9/19/2005

Take election supervision away from politicians, panel advises - Yahoo! News

Hmmm... What is Baker up to this time ? Did he finally grow a conscience ? Nah! -- law

In a report to be presented Monday to President Bush and congressional leaders, former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker are recommending a widespread overhaul of election practices to make it easier for Americans to vote and to guarantee that their votes are counted.

Seeking to overcome the flaws that brought election turmoil to Florida in 2000 and to Ohio last year, they are calling for election oversight to be removed from politicians and given to non-partisan election professionals.

The former president, a Democrat, and the former secretary of state, a Republican, are the co-chairmen of the private Commission on Federal Election Reform, a 21-member bipartisan panel that spent five months studying the most pressing problems with the nation's electoral system. It follows on the work of a similar commission, led by Carter and former President Gerald Ford, that studied irregularities from the 2000 presidential election.

By urging greater professional and state involvement in running elections, the panel would reverse more than 200 years of partisan and local control of elections while seeking to overcome what it called a "new and dangerous" belief among those on an election's losing side that the electoral process is "unfair."

The recommendations run against "the tremendous vested interest of local election administrators" by moving control of elections "out of the hands of partisan, self-interested actors," said Richard Pildes, an expert on voting rights and election law at the New York University School of Law. He called the findings "extremely important."

Congressional action would be needed to implement some of the panel's 87 recommendations; states could enact others. The expected cost for all the recommendations would be $1.35 billion, the report said.

After Carter and Baker present the 91-page report to Bush and then to Congress, it will be posted at www.american.edu/Carter-Baker. The two men hope that some of their goals can be achieved before the 2008 presidential election.

Among the commission's other recommendations:

- Establishment of a "universal voting registration system." States, rather than local jurisdictions, would be responsible for the accuracy of voter lists. State lists would be interchangeable.

- A greater role for states in registering potential voters. In addition, states should make it easier for ex-felons who have met their sentencing and parole requirements to register to vote.

- Implementation of a uniformly accepted photo identification system to ensure that a would-be voter is the person on a voting list.

Take election supervision away from politicians, panel advises - Yahoo! News

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