Senate boosts voting alternatives
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Dec 10, 2000
Spurred by complaints about outdated and faulty voting machines in this
election, a bipartisan Senate bill was unveiled Dec. 5 to fund a federal
study about alternative voting methods and create a grant program for states
to upgrade their systems.
"This is a particularly timely issue because of the problems we've seen
in the 2000 presidential elections," said Erik Hotmire, press secretary
for Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who along with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
is sponsoring the Voting Study and Improvement Act of 2000 (S. 3273)
Under the bill, the
Federal Election Commission would receive $10 million to analyze current
methods and explore new ideas such as computerized voting terminals, mail
voting, Internet voting, redesigned ballots and expanded voting periods.
The bill gives the FEC until Dec. 31, 2001, to complete the study and
make recommendations in time for states to implement new voting systems
for the 2002 mid-term elections.
"That is the hope. Obviously, we have to see how quickly this passes
Congress," Hotmire said.
The bill also directs the FEC to create a $250 million matching grant
program for states to upgrade their systems. States would have to submit
applications to the FEC. The program is voluntary.
Hotmire was unclear whether similar legislation was introduced in the
House of Representatives. If the bill fails to pass in this Congress, it
will be re-introduced in the 107th Congress, said Hotmire, who added that
it has broad bipartisan support among federal, state and local officials.