- July 25 - We are encouraged that House Republicans have taken an important step
and put a compromise election reform proposal on the table. The proposal represents
some limited progress in key areas.
Unfortunately, while taking one step forward, this proposal takes at least
two steps back. The proposal pays lip service to our major concerns, but the fine
print reveals a different story.
House Republicans have removed a significant obstacle to enforcing the minimum
standards in the legislation and have made clear that student identification will
be accepted at the polls.
However, they have weakened those very standards by removing critical language
addressing the types of mechanical errors that disenfranchised so many citizens
in the 2000 elections and stripping important provisions guaranteeing disabled
voters equal access to the secret ballot.
The proposal also contains two major rollbacks of the National Voter Registration
Act, often called Motor Voter. The document maintains the worst provision in the
House bill-allowing states to purge occasional voters and denying those removed
from the rolls unnecessarily the opportunity to correct the mistake at the polls.
This provision alone will likely disenfranchise millions of legitimate voters.
Finally, this proposal goes a step further in rolling back voter protections.
The legislation would actually require voters to present a drivers license number
or the last four digits of a social security number just to register to vote.
The goal of election reform has always been to make voting easier for qualified
Americans. This is reflected in the title of the bill-the Help America Vote Act.
Unfortunately, this new proposal seems more focused on keeping people out of polling
places than on laying down the red carpet for those who were needlessly disenfranchised
U.S. PIRG is the national
lobbying office for the state Public Interest Research Groups. State PIRGs are
non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy groups.