updated 11/30/2006 9:51:55 AM ET 2006-11-30T14:51:55

The midterm elections were either a resounding victory for voters or a spectacular fiasco, a study released Wednesday concluded simultaneously.

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While the election allowed voters to pick winners, the value of individual ballots weren't always guaranteed, according to a Pew Charitable Trust report.

"Although the words 'meltdown' or 'catastrophe' don't come close to describing our election experience, the problems do require our immediate attention," said Ray Martinez, a former vice chair of the Election Assistance Commission and now an adviser to Pew.

Any problem one too many
Instead, "hiccup" and "glitch" were better descriptions for the Nov. 7 elections, when some voters met long lines, confusing technology and uneven enforcement of election rules.

"Any problem a voter encounters is one problem too many," said Doug Chapin of electionline.org, one of the report's contributors.

Observers cited the recount in Florida's 13th Congressional District in calling for more auditing.

In that district, state elections workers are investigating why 18,000 voters didn't chose between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings. The percentage of skipped votes in Sarasota County is about six times higher than in the district's other counties, prompting Jennings to sue and argue machine malfunction.

A manual recount showed Buchanan won the House seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Katherine Harris by 369 votes.

A paper ballot, however, wouldn't fix everything, Chapin said.

"Had Sarasota County been using optical scan ballots, it may have created other problems," Chapin said. "The lesson we need to keep in mind: There's no silver-bullet solution in voting."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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