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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 25, 2002
3:34 PM
CONTACT:  U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Adam Lioz, alioz@pirg.org, (202) 546-9707
Public Interest and Civil Rights Groups Assail House Republican Election Reform Proposal
Statement of U.S. PIRG Democracy Advocate Adam Lioz
 
WASHINGTON - 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 in 2000.

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.

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