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Fri Feb 8, 2013, 10:13 AM

NYT: Lost Votes, Problem Ballots, Long Waits? Flaws Are Widespread, Study Finds

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/us/politics/us-voting-flaws-are-widespread-study-shows.html?_r=0


WASHINGTON — The flaws in the American election system are deep and widespread, extending beyond isolated voting issues in a few locations and flaring up in states rich and poor, according to a major new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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The study also found wide variation in how easy registering to vote can be. North Dakota does not even require it, and Alabama and Kansas reported rejecting less than 0.05 percent of registration applications in 2008. But Pennsylvania and Indiana each rejected more than half of the registration applications they received in 2010. On Election Day, the voting experience can also vary. The 10 states with the shortest waiting times at the polls in 2008 averaged six minutes, the study found. In South Carolina, the wait was more than an hour.

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Charles Stewart III, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Pew adviser, said that high provisional ballot rates were an important signal of potential trouble. “Nationwide, a bit over 1 percent of voters are given a provisional ballot,” he said. “In Arizona in 2008, the rate was 6.5 percent. In the battleground state of Ohio, it was 3.6 percent. While these numbers may seem small, in a recount or election dispute, they would be huge.”

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Professor Stewart said the study should focus attention on the infrastructure of democracy. “Among all important areas of public policy, election administration is probably the most episodic and prone to the problem of short attention spans,” he said. “What would the world be like if we only gave intense attention to education, corrections, transportation and public health problems for a one-week period every four years?”




Lots more interesting stuff at the link, including some rather surprising results.

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