Helping States Reform Voting

Election reform may get a new lease on life, provided House Speaker Dennis Hastert brings a bill forward before the end of the year. As the 2002 elections loom, the House Committee on Administration saw fit to pass a sweeping $2.65 billion bill recently, which essentially helps states pay for new equipment in exchange for compliance with minimum election standards.

Those include improved registration methods and voting machinery, defining what actually constitutes a vote, and $400 million to buy up now- infamous punch-card machines. Many states have considered election reform - but most haven't moved fast enough, nor found ways to pay for it.

The House bill is the only bipartisan election reform to make it out of committee since the razor-thin presidential election. It wisely leaves states with the responsibility of setting the rules for, and implementing, reform. That's a better way than the more restrictive Senate bill.

Surely, lawmakers in both chambers have a vested interest in accurate vote counts and want to improve the fundamentals of American democracy before the next presidential election.

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