Alas, Florida notwithstanding, it seems that the states will accomplish little or nothing to reform and upgrade archaic voting systems before the 2002 elections, and it's unlikely that any significant effort will be made before the 2004 presidential election.

Indeed, the Congress is footdragging on the issue so important to America's electorate. And President Bush appears not to have given it a second thought. Hopefully, it's not because he might not be re-elected if poor and under-served areas were brought up to speed with high technology voting systems. Clearly, most state and county budgets are strained by the waning economy and energy crunch, so they are hardpressed to accomplish the needed reform. But the federal coffers have a lot more wiggle room to do something about the engine of democracy in dire need of an overhaul.

It has been estimated that it would take about $5 billion to upgrade and standardize state-of-the-art voting systems throughout the nation. That's a paltry amount in terms of the budget surplus, but efficiency and equality for America's voters isn't receiving the priority it demands from our elected representatives.

Certainly, in light of the 2000 presidential election debacle, one would think that standardized voting systems would already be underway. However, as history has proven, those who represent us have little regard for voters until election time - disenfranchisement might be a more accurate description.

Maybe it's time to crank-up state voter initiatives to reform ballot systems, and to push for a constitutional amendment to repeal the corrupted electoral college and elect the next president by popular vote of the people. Surely, inadequate election and electoral systems, exit polls, the media and the courts should not decide elections for us.

Daniel B. Jeffs, founder
The Direct Democracy Center