A decade after Florida fiasco, voting remains a hodgepodge

October 27, 2010

USA Today Opinion

Call it the Board of Elections' prayer: Let the weather be clear, let the turnout be heavy and let everyone who wins, win big.

The desire for clear-cut victories reflects election officials' awareness that razor-tight races magnify the foul-ups at the polls — late openings, lost ballots, machine malfunctions — that disenfranchise voters.

So where does the art of vote-counting stand a decade after the mother of all foul-ups, the Florida recount that left the nation without a president-elect for five weeks after the 2000 election?

The encouraging news is that Bush/Gore recount embarrassment produced major changes in the way the nation votes. About 75% of the nation's voters have been moved onto new systems, ones generally more accurate and less prone to mistakes. Because of reduced errors, more of the votes cast actually get counted— about 1 million more, says voting expert Charles Stewart, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Even so, enough issues remain to cause potential trouble on Tuesday, when some three dozen congressional races are rated as tossups and each will help determine which party holds power on Capitol Hill.

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