. The current Broward supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, was appointed in 2003 to fix an office beset with problems—the year before it failed to open the polls on time. Yet Snipes has done little better. A former elections inspector, Benjamin Bennett, complained that “Every election there is a snafu of some type.” Noted the Naples News: “it’s not unusual for Democrat Brenda Snipes, the head of Broward County’s election office, to find herself facing questions about bungled elections.”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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