Senate OKs $4 billion election reform bill

The Senate has given its final approval to a bill that would provide $3.9 billion to states to upgrade voting equipment and make other improvements to the election process.

The Senate's 92-2 vote Oct. 16 came several days after members of the joint House-Senate Conference Committee announced that they had reached an agreement on the bill. The House of Representatives approved the conference report Oct. 10, with a vote of 357-48. The bill now awaits President Bush's signature.

If approved by the president, the legislation would authorize provisional ballots, require states to develop uniform and nondiscriminatory statewide voter registration lists and establish an election assistance commission to help the states.

In reference to the debacle in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said the legislation would help the nation "move beyond the days of hanging chads, butterfly ballots and illegal purges of voters and accusations of voter fraud."

Dodd, who is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, managed the floor debate on the conference report.

The bill authorizes the federal government to provide the funds over the next three years to help states replace and renovate voting equipment, train poll workers, educate voters, upgrade voter lists, make polling places more accessible for the disabled and meet other election administration purposes.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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