Senate Passes Major Election Reform Legislation

PFAW Calls For Full Funding of Strong National Standards, Oversight and Future Fixes on Provisions that Could Disenfranchise Voters

On October 16, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a major election reform bill that authorizes $3.8 billion to help states implement new national standards for voting equipment and procedures; the bill also contains problematic provisions that could have the effect of deterring participation by some voters.

“National election reform has been sorely needed,” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas, “If Congress fully funds the implementation of the new national standards contained in this bill, it will take a major step forward toward ensuring smooth and fair elections.”

People For the American Way worked as part of a broad coalition of civil rights and civic participation organizations lobbying for national election reform legislation. Neas said PFAW and other groups were disappointed by some of the provisions included in the final legislation.

“It’s unfortunate that this significant achievement is marred by the inclusion of provisions that could actually create new obstacles to voting,” said Neas, citing as one example a section of the bill requiring new voters who register by mail - including those who move from one state to another - to present identification when voting. “Congress must carefully monitor the implementation of those provisions and take quick action to prevent them from being used to disenfranchise voters.”

Neas said many civic participation groups are carrying out nonpartisan voter education and election monitoring efforts in this fall’s elections through the Election Protection project.

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