29 May 2005

Review of US voting laws brings mixed response

Photo ID efforts to halt fraud also raise concerns

Michael Conlon, Reuters | May 29, 2005

CHICAGO -- Long lines, challenged ballots, and two of the closest presidential elections in the country's history have touched off a landslide of proposals to change voting laws across the United States."

Some are hailed as much-needed upgrades that will assure everyone of a vote with no fraud; others are alarming civil libertarians who fear new restrictions could disenfranchise the poor and others at society's margins.

The National Council of State Legislatures, which tracks law-making developments, has compiled a list of proposals, some of them competing, that have surfaced this year in 26 states, covering 21 pages.

Many deal with a central issue -- proof of identity for valid voters. But other proposals being debated include stiffer training for poll workers, allowing voters to register on or closer to the day of an election, making it illegal to pay someone to register voters, harsher penalties for voter-registration fraud, guidelines for casting provisional ballots, and upgrades to election equipment.

In any state, the changes generally require approval by both the legislature and governor.


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