Record voter participation is expected in Pennsylvania today, but despite similar records being set across the nation this election cycle, America still ranks in the bottom twenty percent of all nations in voter turnout - 139th of 172 countries. In Iowa, record voter turnout for the January caucuses there didn't crack sixteen percent of eligible general election voters.
Even those citizens who do vote are unsure if their ballots will be counted. Indeed, as we pointed out here last week, as Pennsylvania goes to the polls today, in two of the state's counties voters may be voting on machines that were shown to have failed in New Jersey on Super Tuesday, and local pols do not seem particularly worried.
"Election reform" is not a political buzz phrase, nor a kitchen table issue to many in Washington. Until now. If Senator Bill Nelson (D-FLA) has his way, there will be no trouble - or potential trouble - with touchscreen voting machines in the next Pennsylvania primary, or anywhere else for that matter.
Last week team Why Tuesday? visited with Senator Nelson in his Washington, D.C. office to discuss his sweeping plan to change the way and day we vote, and why he chose now to introduce his plan. Watch the video for his answers.
The Senator told us that, after discussing his plan with elections experts and others, he intends to bring his plan to Congress in the weeks ahead.
He announced the elements of his plan in his home state on March 27 with a press release. They were: 1) abolish the Electoral College, 2) establish rotating interregional primaries, 3) provide for nationwide early voting, 4) allow absentee ballots on demand, 5) improve vote verification by "requiring there to be a verifiable paper ballot to accompany every vote that is cast and it would require the elimination by 2012 of touch-screen voting machines" as has occurred in Florida along with decertification of such machines in other states, 6) fund pilot vote-by-mail and Internet voting, and 7) establish standards for voter registration lists.
The version of the plan Senator Nelson intends to introduce into Congress, he told us, will not include funding internet voting pilot projects. Because of security concerns brought to his attention since he introduced his plan in Florida, Senator Nelson believes "that voting by Internet is an idea whose time has not come," an opinion he shares with election experts California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Princeton computer scientist and public affairs professor Edward Felten.
Why Tuesday? is an effort to make America's democracy stronger through increased voter participation; we work to make election reform an issue that our politicians cannot afford to avoid. Read more campaign coverage from OffTheBus by clicking here.