Washington, DC- Despite an early start in meeting federal election reform mandates, Pennsylvania's reform efforts have become embroiled in controversies over new voting machines that could delay the upgrades of polling-places in time for the 2006 primaries.
"What's Changed, What Hasn't and Why: Election Reform 2000-2006," released today by electionline.org, finds that Pennsylvania completed a statewide voter registration database to meet one of the mandates of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) before the Jan. 1, 2006 national deadline. However, the state missed deadlines for replacing older voting technology, including lever voting machines, because of concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting systems and a slow certification process that has left only one voting system for purchase to meet accessibility requirements.
"Pennsylvania was one of the first states to embrace the need for change after 2000 -- particularly in the area of building a statewide voter list," said Doug Chapin, director of electionline.org. "Unfortunately, all that effort hasn't been enough to shake controversies about how well new voting technology will be able to address the problems identified in November 2000."
"Election Reform 2000-2006" tracks changes to voting around the country. It offers a definitive, nonpartisan and non-advocacy account of the state of the American electoral system a month after the deadline for significant changes.
Among the findings from around the country:
While Congress appears to have little appetite for amending HAVA or enacting new election administration-related legislation, activity in the states continues, particularly on issues relating to early and absentee voting, the restoration of rights for ex-felons who have completed their sentences, and centralized voting stations versus neighborhood precincts. "Election Reform 2000-2006" offers a detailed look at what has happened in each state over the past five years.
"The center of gravity for reform has shifted from Capitol Hill to outside the Beltway," Chapin said. "The changes that have occurred in the states -- and those that have not -- could have a profound influence on the 2006 election and beyond."
Electionline.org is the nation's leading source for nonpartisan and non- advocacy news and analysis of election reform issues. It is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts through a grant administered by the University of Richmond.
For more information, visit http://electionline.org.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, please visit electionline.org.