Magazine article The American Enterprise

Fix Our Voting System

Magazine article The American Enterprise

Fix Our Voting System

Article excerpt

Much of the post-election chaos could have been avoided had national news anchormen kept their big mouths shut early on election night. Instead, they behaved like hyperactive children furiously unwrapping their Christmas gifts a day early.

The networks began projecting a Florida Gore victory at 7:49 p.m. Eastern time, even while residents often Panhandle counties were still voting. A GOP-oriented group called Citizens for Honest Politics has sued the networks on behalf of several Panhandle citizens who say the early projection for Gore deterred them from voting in a"decided" election. In other states as well, voters stayed home after Gore's fleeting Florida "win." This likely affected not only the presidential race but also congressional and state-level contests.

Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, their cable counterparts, and the executives to whom they report should all apologize to the American people. By jumping the gun and getting Florida wrong--not once, but twice--they triggered an easily-avoided national trauma.

To prevent a replay, Congress and the states should take actions to gird the voting system from future mischief. States should adopt uniform polling hours, with voting booths opening and closing simultaneously all across the Union. News organizations should respect the new, longer voting day (say, 18 hours) and not beg to be regulated by blurting out "results" even as events are unspooling. No possible harm, and much good, would be done if people waited for election results until midnight Eastern Standard Time. …

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