Rethinking Voting

America’s voting problem.  Long lines.  Tangled ballot counts.  Overall low turnout.  How do we fix it?

Voters stand in line at a Fort Myers, Fla. church late Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP)

Voters stand in line at a Fort Myers, Fla. church late Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP)

The biggest question on Election Day in a healthy democracy should be, “Who won?” Not, “Did the voting system work?”

But last week, once again, millions of Americans faced Election Day wondering if the vote would produce a good, clean result, or we’d be plunged into days or weeks of fighting over a tight, tangled vote. Lines were long. Ballots ran out. Voters were turned away. Counts went late. Lawyers were lined up to brawl. Voter suppression was charged.

Thank goodness we had a clear outcome. What if we hadn’t?

This hour, On Point: fixing American voting.

-Tom Ashbrook


Nathaniel Persily, professor of Law and Political Science and the Director of the Center for Law and Politics at Columbia Law School.

Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Rob Richie, executive director of Fair Vote.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post “Election Day saw news story after news story about interminable lines at polling stations. In some areas, people waited for two hours, three hours, or more. To many observers, it seemed ludicrous that a country as advanced and as wealthy as the United States can’t figure out how to hold a decent election.”

Fox News “The state’s election was marred by a series of problems. The biggest was the long lines, which were particularly bad in Miami-Dade where the wait stretched on for hours, exacerbated in part by the sheer length of the ballot — a whopping 10 pages.”

Brennan Center “Our nation’s ramshackle voter registration system does not work for 21st century America. This outdated, paper-based system is not only inefficient and costly, but prone to inaccuracy. Worse, the clunky system leaves off millions of eligible voters or contains errors in their records — such as misspelled names or mistyped addresses — that prevent them from voting or having their votes counted. It is time to harness new technology to modernize our voter registration system — adding more than 50 million eligible Americans to the rolls, permanently.”

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