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Making Votes Count

In this presidential election year, the Times's editorial page is examining the flaws in the mechanics of our democracy, including the reliability of electronic voting machines, obstacles to voter registration and turnout, and the lack of competitive congressional elections due to partisan drawing of district lines. The project is being led by editorial writer Adam Cohen, who will be traveling throughout the country to research these issues. The following is an archive of editorials from the series.

Adam Cohen Adam Cohen
Adam Cohen is a lawyer and author, with a particular interest in legal issues, politics and technology. Before joining The Times edtorial board in 2002, he was a senior writer at Time.

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One Last Election Lesson
North Carolina's election fiasco is a cautionary about the perils of relying on electronic voting without a paper record. (Jan. 18, 2005)

New York's Electoral Mess
Gov. George Pataki and the State Legislature have prepared the way for a logistical disaster when New York votes in 2006. (Dec. 08, 2004)

Improving Provisional Ballots
One of the brightest spots in this year's election was the nationwide debut of the provisional ballot. (Nov. 21, 2004)

About Those Election Results
Until our election system is improved we cannot expect voters to have full confidence in the announced results. (Nov. 14, 2004)

New Standards for Elections
It's patently obvious that presidential elections should be conducted under uniform rules. (Nov. 7, 2004)

What to Do on Election Day
Voters, particularly in battleground states, should head to the voting booth prepared to fight for their vote to be counted. (Nov. 1, 2004)

Where the Action's at for Poll Watchers: Ohio as the New Florida
It's hard to avoid the conclusion that at least some election officials are intentionally trying to stop eligible people from voting. (Oct. 31, 2004)

The Return of the 'Butterfly Ballot'
Americans have enough to do in deciding on their votes without having to puzzle over how to get their choices to count. (Oct. 29, 2004)

The Three-Hour Poll Tax
National standards should be developed to rectify the problem of long lines at the polls that discourage voters from participating. (Oct. 27, 2004)

Election Day Misdeeds
The election challengers that the Republican Party is placing at the polls next week have as much potential to disrupt the voting as they do to prevent fraud. (Oct. 26, 2004)

What Congress Should Do
When the dust settles from this year's election, Congress should begin drafting a new, comprehensive election reform law. (Oct. 24, 2004)

Be Part of the Solution
The mechanics of American democracy are deeply flawed. If this election is going to be a fair and honest one, concerned citizens will have to do their part to ensure that every vote counts. (Oct. 11, 2004)

The Poll Tax, Updated
The suppression of minority votes has continued because it is perceived as a winning tactic, and because it is rarely punished. (Oct. 7, 2004)

More Troubles for Diebold:
Diebold's recent violation of federal law raises more questions about the electronic voting machine company's honesty and its commitment to transparency. (Oct. 4, 2004)

Playing With the Election Rules
The secretaries of state in Ohio and Colorado are interpreting election laws in ways that threaten to disenfranchise voters. (Sept. 30, 2004)

Barriers to Student Voting
Elections officials and institutions of higher education must do more to remove the barriers between young people and the ballot box. (Sept. 28, 2004)

They Said It Couldn't Be Done
Nevada's success using electronic voting machines that produce paper records has proven the naysayers of the technology wrong. (Sept. 18, 2004)

The Return of Katherine Harris
Florida’s top elections officer, Glenda Hood, is creating the impression that she is manipulating the rules to help re-elect her boss's brother.(Sept. 16, 2004)

On the Voting Machine Makers' Tab
As doubts have grown about the reliability of electronic voting, some of its loudest defenders have been state and local election officials with financial ties to voting machine companies. (Sept. 12, 2004)

Voter ID Problems in Florida
Misapplied voter-identication rules should not prevent people from casting their ballots, as appearently happened in Florida last week. (Sept. 7, 2004)

Denying the Troops a Secret Ballot
The plan allowing members of the military to vote this year by fax or e-mail has far too many problems, starting with the contractor running it, for it to be reliable. (Sept. 3, 2004)

The Pentagon's Troubling Role
Allowing military voters to send in ballots by e-mail through the Pentagon, as some states are proposing, is far too open to hacking to go forward. (Aug. 31, 2004)

Abolish the Electoral College
The Electoral College thwarts the will of the majority, distorts presidential campaigning and has the potential to produce a true constitutional crisis. (Aug. 29, 2004)

The Shame of New York
New York has one of the nation's most dysfunctional, opaque and patronage-ridden structures for running elections. It needs an overhaul, starting with the New York State Board of Elections, which should be dismantled. (Aug. 10, 2004)

Insurance for Electronic Votes
With millions of voters set to use electronic voting machines of questionable reliability, the public should insist that protections be put in place right away. (July 23, 2004)

Felons and the Right to Vote
Some 4.7 million Americans, more than 2 percent of the adult population, are barred from voting because of a felony conviction. Denying the vote to ex-offenders is antidemocratic, and undermines the nation's commitment to rehabilitating people who have paid their debt to society. (July 11, 2004)

An Umpire Taking Sides
Elections should not be managed by partisan politicians. Right now, a major flaw in the American electoral system is that the top election officers in most states are men and women who are publicly rooting for the Democratic or Republican side. (July 9, 2004)

Indians Face Obstacles Between the Reservation and the Ballot Box
South Dakota has a long history of anti-Indian voting rights violations, involving many of the same tactics that were employed against blacks in the pre-civil-rights-era South: county officials who try to prevent Indians from registering, district lines deliberately drawn to keep Indians from being elected to public office, and harassment and intimidation of Indian voters and candidates. (June 21, 2004)

Gambling on Voting
Election officials should be willing to make electronic voting at least as secure as slot machines. Electronic gambling machines in Las Vegas operate honestly and accurately. Electronic voting, by comparison, is rife with lax procedures, security risks and conflicts of interest. (June 13, 2004)

The Disability Lobby and Voting
Two obvious requirements for a fair election are that voters should have complete confidence about their ballots' being counted accurately and that everyone, including the disabled, should have access to the polls. It is hard to imagine advocates for those two goals fighting, but lately that seems to be what's happening. (June 11, 2004)

Who Tests Voting Machines?
Testing companies routinely refuse to answer even basic questions about their procedures. Although they are called independent, these labs are selected and paid by the voting machine companies, and are under enormous pressure to do reviews quickly, not to find problems. (May 30, 2004)

Voting Machines for New York
If New York acts quickly and resolutely now, however, it can not only protect the reliability of its own votes, but can also help make verifiable paper trails a national standard. (May 18, 2004)

Voting Reform Could Backfire
Provisional balloting has great potential, but it is complicated. State officials should be working now to put in place procedures to ensure that the ballots live up to their fullest potential, and do not make things worse. (May 9, 2004)

A Compromised Voting System
California's electronic voting machines are the subject of two disturbing studies — one on machine malfunctions in last month's primary, another on misconduct by one of the nation's leading voting machine manufacturers. (April 24, 2004)

Bad New Days for Voting Rights
Despite voting rights laws, blacks, Hispanics and Indians are still regularly discouraged from voting, often under the guise of "ballot integrity" programs that are supposed to be aimed at deterring fraud at the polls. (April 18, 2004)

The Confusion Over Voter ID
In last month's Florida primary, some polling places had signs saying voters could not vote without photo ID. The problem is, the signs were wrong. (April 4, 2004)

When the Umpires Take Sides
Katherine Harris was both the state's top elections official and co-chairwoman of the Florida Bush-Cheney campaign. This year it could happen again. (March 29, 2004)

Florida as the Next Florida
Four years after Florida made a mockery of American elections, there is every reason to believe it could happen again. (March 14, 2004)

The Results Are in and the Winner Is . . . or Maybe Not
There is a disturbing amount of evidence that electronic voting, in its current form, is vulnerable to electoral mischief. (Feb. 29, 2004)

Elections with No Meaning
Partisan gerrymandering, which has largely eliminated contested congressional elections, is a threat to our democracy and should be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. (Feb. 21, 2004)

How America Doesn't Vote
Voting rolls are the gateway to democracy. They are also a national scandal. (Feb. 15, 2004)

Budgeting for Another Florida
Fixing the machinery of American democracy wound up at the bottom of President Bush's budget last week. (Feb. 8, 2004)

How to Hack an Election
Concerned citizens have been warning that new electronic voting technology being rolled out nationwide can be used to steal elections. Now there is proof. (Jan. 31, 2004)

The Perils of Online Voting
The advantages of the Pentagon's Internet voting system are far outweighed by the dangers it poses. (Jan. 23, 2004)

Fixing Democracy
Three years after an election that displayed our electoral system's flaws, things may actually be worse. This is no way to run a democracy. (Jan. 18, 2004)

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