Elections: Things Could Be Worse

As I flew from San Diego to Salt Lake City on Sunday and read the Los Angeles Times, I found a great story that made me feel better about any issues we have with elections in the United States. Haiti Election Grows More Distant as Preparations Move Sluggishly blared the headline. How bad are things in Haiti? Here is an excerpt.

The council has yet to publish a list of approved candidates even though registration closed two weeks ago. Friday’s planned lottery for ballot positions has been canceled. The candidate list is a necessary first step, to be followed by three weeks for legal challenges, another three weeks for contractors to print ballots and two weeks to get the materials distributed to polling places. A similar period would be needed ahead of second-round voting, which would push the run-off and outcome well beyond Feb. 7.

“Do the math,” said Gerard Le Chevallier, the U.N. election coordinator who has overseen contentious ballots the world over. “We can’t compress this critical path of eight weeks any more than we already have.”

And you think there are problems with voter IDs in the US? Check this out….

A biometric voter card initiative also has been delayed. More than 3 million of the estimated 4.25 million eligible voters in Haiti have signed up for the cards. But less than 1% of the cards, which would be the first national ID cards in Haiti, have been produced. Until recently, violence in the teeming slums also prevented registration workers from opening sites for hundreds of thousands of the poorest Haitians.

Election officials in the U.S. get it right 99 percent of the time, but as we all know, there are things that could be better and things that will likely improve between now and 2008. But it is nice to know that, regardless of how bad an election is in the U.S., it could be worse. We could be in Haiti.