Compromise Reached on Election Reform Legislation

Compromise Reached on Election Reform Legislation

On Friday, October 4, the joint House/Senate Conference Committee reached an agreement on the election reform legislation which, at various times, has appeared doomed to failure. The conferees have been working around the clock, 7 days a week, to resolve what were essentially "philosophical" differences in the Senate and House versions of HR 3295, both of which addressed an incredible number of failings in the U.S. electoral system.

Overseas voters were not one of the major issues in the conference negotiations but it was feared we would lose the chance for important reforms in the dispute over other issues like first-time voter identification and the degree to which states would be required to comply with the ultimate law.

What's next?

The bills must now go back to the House and Senate and be passed there, before being signed into law by President Bush. According to the New York Times (Saturday, Oct. 5), "House and Senate leaders said they believed the compromise would be quickly approved by the two chambers and signed by President Bush. Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois, and the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota, enthusiastically endorsed it."

After that, the battle will be far from over, as there is no provision for the funding needed by the states. When the new Congress meets early next year, that must be our top priority, if the reforms are to be implemented in time for the 2004 elections.

What can you do?

You can write to the chief negotiators in the House and Senate (Congressmen Bob Ney and Congressman Steny Hoyer, responsible for the House bill, and Senator Christopher Dodd and Senator Mitch McConnell, who drafted the Senate legislation) to thank them and encourage them to get the bills passed before Congress adjourns. You can also write to the majority leaders in the House and Senate (Speaker Dennis Hastert in the House and Senator Tom Daschle) to urge them to move for quick passage of the bills (see {ln:Contact information} for all 6). And of course, you should write to your own Representative and Senators (you can find their contact information at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov) and tell them how important it is for them to pass these bills!

Lastly, you can keep an eye on this same page, for information on the specific details that concern overseas voters in the compromise bill (to be posted as soon as possible after October 7).

FAWCO U.S. Liaison

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