Thirty Six Days
|While the federal
government proceeded very deliberately, states and localities considered
and implemented a broad range of improvements to voting systems and procedures.
In view of the Florida
debacle, individual states undertook close examinations of their election
systems. In many, the governor or the secretary of state established
a task force to review election procedures; typically these task forces
held a number of hearings and issued reports. Secretaries of state
also took advantage of the propitious moment to advocate packages of legislative
proposals. Legislators weighed in; according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures, by early May 2001 nearly 1,600 bills
on election reform had been introduced in state legislatures around the
country, and 130 had been signed into law. Georgia, Florida, Indiana
and Maryland were the first states to pass significant reform laws.
A look at activity in some of the states:
See also: League
of Women Voters page.
In Alabama, Gov. Don
Siegelman established a 14-person Commission
on Election Day Procedures by means of an executive order signed Nov.
20, 2000. It met on Feb.
14, 2001 but that proved to be its only formal meeting; the commission
never issued a report or recommendations. (One Alabama observer suggested
that the endeavor involved a bit of grandstanding by the governor).
At the Feb. 2001 meeting several committees were formed; one, the electronic
voting committee, submitted a report to the governor and even prepared
a draft bill. The Secretary of State ended up addressing some of
the problems through rulemaking.
In Arkansas, Act 767
of 2001 (approved March 14, 2001) created the Arkansas
State Election Improvement Study Commission. The ten-person Commission
held its organizational meeting on Aug. 28, 2001. It held four town
hall meetings in late February and early March and released its final
report and recommendations (PDF) on June 11, 2002.
In California, voters
41, the Voting Modernization Bond Act of 2002 (Shelley-Hertzberg Act)
on the March 5, 2002 primary ballot by a margin of 51.5% to 48.5%.
The measure will provide up to $200 million in matching funds to allow
counties to replace outdated voting systems. [Secretary of State's
release on ]. Also, on Sept. 18, 2001 Secretary of State
Bill Jones announced that two
punch-card voting systems will be de-certified effective Jan. 1, 2006.
However, on Feb. 13, 2002, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled
(in Common Cause v. Jones, a suit filed by the ACLU
in April 2001) that punch card systems must be replaced in time for the
2004 election. More broadly, Jones advocated a
In Colorado, Secretary
of State Donetta Davidson assembled a Blue
Ribbon Election Task Force which held its first meeting on Jan. 19,
2001 and presented a set of recommendations to the General Assembly in
early 2002. A bill, HB02-1307,
was introduced in the House on Jan. 31, 2002; Gov. Bill Owens signed the
measure into law on June 7, 2002.
In Connecticut, the General
Assembly approved in its June 2001 Special Session, and the Governor signed
into law on July 2, a bill (P.A.
No. 01-9) which, among its many provisions, established a a 16-person
Commission to Study Voting Technology Alternatives. Sen. John Fonfara
and Rep. Jim O'Rourke co-chaired the Commission. Among its other
activities, the Commission mailed a 32-question survey to the 169 town
clerks and 342 registrars of voters.
In Florida, Gov. Jeb
Bush announced establishment of a 21-person Select Task Force on Election
Procedures, Standards and Technology on Dec. 14, 2000; the task force presented
its findings in a report released on March 1, 2001. On
May 4, 2001 the Florida legislature overwhelmingly passed sweeping
election reform legislation; Gov. Jeb Bush signed the 103-page bill, SB1118,
9 at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center. The legislation
provides $24 million to modernize voting equipment ($7,500 per precinct
in small counties and $3,750 per precinct in large counties), $6 million
for voter education and poll worker training and recruitment, and $2 million
for development of a statewide voter registration database; it also provides
for provisional ballots and standardizes recount procedures.
Georgia Secretary of
State Cathy Cox issued a detailed report (Jan. 2001). #Following
upon this report, SB213
was introduced, passed by overwhelming margins, and signed into law
by Gov. Roy Barnes on April 18, 2001; among its provisions, the law mandated
uniform voting equipment for each county by July 2004, implemented a pilot
project to test an electronic voting system, and created a 21st
Century Voting Commission. [One of Cox's recommendations that
SB213 did not include was implementation of early voting.] The 18-member
Commission, charged with evaluating election equipment, held its first
meeting on May 16, 2001 and submitted its Report
and Recommendations on Dec. 31, 2001. # Gov. Barnes' FY2003
Report (pages 20-22) recommended $54 million in bonds to establish
a statewide uniform voting system and $3.4 for voter education and technical
support. The House and Senate passed the 2002 Supplemental Budget
with the Governor's recommendation of $54 million untouched.
# Meanwhile, the Georgia Technology Authority, for the Secretary of State,
for Proposals for Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting equipment
and optical scan voting equipment for absentee voting on Jan. 14, 2002;
nine firms submitted proposals by the March 4, 2002 deadline.
# On May 3, 2002 Cox announced
that Diebold Election Systems, Inc. had been awarded the $54 million contract
to provide Georgia with 19,015 touch-screen voting units as well as 400
optical scan ballot readers for absentee voting. It was, she noted,
"the largest contract for election equipment ever in the history of the
legislators introduced H.B.
No. 168, to establish a temporary task force to examine the state's
election laws, on Jan. 18, 2001. The Governor signed the measure
into law, Act 139, on May 24, 2001. The nine-member Elections
Review Task Force held its first regular meeting on Dec. 10, 2001 and
issued its report on May 2, 2002.
Secretary of State Pete T. Cenarrusa formed an Election Task Force in December
2000. It has held occasional meetings; one piece of Task Force-sponsored
206, was adopted. In addition, the Secretary of State has used carry-over
money from the 2001 Legislative Session to fund voter education and election
In Illinois, the State
Senate passed a resolution creating a Task Force on Integrity in Voting
adopted May 31, 2001) but then failed to act upon it.
In Indiana, on Feb. 1,
2001, Secretary of State Sue Anne Gilroy and Governor Frank O'Bannon announced
a bipartisan Task Force on Election
Integrity [first proposed on Dec. 14, 2000]. On
May 11, 2001, Governor O'Bannon signed two election reform bills, one creating
a statewide internet-based voter registration system (HEA
1510) and one establishing a voting system improvement fund (SEA
268). On Oct. 22, 2001, the Task Force presented its final report,
(PDF) to the governor. Task
Force recommendations were reflected in legislation introduced in January
2002. On March 14, 2002 the General
Assembly passed the elections reform bill, and Governor O'Bannon signed
1101 into law on March 26, 2002.
In Iowa, Secretary of
State Chet Culver held a series of five
public meetings, between Dec. 11, 2000 to Jan. 24, 2001 in the state's
five congressional districts, to discuss Iowa elections practices; he released
a report (PDF) on March 12.
Culver established several task forces, specifically a Legal Reform Task
Force to examine recount provisions and how to define a legitimate vote,
and a State Election Administrators Training task force. He was also
working to develop a centralized database of registered voters, and replace
an outdated mainframe system. (Nov. 15, 2001 release >).
In May 2001, Kansas Secretary
of State Ron Thornburgh appointed a 12-person task force (3 people from
his office and 9 county officials) to assist in developing a set of election
standards. The group held five meetings starting in August.
It produced a 130-page binder "Kansas Election Standards" (May 9, 2002),
which was distributed to election officers in all 105 counties. Also
in 2001, the Kansas Legislature passed several election reform measures.
Kentucky Secretary of
State John Y. Brown III announced a 10-point
plan to improve Kentucky Elections on Jan. 4, 2001.
In Maine Secretary of
State Dan Gwadosky spoke during Spring and Summer 2001 to various local
groups on the theme of "Election Reform-A Local and National Perspective."
According to Julie Flynn in the Secretary of State's office, Maine
did not face many of the issues encountered in Florida, but some adjustments
were made. Chapter
415 of the Public Laws of Maine, passed in the First Regular Session
of the 120th Legislature (June 2001), requires voter registrars and clerks
(of whom there are about 520 in Maine) to attend an election law training
session at least once every two years. "Your Right to Vote in Maine"
posters were distributed to polling sites in November 2001; this was codified
into law in Chapter
516 (Second Regular Session). Chapter
637 (Second Regular Session, April 2002), requires the Secretary of
State to develop and implement a centralized voter registration system.
Maryland Gov. Parris
Glendening formed a Special
Committee on Voting Systems and Procedures (Dec. 4, 2000) which released
on March 16, 2001. Immediately thereafter the Maryland General Assembly
took up the issue, and on May 15, 2001 Gov.
Glendening signed House
Bill 1457, which required the State Board of Elections to select and
certify a uniform voting system and had a cost sharing program between
the state and the counties, and Senate
Bill 740, which addressed voter registration and provisional ballots.
The State Board of Elections issued its Request
for Proposals on July 17, 2001 and announced,
on Dec. 7, 2001, its selection of Global
/ Diebold Election Systems to provide 4,678 Direct Recording Electronic
(DRE) units and an Optical Scan Absentee Voting System for four Maryland
counties at a cost of $6.6 million to the state and $6.6 million to the
counties. The Board of Public Works approved the contract on Dec.
12, 2001; total estimated cost is $14.3 million over three years. Also,
the Department of Legislative Services has produced a report, (PDF) (Dec. 5, 2001).
Michigan Secretary of
State Candice S. Miller initially proposed
(Dec. 14, 2000) establishing a blue ribbon committee to study voting systems;
opted for a report. She also sponsored a Voting
Technology Fair on March 28. The report, was released on May
15, 2001. Also, on Sept. 6, 2001, Miller launched an online
In Minnesota, Secretary
of State Mary Kiffmeyer backed a set of reform
bills including a rural voter equality bill, a recount accuracy bill,
an anti-fraud bill and a military equal access bill. Many of these
were signed into law as part of the Omnibus State Government Appropriations
of State Eric Clark appointed a Select Task Force on Election Procedures
and Technology in May 2001; the Task Force released its final
report on Nov. 29, 2001.
In Missouri, Secretary
of State Matt Blunt formed a Commission to Review Election Statutes.
Established on Jan. 8, 2001, the Commission held public hearings around
the state and presented its report, on Jan. 29. In August 2001, citing a lack
of progress on election reform in the General Assembly, Blunt issued some
rules affecting elections. In mid-May 2002, the General Assembly
passed a comprehensive election reform bill containing many of the recommendations
of Blunt's report.
In Montana, Secretary
of State Bob Brown presented a 10-point
election reform plan on June 15, 2001. Meanwhile, House
Joint Resolution 8, passed by the Legislature in March 2001, created
a legislative interim
subcommittee to examine voting systems and procedures. (Sec.
The subcommittee produced final recommendations on April 25, 2002.
Sheri Heffelfinger, lead research analyst in the Office of Research &
Policy Analysis of the Montana Legislative Services Division, stated, "This
study focused exclusively on voting system technologies. The results, in
short, are that the Subcommittee will recommend to the full committee,
which will likely recommend to the full legislature in 2003, two bills:
(1) ban punchcard ballot systems after Dec. 31, 2003. (2) general update
and revision of current statutory language governing use of non-paper-based
voting systems." [6 of the state's 56 counties use punchcard systems]
--The Legislature meets 90 days every two years; the next session starts
in January 2003.
In Nebraska, the Speaker
of the Nebraska Legislature, Sen. Douglas Kristensen, introduced LB 67,
a bill to create a six-person task force to study the election process,
on Jan. 4, 2001; LB
67 passed the Legislature and the governor signed it into law in February
2001. The task force released its report,
containing 26 recommendations, on February 25, 2002 (dated March 1, 2002).
In Nevada, Secretary
of State Dean Heller has proposed a set of election
reform goals. These failed to make headway in the 2001 legislative
In August 2001, Heller certified a touchscreen voting system >,
and in early 2002, he conducted demonstrations of touchscreen voting systems
New York Gov. George
Pataki signed an executive order creating a New
York State Task Force on Election Modernization on Feb. 16, 2001.
The bipartisan seven-member task force issued an interim report on June
20. It has conducted public hearings, roundtable discussions, and
demonstrations of new voting technologies. A final report, due by
April 15, 2002, was released on June 18, 2002. The 63-page report,
(PDF), contained 64 recommendations.
Ohio Secretary of State
Ken Blackwell held an elections
summit on Feb. 14, 2001. The Ohio
Elections Summit Report sets out election reform priorities. HB
5, introduced in January and signed by the Governor on May 29, 2001,
created an eleven-member Election
System Study Committee. The Committee held its initial meeting
on Aug. 28, 2001 and has issued a set of recommendations to the General
In Oregon, Secretary
of State Bill Bradbury and the Oregon Association of County Clerks
formed a task force which released a report
(PDF) with its findings and recommendations on Feb. 6, 2001.
In Pennsylvania, Gov.
Tom Ridge announced
in his budget address on Feb. 6, 2001, that he would direct the Department
of State to create a "Voting Modernization Task Force." He further
proposed spending $8.5 million to create an Integrated Voter Registration
System. Ridge signed the executive order creating the 20-person Voting
Modernization Task Force on March 8; Gov. Mark Schweiker received its
(PDF) on Nov. 2, 2001. Also on Feb. 6, 2001 the Pennsylvania Senate
passed a resolution creating a bipartisan Joint Select Committee to Examine
Election Issues. In June 2001 this committee issued an interim report
on a statewide voter registration system. On
Jan. 31, 2002, Gov. Mark Schweiker signed a into law a bill creating a
statewide voter registration system.
In Rhode Island, Secretary
of State Edward S. Inman, III and Board of Elections Chairman Roger Begin
announced, on March 8, 2001, a joint commission to study Rhode Island's
election laws and procedures. The Commission to Study Rhode Island
Election Procedures held a series of public hearings and released its report
on Jan. 23, 2002.
In South Carolina, Gov.
Hodges signed Executive
Order 2000-33, establishing an Election Process Task Force, on Dec.
20, 2000. The 13-member task force issued its final report,
containing 34 recommendations, on March 20, 2001. Hannah K. Majewski,
public information officer, SC State Election Commission, later commented
that, "We already had laws in place that would prevent a situation similar
to what happened in Florida but the Governor wanted to assure the voting
public that we had restudied our laws so that we would not face what happened
In Texas, the 77th Session
of the Texas Legislature (2001) passed nine new laws upgrading various
aspects of election law, including voting systems (HB
1856, and HB
2336), pre-tabulation review of ballots (HB 1856), minority voting
2923), incomplete and inaccurate voter registration lists (HB
3181), recounts (HB
1599), and information on polling place locations (HB
2922). Like many other states that have done studies and produced
reports, the Secretary of State will study voting techologies and issue
a report by Dec. 1, 2002 (HB 1419). (Also, following the November
2000 election, then Secretary of State Henry Cuellar reviewed election
issues to "determine if we had potential for similar problems in Texas.")
Vermont Secretary of
State Deborah L. Markowitz submitted a memo
with proposals for improvements to the General Assembly (Jan. 12, 2001).
In Virginia, the General
Assembly established (HJR
681/SJR 363) in February 2001 a Joint
Subcommittee on Virginia's Election Process and Voting Technologies.
The Subcommittee held its first meeting on May 15, 2001. Two task
forces were established, one on Technology and Voting Equipment and one
on Voter Registration and Election Day Processes. The task forces
presented draft recommendations and legislation on Oct. 12, 2001; the Subcommittee
then took public comments before issuing its final recommendations on Nov.
26, 2001; many of these require legislation. A final report to come
out in May 2002 will include information on the actions taken by the 2002
In Washington, on Jan.
31, 2001,Secretary of State Sam Reed announced legislative
"designed to keep Washington state 'ahead of the curve' in
conducting accurate, secure and orderly elections." A year later
on Jan. 9, 2002, Reed announced another set of proposals,
specifically introduction of a statewide voter registration database, penalties
against tampering, and a phase out of punch-card voting systems by the
In Wyoming, the Secretary
of State's office worked with a select group of the County Clerk's Association
to draft legislation regarding election reform. H.B. 30, containing
a passel of election code revisions, passed the 2002 Special Session of
Copyright © 2000, 2001,
2002 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action