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Persily Weighs In On Prospect For Election Abuses In 2004 1 - 2 - 3

Persily Weighs In On Prospect For Election Abuses In 2004 (Q+A)
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IN 2000, VOTING IRREGULARITIES turned a cliffhanger presidential election into a certifiable disaster and near constitutional crisis. Butterfly ballots. Hanging chads. Contentious recounts. Controversial court decisions. The drama played out for months on television, gripping viewers in a high-stakes reality show that would determine the country’s next leader.

As the 2004 election approaches there is understandable concern about a repeat performance. Will voters be disenfranchised again? Or will the problems be corrected? We asked Nathaniel Persily, assistant professor of law, for his opinion.

Persily is a political scientist and experienced election- watcher who helped redraw legislative districts in New York, Maryland and Georgia, and was retained by the California State Senate as an expert witness in their redistricting litigation. This past March in Georgia, for example, a federal court called upon him to draw 180 districts for the Georgia House of Representatives and 56 districts for the Georgia Senate – all within ten days.

Q: What made the 2000 presidential election so different from, say, the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy contest that was decided by a razor-thin margin, amid accusations of suspect vote counting in Chicago?

A: There’s no such thing as a perfect election. There are always going to be votes that are not counted, ballot boxes that go missing, accidents that happen either because of mistakes by voters or election administrators. We have a history of election fraud and problems in this country, but never in an election so close has the technology clearly affected the outcome.
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