In today’s society, most individuals believe that the right to vote is one of the most central and fundamental aspects of our democracy. The ability or inability of individuals to participate in the political process, in fact, presents the greatest strength or weakness of any democratic institution. In addition, since the eradication of literacy tests and poll taxes, the franchise has provided an effective tool to protect against the political oppression of minorities. Excitingly, this year’s Presidential Election will likely attract thousands of individuals who have never encountered a voting machine. Unfortunately, many of them may find themselves disenfranchised.

This November, a number of states plan to introduce new technology during the election season that is designed to detect voter fraud. While the equipment is designed to improve our electoral process, critics fear that the poor ballot design will only confuse the “elderly, low-income and newly registered voters.” Additionally, a significant number of minorities are finding that their voter registrations are being disputed because their information does not match what is found in the new databases. One article coined the ballot designs as the new “literacy tests” of our generation.

Even with a “top-notch” database, we are likely to see a rise in human error. Federal officials must pay special attention to the technology unless they want to risk an even bigger crisis than the election of 2004. It is clear that the United States continues to strive to reach its goal of democracy. However, in order to do this, we must remain aware of the aspects of our electoral system that threaten to undermine our ability to ensure that every individual maintains his right to vote.

Misty Johnson

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