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For Immediate Release
August 7, 2002

Contact: Dan Gwadosky
207-626-8400

Secretary Gwadosky Urges Congress to Pass Election Reform
Newly Elected President of National Association of Secretaries of State Promotes Resolution on Election Reform to Provide Funding to States, including $11M for Maine

During its summer meeting last week, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) endorsed a resolution urging Congress to pass a bipartisan election reform bill before the end of 2002. Maine Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky, newly elected NASS President, is enlisting the assistance of his colleagues to contact their respective congressional delegations to press for action on this initiative. Members of Congress are currently faced with the challenge of assimilating the separate House and Senate bills on this issue.

"Unless the United States 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."

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.

Additionally, the innovative vendors in the elections industry are being hit hard by the apparent stalemate on Capitol Hill. Since the vast majority of states are delaying improvements to their elections systems until Congress acts, many of the companies that design new voting technologies are struggling to maintain their existence.

"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 in this area. 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 U.S. Senate and the U.S. 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.

NASS was established in 1904 to assist Secretaries of State in the public administration of their duties. Over the years, the responsibilities of the office have evolved to include a variety of fields, however, the organization continues to provide these elected officials with information and education for efficient and effective service to the public.