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New Bipartisan Group Calls for Voter Registration Reform

By Dan Eggen
In the wake of another presidential election featuring disputed allegations of voter fraud, a bipartisan group of former lawmakers and elections experts is banding together to call for streamlining America's outmoded registration system.

The Committee to Modernize Voter Registration, announced at a press conference Monday, includes former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, former Missouri senator John Danforth and former House members Harold Ford Jr. (Tenn.) and Susan Molinari (N.Y.). The panel will be led by lawyers Marc Elias, who led the recount effort for Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Trevor Potter, former general counsel for the 2000 and 2008 campaigns of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Organizers say the committee will focus on making recommendations for Congress and the states to consider as they update the country's voter registration system, which now consists of a patchwork of locally run systems largely dependent on paper records.

Potter said in a statement that the panel "will help ensure that the effort remains focused and bipartisan."

"Both parties recognize that having a 19th Century voter registration system for the 21st Century is not where we want to be," he said. "There is a window of opportunity to put in place a modern system that matches our technology."

The formation of the panel was announced at the National Press Club along with the release of a study by the Pew Center on the States, which calls the current system "outdated, costly and inaccurate."

"These outmoded practices and procedures create a system that is susceptible to human error from start to finish," the center said in a summary of its findings.

The Pew group suggests creating common standards for voter records to allow sharing of data, with the eventual goal of giving each citizen a single voter record that can be easily updated as they move around.

Calls for modernizing voter registration have arisen regularly in reaction to emotional election disputes. The 2000 presidential race resulted in a hard-fought recount battle that eventually ended in favor of Republican George W. Bush, prompting federal legislation revising vote-count procedures. Last year's presidential race also included GOP criticisms of the tactics used by Acorn and other liberal groups that manage voter-registration drives.

But moves toward uniformity have also met objections from critics concerned about privacy and security issues.

In addition to prominent lawyers and politicians, the modernization committee includes Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and several state and local elections officials.

By Web Politics Editor  |  August 31, 2009; 1:38 PM ET
Categories:  The Voters  
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I believe that the problem with inaccuracies in voter registration come from outside the states. Organizations like Acorn should not be allowed to register voters. That is a function that should be relegated to the states. There should also be a deadline to register prior to an election so that the so called provisional ballot in not an issue. Here is Nevada you can register at the DMV or the County registrar's office. If you are too lazy to get up off the couch and register, maybe you are too disinterested in the process to vote anyway.

Posted by: gasman2408 | September 1, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse


I dunno, sounds like a backdoor way to impose a National ID Card and get naive "goo-goos" to sign off on it.

Kind of like getting Congress to approve multi-billions for digital TV, so it can be weaponized and used as a surveillance tool, perhaps?

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 31, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Voting is definitely part of the problem, but right now we need to work on the problems like government health care, and cap and trade.

Posted by: almek11 | August 31, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm all in favor of reform. I don't think registration is the problem, but the outmoded voting-systems are.

Posted by: dadada | August 31, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

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