- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2001

Senators introduced a bipartisan election reform measure yesterday that would place more mandates on states than a similar bill in the House, but would provide more money to meet the new requirements.
The Senate bill would demand that states make voting machines accessible to the disabled at every polling place.
It will only allow states to use machines that enable voters to correct ballots and be alerted if they vote for more than one candidate for an office.
Multiple votes, inexact ballots and punch-card machines are one legacy of the 2000 elections, and senators said they want to make sure that the confusion prevalent in last year's presidential vote is never repeated.
"I voted for the first time in 1969, and when I voted this past November, I voted exactly the same way I did in 1969, on big, old, clunky voting machines. It hadn't changed," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and one of the new bill's sponsors. "Simply because we have the world's oldest democracy doesn't mean we have to have the world's oldest voting equipment."
The compromise bill adds more momentum to the movement to institute election reform following last year's contested presidential election in Florida.
The full House passed a reform bill Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Bush vs. Gore that ended the Florida recount.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said there is not enough time to take up the bill this year, but he promised it will be a priority next year.
The presentation of the compromise measure yesterday to reporters at a news conference was in stark contrast to the tone set in August, when Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, pushed his version of election reform through the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.
The committee voted 10-0 to approve his bill, but only because all eight Republicans on the panel boycotted the meeting to protest what ranking member, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said was a lack of Republican input on the measure.
Throughout the process, the two sides have approached the issue very differently. Democrats generally say the problem is due to voter intimidation and errors committed by election officials or voting equipment that denied some the right to vote.
Republicans, meanwhile, have focused on eliminating election fraud.
"I like dogs, and I have respect for the dearly departed, but I don't want to see them vote," said Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican.
Final details of the Senate bill are being worked out, but both the House and Senate versions require states to maintain a computerized registration system linked to localities.
That should help prevent some instances of fraud and also allow officials quickly to determine if someone should be allowed to vote.
Both bills set up an advisory commission to study good voting equipment, and also require states to offer provisional voting, which means letting someone whose name isn't on the local election rolls vote and then checking their registration later.
The biggest difference is the Senate bill requires states by 2006 to do away with voting machines that don't meet certain standards, while the House measure offers financial incentives to encourage states to phase out old equipment.
The Senate bill calls for $3.4 billion over five years to pay for the states' needs, while the House bill calls for $2.65 billion over three years.


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