Election Reform Gets Bipartisan Boost

The day after the House of Representatives passed its own version of election reform, a bipartisan Senate proposal was announced that will authorize spending $3.4 billion over five years.

The House calls for $2.65 billion to upgrade voting equipment and procedures, but the Senate bill goes further in what it requires of state and local election officials.

Among the provisions of the Senate bill are a requirement that voters be allowed to cast provisional votes if their registration is challenged. The provisional vote would be counted if registration was later proved to be valid.

Other provisions include that voters be notified if they vote for more than one candidate in a single office; voters will have an opportunity to change their ballots before casting their votes; and voters will be given a replacement ballot if they are unable to correct an error.

The Senate proposal was made Dec. 13 by a bipartisan group from the Senate Rules Committee, including committee chairman Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the ranking Republican Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Kit Bond, R-Mo., and Robert Torricelli, D-N.J.

Both the House and Senate versions include a provision that states create statewide voter registration systems that are linked electronically to each polling place.

While the House bill passed by a vote of 363 to 63 on Dec. 12, there is no vote scheduled in the Senate and published reports quoted Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., as saying there probably isn't enough time to bring the proposal to a full vote by the end of the year.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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