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For Immediate Release
Secretary Gwadosky to
Meet with Attorney General John Ashcroft and Members of Congress Tomorrow
on Election Reform Issues
Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky will be meeting with U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft on behalf of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) to discuss election reform issues and seek assistance in moving election reform legislation forward in Congress. Attorney General Ashcroft requested the meeting with Secretary Gwadosky, NASS President, in light of recent election day problems during the Florida primary and with an eye to the November 5, 2002 General Election.
"This November, voters across the United States will return to the polls for the first candidate elections since the 2000 Presidential Election," said Secretary Gwadosky. "All eyes will be on election officials as they undertake their duties to administer these elections. NASS is pleased to have been invited by Attorney General Ashcroft to discuss the important issues that still remain outstanding in the area of election reform."
Secretary Gwadosky will also be meeting with members of Congress who are currently conferring and seeking compromise on competing House and Senate bills on election reform. In order to avoid a repeat of the election problems documented in 2000, most states will require extensive upgrades to their voting equipment and processes. But improvements to voting equipment and voter registration systems are costly, and during this period of tight state budgets, they are unlikely to occur without significant federal assistance.
"We are fortunate in Maine that our election process already has many centralized features and standards that other states are seeking to obtain," continued Secretary Gwadosky. "All state ballots are prepared by my office and delivered to the municipalities; all recounts are conducted by my office; and Maine leads the nation in ballot access with same day registration and any reason absentee voting."
However, Maine can still benefit from Congressional action. Under the current versions of the election reform bill before the conference committee, Maine would be eligible for up to $11 million that could be utilized to implement a central voter registration system and to help municipalities purchase optical scanning voting machines.
Since the November 2000 presidential election, NASS and its members have worked with leaders in the US Senate and the US House of Representatives to craft sensible, bipartisan legislation that will address the problems that came to light in that election year. NASS is committed to ensuring fair, accurate, reliable and accessible elections in this country.
"Unless Congress acts to adopt legislation
and accompanying appropriations for election reforms before the end
of 2002, many states will be unable to make improvements to their election
processes and systems in time for 2004-the next major presidential election
year," stated Secretary Gwadosky. "Congressional action by
the end of this year is particularly important to states with legislatures
that meet on a biennial basis. These states need an immediate indication
of whether federal assistance or directives will be forthcoming if they
are to complete election reform work during the next two years."