OTHER VOICES

Voting machine audit needed

Posted April 20, 2011, at 8:49 p.m.
Last modified April 21, 2011, at 9:36 p.m.

There have been ongoing complaints about supposed problems with the state’s electronic voting machines since last year’s Democratic primary election, and now the local Council of Governments has taken up the drumbeat.

It’s time to resolve the matter.

The Legislative Audit Council is the obvious choice to investigate performance and security questions raised about the machines, which are used statewide.

Elections officials maintain that the iVotronic machines reliably tally votes and contend that reported problems were the result of human error. There’s no security flaw in the system, officials say.

Even if all that’s true, however, the continuing criticism about the machines has had the effect of diminishing public confidence in their use.

Some complaints have come from a couple of disgruntled candidates who apparently still can’t believe they didn’t do better in last year’s elections.

Nevertheless, troubling discrepancies in vote tallies have been cited in Colleton, Richland and Lancaster counties.

An independent audit of the iVotronic system and its performance during the last election is needed to address the lingering questions about its reliability.

Otherwise, public confidence in the election process is at risk.

The Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier (April 12)

Shutdown debate just the beginning of budget woes

The recent Sturm und Drang in Washington over a possible government shutdown was just a warm-up act for the more significant budget disputes to come this year. Rather than haggling over a few billion dollars in spending, the debate over the budget for the next fiscal year will involve trillions of dollars worth of deficits and debt. And shortly after Congress adopts a budget, it will have to decide whether to raise the limit on federal borrowing beyond the current cap of $14.3 trillion.

From that perspective, the recent brinkmanship over funding the government through Sept. 30 seems like much ado about nothing. Still, the agreement reached last week mattered because lawmakers from both parties made real commitments that should ease the path to compromise on the bigger disputes — assuming they recognize and honor those commitments.

On the Democratic side, merely agreeing to cut domestic discretionary spending instead of freezing it (as President Obama had proposed) concedes that Washington’s focus has shifted. No longer are budget debates going to be about borrowing and spending more to stimulate the economy. Now, the goal is simply to shrink the deficit.

That shift forces Democrats to examine the health care entitlements — Medicare and Medicaid — that are the real source of the long-term deficit problem. Republicans, for their part, agreed last week to continue operating government in the red at least through September.

Some lawmakers are expected to try to make the debt ceiling bill more palatable by throwing in provisions to cut the deficit. But the right places to rein in government borrowing are the budget and spending measures Congress passes every year and the tax cuts that Washington has been passing out like candy for the past decade. Lawmakers should focus their deficit-cutting efforts on those targets.

The Los Angeles Times (April 13)

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