Election procedures need reforming

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Who would have thought it?

Who would have thought that Alabama would become a mini Florida in the next election following the Presidential debacle.

Last week I mentioned in my column that we need serious campaign reform to get rid of the negative advertising and the character assassination which went on in this past election.

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Your response to that was overwhelming: you agreed with me almost to the person.

After experiencing what we have gone through this past week, I think we should add to that &uot;election reform&uot;.

It is a bad mark on our system that we have conflicting laws respecting the election of public officials.

We should either allow recounts of ballots or not allow them.

We should all vote on machines or all vote on paper ballots.

We should all have the same time period in which to cast our vote.

We should all count the votes at the same time and report them to a common source.

And I could go on and on.

These things do not crop up, as we say, except in rare instances, but when they do it puts the spotlight on just how important rules and procedures are with respect to fair elections.

There has been speculation that a resolution to the governor’s race might go to the Legislature.

I can assure you that the Legislature is no place to solve any statewide race between two candidates, whether for governor or any other office.

There is more &uot;politics&uot; in the Legislature, by far, than among the individual counties.

Everyone has their suggestion on how to resolve the governor’s race, and I have mine.

Given the history of the handling of the ballots in Baldwin County, I think that county’s ballots should be recounted just to make sure they are accurate.

I know of no other problem in any other county in the state, so I see no reason to expand a recount beyond Baldwin County.

If someone were to come forward with a legitimate concern in another county, then I think that should be considered as well.

But just to engage in a wholesale recount of all the votes in Alabama would, in my opinion, be unjustified and certainly unprecedented.

With respect to the election, I have made several observations.

First, the Alabama Legislature will mirror the membership of the past four years.

In the Senate, thirty of the thirty-five senators were returned to office.

I know I am considered prejudice, because I am one, but the truth of the matter is the Legislature was very responsive to the taxpayers during the past four years.

Despite a declining national economy, and a public education budget in proration, the Legislature found solutions to the education problems without imposing any new property, income or sales taxes.

This is not true of our surrounding states.

The Legislature also passed new laws relating to economic development which resulted in the acquisition of three automotive plants during the past four years.

This is the same Legislature that also passed tort reform and many other significant measures which had been stalled in the process for almost a decade.

Perhaps the vote for senators on Election Day was reflective of the assessment of the Legislature for the past four years.

This is not to say much work is not ahead of us — it is.

In fact, I have outlined in the last two columns some major issues which must be addressed.

On a personal note, let me thank you for the confidence you have expressed in me.

I will continue to do my best to effectively and fairly represent your interests.

On a statewide level, my observation is that Alabamians have long since learned how to split a ticket.

The new Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and Agriculture Commissioner are democrats and the new Treasurer, Auditor and very likely the Governor are all Republicans.

To me this represents a nice maturity which our state has reached and it should serve us very well.

Until next time, remember, &uot;I’ll go with you or I’ll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government.

You may reach me at 334-242-7883 or write me at P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing to P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049.