House Approves `Motor Voter' Bill

CONGRESSIONAL Democrats are raising images of democratic reforms in Eastern Europe and the civil rights movement in the United States to pressure President Bush into backing a bill to expand voter registration. Over White House objections, the House approved the bill 289 to 132 on Tuesday and sent the measure to the Senate. Sixty-one of the chamber's 175 Republicans broke with party leaders to vote for the proposal.

The so-called motor-voter bill requires states to include voting registration forms with driver's license applications and to establish procedures to sign up voters by mail and at numerous government offices. It would take effect in January 1993.

The bill is aimed at dwindling voter turnout, which dipped to 50 percent of the 120 million registered voters in the 1988 presidential polling. Experts say about 60 million Americans who are eligible to vote are not registered.

Saying the bill would be the broadest extension of voting rights since the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Rep. John Lewis (D) of Georgia said, ``We should not be afraid to open fully the doors of political participation and let the people come in.''

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