NAACP head disappointed with progress on election reforms

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

HOUSTON -- An NAACP report inspired by the 2000 presidential election, when thousands of minority voters' ballots didn't count, has found that most states have made little progress in reforming their election systems.

Six states received failing grades in an NAACP report released Monday. The states that received an "F" were Delaware, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont.

"It was disappointing to look at the grades of some of the states knowing they could be better," NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said after a news conference at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"Two years later, we are now on the verge of midterm elections," Mfume said, yet people are still wondering when local, state and federal governments will work together to protect "the right of all Americans to be able to cast a free and unfettered vote, and the right of those Americans to have every belief that vote will be counted and protected."

Michigan received the highest grade, A minus, and just seven other states scored a B minus or better. The civil rights group commended Michigan Secretary of State Candice Miller for creating a Web site that tells residents how to use voting equipment in their communities.

While several states have started to replace punch-card machines, no state has explicitly prioritized replacing its oldest machines, the report said. Many states still use lever machines designed as early as 1911, it said.

The report, by a bipartisan panel appointed by the NAACP, also said:

Most states put off election reform, waiting for federal leadership.

Only 14 chief election officers provide training directly to poll workers. Such training ensures that an election is administered evenly throughout a state, the NAACP said.

The report cards were compiled using answers to surveys the NAACP submitted to state officials.

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