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Elections Are Local Responsibility*

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Report: Elections are 'local responsibility'

By Tom Squitieri


The National Association of Counties, whose members are on the front line of running elections, has warned states and local governments not to solely rely on the federal government for election reform.

In a report to be released this week, the association also cautioned local government about possible federal encroachment on local control.

Up to now, election-reform proposals from many national organizations have focused on how much money the federal government can provide to states and counties to pay for new voting machines, training of poll workers, voter education and other issues.

But the association urges counties to use any new federal or state money to enhance election administration, not supplant existing funds.

''The administration of elections is and must continue to be a local responsibility,'' the report said. ''The commission recommends that reform should be undertaken within the present system rather than creating new systems or imposing nationwide procedures on states and local governments.''

Counties largely pay for elections with their own funds. In 2000, the amount ranged from less than $100,000 for smaller counties to about $2 million for counties with just under 1 million people. The average expenditure for counties with more than 1 million in population was $10.7 million.

''We should not look for a single dramatic solution but for a sustained effort to eliminate all sources of error,'' said Kenneth Mayfield, a Dallas County commissioner and vice president of the organization.

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