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Voting Problems Should Be Fully Investigated

VOTING PROBLEMS SHOULD BE FULLY INVESTIGATED & RESOLVED

Statement by Kay J. Maxwell, President of the League of Women Voters

WASHINGTON, DC - "The League of Women Voters is deeply concerned about voting irregularities in the 2004 election. The appropriate officials must fully investigate these concerns through open and public processes. Election officials should look into problems quickly and thoroughly and fix what proves to be wrong. Transparency and a willingness to look into potential problems will strengthen voter confidence and ultimately improve our electoral system.

"It is important to ensure that every properly cast ballot is counted and to make improvements for future elections. Attention must be given to inadequate polling place procedures, problematic voting machines, voter registration system failures, casting and counting of provisional ballots, and absentee voting issues.

"This was far from a perfect election. Although voter turnout reached record levels, the election system showed signs of stress and voters faced real problems. Two key areas deserve special inquiry. First, voter registration problems plague the system. These problems - from failures to fully process registration applications in time to bureaucratic requirements that blocked voter registration - must still be resolved by election officials. Second, the reasons for the very long lines that voters faced in too many states and localities must be thoroughly examined. Having to wait several hours to vote is an unacceptable barrier to citizen participation. What were the reasons? Were there not enough voting machines? Were these polling places poorly organized? Were long lines a greater problem in minority or student precincts than in rural or suburban precincts? Changes clearly need to be made in polling place operations to address these concerns.

"Finally, the League calls on every voter who cast a provisional ballot to find out whether their ballot was counted. The provisional ballot counting process is still ongoing and must be monitored. But every voter who cast a provisional ballot has the right, under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), to know whether it is counted, and, if it is not counted, why it is not counted. States are required to have a toll-free hotline or Internet system so voters can get this information about their ballot.

"The League's nationwide network of state and local Leagues will continue to work closely with election officials to identify and correct all voting problems."

***

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy


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