The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday December 5th

Lessons unlearned

The fact that some state races went undecided well past Election Day is a sure indication that there still are big improvements to be made.

One would think that after chaos erupted from the 2000 election officials would have made voting procedures easier and more efficient before contests reached their climax last week.

But that has turned out not to be entirely the case, and some North Carolinian candidates and constituents alike are continuing to feel the consequences.

It's too bad that they are having to wait so long before any final result comes along, and it seems as if more could have been done to avoid such uncertainty.

According to The Associated Press, the races for two Council of State offices are close enough to be subject to a recount.

Candidates and officials have fallen into even deeper confusion because of a voting machine-related breakdown. In Carteret County, an electronic touch-screen system's storage capacity was exceeded, and about 4,500 early ballots were lost permanently.

The races for state commissioner of agriculture and superintendent of public instruction are still in contention. In the former contest, Steve Troxler, a Republican, is leading incumbent Britt Cobb. GOP candidate Bill Fletcher trails Democrat June Atkinson in the latter race. These candidates and incumbents have worked too hard to have to wait so long for a final word.

Four years after thousands of ballots in Florida gave the entire nation headaches, a person reasonably could have assumed that election officials would have worked out the kinks of newer voting machines prior to one of the most significant elections in recent decades.

Just like candidates, these machines should have been vetted months before voters came into play. In Carteret County, at least, that didn't happen.

Provisional ballots, in addition to machine troubles, are to blame for the uncertainty. These votes also are holding up any official announcement of results.

To state that more foresight will be necessary in the future would be to state the obvious. But regardless, the idea needs to be taken even more seriously.

When races are this close in the future, the only major concern of candidates should be the simple difference in the number of votes cast for each.

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