To the Editor:

The most significant long-term outcome of the nationwide vote last Tuesday may be the coming of age of a grass-roots election-protection movement.

Based on the experiences of Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, citizens across the country contributed intense scrutiny of electronic voting machines, voter registration requirements and other essentials of our modern democracy.

By and large, their efforts have been well respected and reported.

There is no way to know exactly how this volunteer police work might have affected the results of Tuesday's election. And it is disturbing to see the use of exit polls severely restricted, as they were in reporting the results.

But it is gratifying to see both Republicans and Democrats refusing to concede close races until the last vote is recounted. And it is reassuring to know that a salutary national debate has begun in earnest about exactly what is needed to guarantee a full and fair electoral process.

In the long run, this could make American democracy itself the election's biggest winner.

Harvey Wasserman
Bexley, Ohio, Nov. 8, 2006
The writer is a co-author of a book about the 2004 election in Ohio.

Originally published by The New York Times.