Calling election reform in America “the topic of the day,” Paul DeGregorio, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, told a packed crowd at Fordham that nationwide changes under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), established after the irregularities in the 2000 presidential election, helped make the 2006 elections a “success,” given enormous systemic challenges and high voter turnout.
DeGregorio spoke at a seminar entitled “Making Sure Every Vote Was Counted: Evaluating Election Administration in the 2006 Elections” on Dec. 4 at the Lincoln Center campus. Fordham University’s Center for Electoral Politics and the Elections and Campaign Management Program sponsored the event.
DeGregorio noted that one-third of the nation’s voters cast ballots on new machines this year–a circumstance that led to both mechanical and to human glitches. Even so, he said that only 39 out of 6,700 jurisdictions reported problems, and that only one court challenge was filed.
“There is no substitute for training and experience when it comes to elections,” he said. “In 2007, at least 25 percent of our election officials will be brand new. We have more work to do and more challenges ahead.”
The commission was established by Congress in 2002 as part of HAVA to serve as a national clearinghouse for reviewing federal elections. Under HAVA’s mandates, all states must include alternative language accessibility for non-English-speaking voters, allow for persons whose eligibility is questioned to cast provisional ballots, and require a “manual audit” paper trail for all voting systems.
– Janet Sassi