NEW YORK, NY - October 28 - Today Miles Rapoport, President of Demos, a nonpartisan voting rights organization, and former Connecticut Secretary of State, issued the following statement on possible vote counting delays on Election Day:
"With the prospect of close elections in a number of states and daily reports of new barriers to making every vote count, many political commentators are starting to complain that the upcoming election could drag on' like the 2000 Election. With all of the rhetoric circulating about the security of our voting process, we must ask ourselves which is more important - a quick result or a proper, accurate vote count? It's a no-brainer. In this and every election, every eligible vote should be counted.
"In 2000, many bemoaned the circumstances that pushed the presidential election into December. But the fact is that our Republic survived. So this year we need to prepare to wait it out and make sure we live up to our democratic principles, because the razor-thin margins anticipated next Tuesday may raise the same concerns.
"Some delay or dispute may arise from new election rules. For example, citizens whose registration status is questioned on Election Day are to be offered provisional ballots. The same will hold for newly registered voters who are asked, but can't produce ID at the polls.
"Double-checking a provisional or newly registered voter's eligibility takes time, and election results could be delayed in closely divided states. Those voters deserve to cast ballots that count. Consider the alternative: immediate 'certainty' achieved by discarding thousands of eligible ballots would devalue the votes of thousands and the founding principles of our country.
"While some raise concerns about the prospect of lawsuits filed to protect citizens' voting rights, we need to remember that, even before the election, the signs of potentially illegal balloting procedures and voter intimidation are becoming a national epidemic. Delays and legal challenges should be anticipated and accepted if we truly believe that every vote should count.
"We should set a precedent next Tuesday for fair voting this year and all future elections and ensure that all eligible voters can be confident that they have cast a valid ballot and have a voice in our democracy."
For information about voters' rights and challenges to the integrity of our elections in 2004, visit the Demos homepage at www.demos-usa.org.
Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization based in New York.