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October 20, 2014

Hanging Chads: The Aftermath

By Martin Merzer | Dispatch
Hanging Chads: The Aftermath
Leif Parsons

Years after the presidential election debacle of 2000, when Florida’s dimpled/hanging/pregnant chads and other electoral adventures kept the world on edge for 35 days before George W. Bush was declared the winner, we still can’t get our act together.

The chad-intensive punch cards are long gone, replaced by a variety of somewhat functional electronic voting systems (touchscreen machines, optical-scan voting). But recently, we’ve had ballots so complex—11 proposed state constitutional amendments to mull over in 2012!—that voters needed 40 minutes to figure them out, earning us the superlative of the state with the worst voting wait time. We’ve had laws and rules imposed (and challenged) making it harder to register, to vote early, to vote by absentee ballot, to get voting rights restored and—we are not making this up—to use bathrooms at polling places. And this summer a judge ruled that Florida legislators so blatantly gerrymandered some congressional districts that they had to take another crack at it—less than a month before the primaries.