On Oct. 16, Congress passed a new election reform bill that will hopefully rid elections of hanging chads and disenfranchised voters.
It will be a few years before voters see the effects of the bill, but at least Washington has finally recognized the need for change.
One of the first provisions does away with outdated voting machines.
No more rusty mechanical voting machines that require superhuman upper body strength.
And thankfully, Florida’s punch card system is included as an “outdated” process.
Giving mini-swords to the residents of retirement communities, and telling them to perform surgery on their ballots certainly wasn’t the greatest idea an election official ever had.
Another provision requires first time voters to supply some sort of identification.
This will be useful in preventing voter fraud, as deceased voters and politically conscious pets have managed to cast votes year after year.
According to USA Today, “One voter there in the 2000 elections, Ritzy Meckler, turned out to be a mixed-breed dog.”
The ID provision is the most controversial in the bill.
Opponents feel that it discriminates against the poor because ID, such as a driver’s license, is less available to them.
But ID is required in many aspects of life; voting would just be one more.
Those who purchase tobacco and alcohol must show ID.
Students need ID to access most university services.
And most workers need ID to get into office buildings.
If requiring ID will limit the number of invalid votes, it is worth the minute inconvenience for a voter to obtain it.
The bill will also allow voters to correct errors while casting their votes.
Think of how much trouble would have been avoided in the 2000 presidential election if this reform had been in place.
Provisional ballots will be supplied to people whose voting eligibility is in doubt.
If a person’s name is not listed in the directory, or proof of identity is not available, that person’s vote will be cast and held until the proper proof was provided.
Another provision requires a national database of all registered voters.
This will confirm eligibility faster and more efficiently than separate local directories, which are often outdated.
At each precinct, an alternate voting machine will be provided with easy access for the disabled.
Hopefully, this will eliminate claims of voters being discriminated against because they couldn’t use the voting method at their precinct.
Using the Senate version of the bill, implementing these reforms will cost nearly $4 billion, which is a bargain to fix a system that elects our president.
After a controversial president election, a recently botched gubernatorial election in Florida, and several other election mishaps around the country, it is time for a change.
The only negative aspect surrounding the bill is that it was not passed unanimously.
Two senators, Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, and 48 Congressmen voted against the bill.
Maybe Clinton and Schumer, who are both Democrats, forgot that if it hadn’t been for flaws in the voting process, their party would be in the oval office.
Marea Kasten can be reached at email@example.com