They do it for the Academy Awards, so why not for the presidential elections?

With all the reports coming in yesterday about problems with voting machines breaking down, polling stations running out of paper ballots, and election watchdogs claiming skullduggery in favor of one party or another, it might seem natural for accountants to be pressed into action to audit the vote counting and make sure it's legitimate.

Just distributing the right number of ballots and voting machines to particular polling stations seems to be a challenge in many states. Unfortunately the last few elections have devolved into such a controversial mess that it's probably a task most accountants would be glad to avoid. With yesterday's crowded lines and seemingly record turnout, it's enough to ask someone just to wait long enough to cast a ballot.

However, Election Day has certainly proven to be a field day for another profession: lawyers. Both parties were deploying batteries of election monitors across the country yesterday to stand ready to battle either voter fraud or voter suppression, depending on whatever happened (or didn't) at the polling station.

Technology workers too had a role to play in making sure the latest voting machines didn't start chewing up ballots or showing only blank screens. The machines are supposed to be extensively tested by accredited labs, but even some of the independent testing labs are flunking outside audits, as was the case with one lab that was suspended late last month by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission for failing to follow procedures.

Clearly there needs to be better procedures for making sure elections run smoothly, as they seemingly used to do before the 2000 fiasco. With all the practice accountants have had with designing internal controls for Sarbanes-Oxley 404 compliance for the past six years, maybe it's time the federal government turned to their auditing skills to make sure that, no matter what level of turnout occurs, the voters aren't the losers in the elections.


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