Who Really Won?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Help America Vote? Not Yet

Congress set up the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to advise states as part of the Help America Vote Act, but it took nine months to even get its members confirmed. The Rev. DeForest "Buster" Soaries, a Republican and the first head of the EAC, arrived in Washington in late 2003 and found a commission lacking real power. "Instead of hitting the ground running," says Soaries, who resigned in 2005, "we hit the ground looking for office space to borrow." Congress has since allocated more money to the commission, but critics carp that EAC still lacks regulatory power. The result: a patchwork quilt of problem-plagued state and county regulations. "You can go to 12 precincts in one county on Election Day and see 12 different procedures," says Mike Alvarez, codirector of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project. "I think that will bedevil elections."