Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are slowing their drive to revamp the nation"s voting systems, aides said yesterday.The U.S. continues to be plagued by a patchwork election system that creates confusion for voters and burdens local election officials. Voting rights advocates hoped that a new mandate requiring optical scan ballots would be in place before November 2008. Instead, Congressional leaders plan to introduce legislation requiring every touch-screen voting machine have a voter-verified paper trail. However, experts worry that these add-on printers will cause enormous problems on Election Day, including paper jams and smudged, illegible ballots.
Under pressure from state and local officials, as well as from lobbyists for the disabled, House leaders now advocate putting off the most sweeping changes until 2012, four years later than planned.
An important voice in the debate to reform our election system is the disabled community, many of whom were able to vote independently for the first time because of the new touch-screen voting machines. They worry that moving to the optical scan system will diminish their independence and inhibit their right to vote in private. The solution is to create a voting system with a voter-verified paper trail like the optical scan that also includes the accessibility element of the touch-screen machines.