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An Election Reformer's Wish List An Election Reformer's Wish List

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Legacy Content / ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

An Election Reformer's Wish List

November 19, 2008

Universal Voter Registration

No. 1 on the Christmas list of most voting rights advocates is some form of universal voter registration. Their goal: Make all eligible citizens automatically able to vote -- and keep them permanently registered, even if they change jurisdictions. There is some debate over whether to keep voter registration at the state level or maintain voter rolls at a federal level.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is working on legislation that would reform the way voters are registered.

 

"This election has once again demonstrated the pressing need to modernize our voter registration system," said Dan Schwerin, Clinton's deputy press secretary. "Senator Clinton has been working for years on ways to improve the voter registration system in our country, and believes that states need a greater role in creating accurate and secure lists of registered voters to ensure that every eligible American citizen is on our voting rolls."

Harsher Penalties For Dirty Tricks

The nonpartisan hot line 866-OUR-VOTE logged more than 700 complaints about voter intimidation on Nov. 4. With dirty tricks moving online, there appears to be no end in sight for voter suppression activities.

Some election reform advocates want to ramp up the criminal and civil penalties for spreading misinformation, but so far they haven't had much luck. The 2007 Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, which would have established criminal penalties for spreading voter misinformation, passed the House but died in the Senate.

Expand Early Voting

The benefits of early voting are many, reform advocates say. This year, states that let voters cast their ballots in person before Election Day had fewer machine malfunctions because poll workers gained familiarity with the equipment and worked out kinks. And states with high early voting turnout, either in person or by mail, enjoyed shorter lines on Nov. 4.

Last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced the Ballot Integrity Act, which would have required all states to offer some form of early voting. The legislation was tabled after receiving lukewarm support from congressional Republicans.

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