Cook County Clerk David Orr praised members of the U.S. Senate Thursday for passing election reform legislation aimed at correcting the problems exposed in the 2000 presidential election and providing the federal government a more prominent role in overseeing the electoral process.
The bill, which passed 99 to 1, encourages states to upgrade or replace election machinery. It earmarks $3.5 billion in federal funding for new equipment and instituting new procedures.
"Federal election reform is long overdue," Orr said. "This bill will help fix the flaws and inadequacies in elections by requiring election authorities to modernize equipment and implement changes in how elections are conducted to better ensure that every vote counts."
Orr urged the Senate and U.S. House to quickly work out final legislation in conference committee so President Bush can sign it into law.
Along with improving equipment, the Senate bill calls on states to allow voters whose registration is in question to cast a provisional ballot that will count if their eligibility is later verified; provide better access for disabled voters; increase voter education; enhance poll worker training and ensure more accurate voter lists.
"The federal government has a valuable role to play in restoring confidence in elections – the cornerstone of democracy," Orr said. "This bill will point election authorities in the right direction and protect the rights of voters."
Orr serves as election committee chairman for the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks (NACRC). He also was appointed to the 20-member National Commission of Election Standards and Reform, which examined reforms involving voting technology and election procedures.