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AAAS expert panel calls for voter-system research and reform

WAHINGTON DC -- A panel of top experts on election technology and administration warned Tuesday that the American system of voting is broadly vulnerable to error and abuse, and called for a crash-course of study and reform to make results more reliable and to promote better access by voters, especially those who have historically encountered serious impediments to exercising their right to vote.

In findings released after a weekend conference convened by AAAS, the 18-member panel concluded that research into new voting technology and the behavior of voters, election officials and poll workers will be essential to reforms that ensure maximum voter participation, trust and confidence while guaranteeing privacy and the integrity of the results. The research - and the reforms - will become increasingly important as the United States considers moving toward an Internet-based voting system, the panelists said.

"Everything is connected to everything else," said Shirley Malcom, AAAS's head of education and human resources. "Within the roots of the system there may be a connection to disempowerment and disenfranchisement."

Without reform, American elections may be increasingly subject to the sort of profound dispute and diminished credibility that followed the contested 2000 presidential tally in Florida. "The 2000 election showed how easily people's faith in the electoral system and process can be lost," said Henry Brady, professor of political science and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. "If we are going to have a strong country, a strong democracy, it's probably worth investing a relatively small sum of money in understanding the problems and trying to solve those problems."

AAAS's Science and Policy as well as Education and Human Resources staff organized the 17-18 September workshop, with funding from the National Science Foundation,
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Contact: Monica Amarelo
mamarelo@aaas.org
202-326-6431
American Association for the Advancement of Science
21-Sep-2004


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