Recent Push for Bipartisan Voter Reform Measures
by Lateefah Williams*, 10/30/2009
Recent efforts to reform and modernize the voter system have received bipartisan support. The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which would allow overseas troops and American citizens to access voter information online, passed Congress last week with bipartisan support from legislators who "decried an antiquated voting system that left as many as one out of four overseas ballots uncounted," according to Roll Call.
In August, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would enable individuals who voted by absentee ballot to track the status of their ballots online. Also, a bill that would expand no-excuse absentee voting has passed in the House Administration Committee.
Another bill currently before Congress would "require all states to offer online voter registration by 2012," according to Roll Call. This would be a major challenge for the vast majority of the country and would require most states to significantly upgrade their procedures. Currently, "only six states offer some form of online voter registration, while half allow voters to verify their registration online. For most states, the voting system is a hodgepodge of snail mail, voter registration drives and polling places," according to Roll Call.
The online voter registration bill would bring the voter registration process in line with the convenience of other aspects of daily living. "Many voters expect to be able to register to vote online as part of their normal routine," Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), the sponsor of the bill, told Roll Call. "They are used to the convenience of online tools in their daily life and registering to vote should be just as easy and accessible as banking and bill paying," Lofgren said.
Brian Fallon, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee spokesman, told Roll Call that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the committee, is "working on a bill to ‘modernize’ the voting system."
Republicans have some concerns about voter fraud, but agree that the system should be modernized.