House Election Bill Lacks Strong Voting Standards

Dec. 12, 2001

House Election Bill Lacks Strong Voting Standards

Statement of Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen

The House today passed a weak election “reform” bill that will do too little to ensure that every vote counts. The Ney-Hoyer bill fails to promote meaningful reform just as surely as the butterfly ballot failed the voters of Palm Beach County, Fla. in last year?s presidential election.

It?s a sad testament to the spirit of reform that House leaders decided the only way to pass this defective voting rights bill was to deny members the right to vote on amendments to the bill.

Public Citizen applauds the nearly 200 members who voted against this undemocratic procedure and also voted for the motion to recommit to bring the bill back to the floor with a strong civil rights package. The chief sponsors of the civil rights package were Reps. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Chris Shays (R-Conn.).

Ney-Hoyer fails to provide strong national voting standards, even as a condition for $2.65 billion in federal assistance for improving voting systems. It fails to mandate voting systems that notify voters if they have voted for too few or too many candidates, so they can correct their errors. It fails to mandate national standards to make polling places and voting systems accessible to individuals with disabilities and those with limited English language proficiency. It fails to require that voters be notified of their right to file a provisional ballot if they believe their eligibility to vote is wrongly challenged. It fails to require nationally mandated standards for the error rate of voting machines. And it changes the Motor Voter Law, making it easier for states to purge registered voters from the rolls.

Americans now look to the Senate to prevent future election fiascoes. Both major proposals ? the Dodd and the McConnell-Schumer bills ? are stronger than Ney-Hoyer. We hope that today?s unfortunate House vote will spur senators to quickly conclude their negotiations for a bipartisan compromise bill. Strong Senate action is indispensable to crafting a final product that is more than a Band-Aid to this gaping wound to our democracy.

Click here to see how your Member voted on the?motion to recommit?the Help America Vote Act of 2001.

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