SMITH SEEKS TO IMPROVE ELECTION PROCESS

December 30, 2000 12:00 am

WASHINGTON Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., joined a bipartisan group of legislators last week to introduce the Election Reform Act.

He said the legislation is designed to improve and modernize voting procedures across the nation.

I think this last election made it abundantly clear that the time has come to streamline and update our voting systems outmoded technology and procedures, said Smith.

It is inexcusable that the worlds most advanced democracy relies on voting systems designed shortly after the Second World War.

The act would combine the functions of the Federal Election Commissions Election Clearinghouse and the Department of Defense Office of Voting Assistance into a single Election Administration Commission.

The new commission would provide grants to states to modernize their voting procedures. It would also study federal, state and local voting procedures and election administrations.

The commission also would develop, update and adopt voluntary engineering and procedural performance standards for voting systems every four years.

It would study procedures and make periodic recommendations on the best practices relating to voting technology and ballot design.

The commission would advise states regarding compliance with the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act.

It is imperative that, as we pursue improvements in the administration of our elections, said Smith. We also have the most up-to-date information about the new technologies to enable the elderly and the disabled to vote with the same degrees of privacy and dignity enjoyed by other citizens.

The commission would not usurp the authority of the states to determine the times, places and manner of holding elections, he said.

I believe this legislation will go a long way toward restoring confidence in our voting systems, said Smith. And I am hopeful that the Senate will pass the Election Reform Act very early in the new Congress.

It is imperative that, as we pursue improvements in the administration of our elections, said Smith. We also have the most up-to-date information about the new technologies to enable the elderly and the disabled to vote with the same degrees of privacy and dignity enjoyed by other citizens.