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When I was growing up, we used to play basketball in a park that was never shoveled when it snowed. The basketball rims were never fixed. And we understood then that there was a relationship between public policy and our quality of life.
When Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, I was thrilled to learn that the federal government would offer resources to all states to assist them in enhancing the voting process in America.
Voting is the foundational act that breathes life into the principle of the consent of the governed.
When public access to voting is impaired or when public confidence in voting is diluted, democracy suffers and our freedom is less secure.
Beyond that, states had to also have electronic voting machines that made it possible for people who are physically handicapped to vote in private... and the computerized voting machine made it very easy for, particularly, the blind.
It's an embarrassment that we don't have a broad enough consensus among political leaders that true reform should take place. I could count the members of Congress on one hand that took these issues seriously.
I found that there is very little interest in Washington for true election reform. That neither the White House nor either house of the Congress seems to be as committed to guaranteeing democratic participation in this country as we seem to be in other countries.
The Election Assistance Commission represents a major, unprecedented commitment from the federal government to sustained freedom and vibrant democracy. I am humbled by the prospect of being one its charter members.
We have no basis for having a recall of any particular type of voting equipment because there are no standards. And when we do have standards, even these standards are required to be voluntary.
What we say is that democracy means that you have the right to vote without intimidation and undue burdens. But if you stand in line for six hours, technically, today there is no document, no standard, no law that says that that's wrong.
And when people in power can stay in power they do very little to tinker with the apparatus that put them in power.
I started out as a 16 year old registering people to vote.
I was the Secretary of State of New Jersey in November 2000. I paid careful attention to the challenges that stemmed from inadequate voting systems in various places.
My sense was that most of the elected officials in Washington - in their heart of hearts - really believe that the system can't be too bad because it produced them.
We had to depend on other institutions to do research on our behalf. We had to use the information that already existed to craft the best practices to distribute throughout the country. And we had to do all of that in ten months.
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Hubert H. Humphrey
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