(Senate - October 15, 2002)

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[Pages S10412-S10423]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will now 
proceed to the consideration of the conference report accompanying H.R. 
3295, which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The committee of conference on the disagreeing votes of the 
     two Houses on the amendments of the Senate to the bill (H.R. 
     3295) to require States and localities to meet uniform and 
     nondiscriminatory election technology and administration 
     requirements applicable to Federal elections, to establish 
     grant programs to provide assistance to States and localities 
     to meet those requirements and to improve election technology 
     and the administration of Federal elections, to establish the 
     Election Administration Commission, and for other purposes, 
     having met, have agreed that the House recede from its 
     disagreement to the amendment of the Senate, and agree to the 
     same with an amendment, signed by a majority of the conferees 
     on the part of both Houses.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate will proceed to the consideration 
of the conference report.
  (The report is printed in the House proceedings of the Record of 
October 8, 2002.)
  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I am very pleased this afternoon to bring to 
the attention of the Senate the conference report agreement on 
legislation to reform our Nation's election laws. I anticipate we will 
not need the full time allocated. I would like to think Members are so 
interested they would like to come over and share their thoughts with 
us on this subject. But knowing there are no votes today, that is not 
likely to occur so we will probably use a lot less time than the 2 
hours required.
  I note the presence of my friend and colleague, Senator McConnell, 
the ranking member of the Rules Committee.
  Before getting to the substance of my remarks, let me begin by 
thanking him and his staff, and the staff of Senator Bond as well, one 
of our conferees, and that of my own two conferees on the Democratic 
side, Senators Durbin and Schumer, and their staffs, not to mention my 
own staff, Kennie Gill and others, for the tremendous work done on the 
Senate side of this effort.
  It is somewhat ironic. I understand we are going to get this done. It 
is a quiet afternoon after Columbus Day. Members are still back in 
their States having spent the weekend with their families before 
returning tomorrow when we will have some additional votes as we begin 
to wind up this 107th Congress. It is somewhat ironic in a sense that 
we are in this sort of quiet stillness of this Chamber with only two of 
us here to talk, when you consider what gave rise to this legislation--
the fact that there was one of the most tumultuous elections in the 
history of

[[Page S10413]]

our country that galvanized the attention, not only of the people of 
this country but those throughout the world. For more than a month, 
every single news program, day in and day out, 24 hours a day, was of 
eyes peering through hanging chads and people bellowing at each other 
in a voting precinct in Florida, with courtrooms packed, around the 
corner from here, in the United States Supreme Court.
  The irony is all of that turmoil provoked us to step up and find out 
whether our election laws could do with some changing--not that it all 
occurred in Florida or in just the 2000 election--but today, as we 
approach the second anniversary of that election, we find ourselves in 
a quiet Chamber with a couple of Members talking about something that 
both of us believe is a rather historic piece of legislation.
  When you consider that unlike other matters that come before this 
body, despite the fact that our colleagues may claim expertise in every 
subject matter that comes before them, this is truly one in which each 
Member who serves here is an expert because they would not have arrived 
here had they not been elected. To that extent, we have an appreciation 
of elections beyond the awareness of the average citizen in this 
country. So the fact that we--as Democrats and Republicans, in a time 
when people question whether or not we can come to terms about some of 
the major issues of the day, can take a subject matter so rife with 
partisanship as an election, with all of the scars, the wounds, the 
admonitions, the rhetoric, the demagoguery, use whatever words you 
want--were able in this Congress to craft legislation that passed the 
other body by a substantial margin, and passed this body 99 to 1, and 
then the conference report passed the House by a vote of 357-48, and we 
hope a substantial vote will occur here as well, is a tribute to the 
membership of this body, to the leadership of this body, and the other 
body as well--that we were able to get this done.
  If I may say so, I have been here 21 years. I have had proud moments 
when I have been involved in other legislative efforts. None exceeds 
the sense of pride I have over this particular accomplishment. Again, 
no one can ever claim that they were responsible in a legislative 
process for the final result. A lot of people can take legitimate 
credit for helping us achieve what we are asking our colleagues to 
support tomorrow when we vote before noon.
  This agreement, as it said, represents many mouths of effort. That 
effort took place amid a steady stream of news reports that predicted 
the demise of election reform. While those reports bewailed the lack of 
progress in conference negotiations, they overlooked the fact that, 
instead of a lack of progress, conferees were making progress. Working 
quietly during early mornings, late nights, and long weekends, we 
crafted the conference agreement that is before the Senate this 
  It is a bipartisan and bicameral agreement. It is one that, I 
believe, merits the support of our colleges in the Senate.
  It is one that has already been approved by the other body by a vote 
of 357 to 48. And it is one that the Administration has said the 
President is prepared to sign.
  Twenty-three months ago, our Nation was thrown into turmoil because 
we learned a painful reality: that our democracy does not work as well 
as we thought it did, or as it should. More than 100 million citizens 
went to the polls on election day 2000--November 7. Four to six million 
of them--for a variety of reasons--never had their votes counted. Some 
were thwarted by faulty machinery. Some were victims of wrongful and 
illegal purges from voter lists. Others fell victim to poorly designed 
ballots. But all of them--all--were denied the right to effectively 
exercise their most fundamental right as American citizens: the right 
to vote.
  Regardless of which candidate one supported, there is no disagreement 
that election day 2000 was not a proud day for our democracy.
  It was a day of deep embarrassment for a nation rightly viewed by the 
rest of the world as a beacon light of self-government. But that day 
was also, in a very real sense, a gift. Had there never been a 
contested election like the election of 2000, the problems plaguing our 
Nation's elections would likely never have been addressed. So it was in 
a sense a gift. If you were to find a silver lining in what occurred 
that day, what we are producing and asking our colleagues to support 
may be it.
  The legislation we present to the Senate today goes a long way toward 
fixing those problems and righting those wrongs. It does justice to the 
American voter. It breaks new ground. It is, I believe, the first civil 
rights legislation of the 21st century. It is not a perfect bill. But 
it will make our democracy work better and be stronger.
  Two hundred and thirteen years ago at the Constitutional Convention 
in Philadelphia, the Framers decreed that the administration of federal 
elections is not the job of just the States, or just the Federal 
Government, but the job of both.
  Until now, that vision of cooperation and partnership has largely 
been honored in the breach. The Federal Government has for the most 
part been an observer, not a partner, in the conduct of elections for 
Federal office.
  Starting now, with this legislation, that pattern comes to an end. 
For the first time--if you exclude the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in 
which the Federal Government told States what not to do--they must not 
levy poll taxes, must not set literacy tests--the National Government 
steps up to more fully meet its constitutional duty to uphold the 
soundness and sancity of the ballot. This is the first time the Federal 
Government is saying what we must do together to make our elections 
stronger. With this bill, we move closer to the day when every vote 
cast will be a vote counted.
  Our bill achieves this progress in three ways: with new rights, new 
responsibilities, and new resources.
  First, new rights. The conference agreement establishes new voting 
rights for our citizens. These include:
  The right--starting in 2004--to cast a provisional ballot. With this 
right, no qualified voter can ever again be turned away from the 
polling place without being able to cast at least a provisional ballot. 
There are some States that are doing this already and have been for 
years. Many do not.
  The right to check and correct one's ballot if the voter made a 
mistake. I know this is a radical idea. In this way, voters need never 
again leave a polling place haunted by the thought that they voted for 
the wrong candidate, or nullified their own vote by over-voting.
  The right of all voters to cast a private and independent ballot. 
Today, millions of disabled Americans face two options on election day, 
both of them bad: they either vote with the assistance of a stranger, 
or they do not vote at all. In the 2000 elections alone, some 20 
million of them took the second option--because the barriers to the 
ballot box were just too daunting.
  With this legislation, henceforth--beginning in the year 2006--those 
days will come to an end. Starting with this bill, a disabled voter 
will have the same right to cast a private and independent ballot as 
any other voter.
  That provision dealing with providing for accessibility improvements 
in voting systems may not be required to go into effect until 2006. 
Obviously, some States may do that before. There is something in this 
bill that says you cannot do that. But at the very least, by the year 
  The bill also creates the right to have, at each polling place, 
printed, posted information, including a sample ballot and a listing of 
voter rights and responsibilities. In this way, our bill will sharply 
reduce the risk of confusion and error on election day.
  In addition, our bill requires states to develop ``uniform and 
nondiscriminatory'' standards for counting ballots--because whether or 
not your ballot will count should never depend on the county or 
precinct where you happen to live and the economic circumstances there.
  Second, our bill establishes new responsibilities--for voters, for 
States, and for the Federal Government.
  To address concerns about fraud, voters seeking to vote for the first 
time in a state will be responsible for producing some form of 
identification. Senator Bond was particularly instrumental in crafting 
these provisions. We thank him.
  States will be responsible for producing statewide computerized lists 
of registered voters. Once these lists are up and running, it is our 
hope and expectation that the risk that individuals

[[Page S10414]]

may be voting multiple times in multiple jurisdictions will be 
minimized if not eliminated altogether.
  Let me add, by the way, that when it comes to the computerized 
statewide lists, a voter may not have to register again. If you live in 
a State that provides for state-wide registration, or wants to provide 
for state-wide registration, this requirement will facilitate that so 
that if you move around in that State from one county to another, or 
from one community to the next, a statewide voter registration list 
means you don't have to register again. If you move from one community 
and one precinct to the other, with the statewide list, you register 
once. If you stay in that State, you may be registered forever in that 
State regardless of where you may live or move to under state-wide 
  That is not an insignificant burden we are lifting for many people in 
this country who move. If they are renters who can't afford homes and 
who want to participate in the process, every time they move from one 
precinct to the next, they have to register to vote. That will be over 
with, under state law providing for state-wide registration once 
provisions on the statewide voter registration requirements of this 
bill become effective.
  To ensure that the requirements of the bill are met, States will also 
be required to establish meaningful enforcement procedures to remedy 
voters' grievances. And at the federal level, the Department of Justice 
will be responsible for enforcing the provisions of the act.
  Third, this legislation would commit unprecedented new resources to 
improving and upgrading all aspects of our elections. It authorizes 
some $3.9 billion over the next three years to help states replace and 
renovate voting equipment, train poll workers, educate voters, upgrade 
voter lists, and make polling places more accessible for the disabled.
  I thought it worthwhile to note that since the elections of 2000, 
only three States--maybe a couple more--have made any effort at all to 
reform and update their election laws and requirements that voters use 
in the various States. It is always costly to do this. Frankly, as the 
Presiding Officer, a former Governor, can attest, when there are budget 
constraints and a lot of demands are being made, there has not been a 
great constituency out there advocating spending money to buy new 
voting equipment, or new voting machinery, or to train poll workers. 
There are many other demands on a State budget that have much larger 
constituencies than those who might say we ought to improve the voting 
systems of the country. The fact of matter is, despite a public outcry 
about all of this, there has been very little action over the years--
even in the wake of the 2000 elections.
  So it seems clear to us that if we are truly going to command States, 
in a number of provisions, to do things differently, to suggest that 
they do so without providing the resources would be yet once again an 
unfunded mandate. We know how States feel about Federal requirements 
when there are not resources to support meeting those requirements.
  This legislation provides $3.9 billion--some that will flow 
immediately, and others subject to development of state plans and 
submission of applications. I will not go into all the details this 
afternoon. But the idea is that the Federal Government is going to 
become a real partner financially in the conduct of these elections. It 
does not mean the conduct of elections is going to be fully supported 
by the Federal Government. Obviously, States, communities, and 
municipalities have to allocate resources for every election. But with 
these changes we are talking about, the costs, by and large, are going 
to be borne by the Federal Government. This is the first time we will 
become such an active participate in improving the election systems of 
our country.
  Lastly, this legislation establishes a new commission--the Election 
Assistance Commission--to assist states and voters. I want to 
acknowledge Senator McConnell's pivotal role in conceiving of this 
commission. In coming years, it will serve as an important source of 
new ideas and support for states as they take steps to improve the 
caliber of their elections.
  It allows us to have an ongoing relationship with election officials 
at the State and local level day in and day out rather than waiting for 
some crisis to occur or for some disastrous election result where we 
then go out and form some ad hoc commission to go back and look at what 
  For the first time, we are going to have a permanent commission that 
doesn't have rulemaking authority, except to the extent provided under 
section 9(a) of ``Motor-Voter,'' but sets voluntary standards and 
guidelines--a source of information for people to access, as we will, I 
am sure, in the years to come with technology being what it is, and a 
demand for efficiencies by the American public to update and to 
simplify the process to make voting as user friendly as it can possibly 
be while simultaneously protecting against the abuses in which some may 
wish to engage.
  We will now have a permanent venue where those ideas can be heard and 
recommendations can be made so that we will be involved on a continuing 
basis in a seamless way with the conduct of something as fundamental 
and as important as the elections in this country.
  New rights, new responsibilities, new resources. And with them, a new 
day for our Nation's democracy.
  Almost 2 years from the 2000 elections, this legislation will help 
America move beyond the days of hanging chads, butterfly ballots, and 
illegal purges of voters and accusations of voter fraud. It will make 
the central premise of our democracy--that the people are sovereign--
ring even more truly in the years to come.
  This legislation has the support of many individuals and 
organizations that have been critical to its success.
  They include former Presidents Ford and Carter. We thank them for 
their work on the National Commission on Federal Election Reform. They 
met early on and crafted some recommendations and ideas. They held 
hearings around the country. Once again, it is a great tribute to 
President Ford and President Carter for their ongoing commitment to 
this country and for the allocation of time from their schedules to 
dedicate efforts to make recommendations on how we might improve the 
election process. I thank them.
  The Congressional Black Caucus--for whom this legislative effort was 
the number one priority--I thank Eddie Bernice Johnson particularly as 
the Chair of the Black Caucus; John Conyers, my coauthor of this bill 
from the very outset; and every other member of the Black Caucus who 
has been tremendously helpful in working with us on this legislation 
and lending support to this final product.
  The National Association of Secretaries of State has been 
tremendously helpful. It is a bipartisan group that deals every day 
with the election laws in our country. They have to grapple with them. 
It is critically important. Everything we talked about on which they 
had some input to let us know whether or not these things will work--
obviously, many of them have not been tested yet, and time will only 
tell. But because they were involved here, we think the likelihood of 
things not working as well as one might normally expect will be 
  I particularly thank my secretary of state, Susan Bysewicz of 
Connecticut, who has done a remarkable job in our State, has been 
tremendously creative, and was a source of a lot of good solid 
  Secretary of State Kathy Cox of Georgia--I want to commend Georgia, 
by the way, one of the three States that made significant changes on 
their own in the election laws of their own States. They did a 
tremendous job. And Kathy Cox deserves a lot of credit for stepping up 
and doing things early on.
  I thank Secretary of State Chet Culver of Iowa, the youngest 
secretary of state in the country and the son of a former colleague of 
ours who is doing a fantastic job, for his input. Ninety-two percent of 
the people of Iowa are registered to vote. It is one of the highest in 
the country. They have 300,000 new registered voters in the last 3\1/2\ 
or 4 years in Iowa. Seventy-two percent of the people of that State 
voted in the last election. It is really a remarkable result, and a lot 
of it, again, is the result of the creative work of the secretary of 
state of Iowa.

[[Page S10415]]

  The NAACP has been tremendously helpful; the AFL-CIO; the United Auto 
Workers; the National Federation of the Blind; the United Cerebral 
Palsy Association; the American Foundation of the Blind; and the 
National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems, which 
represents persons with disabilities. I thank them for all of their 
tremendous help.
  I ask unanimous consent that letters from these organizations and 
individuals in support of this legislation be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                        The National Commission on

                                      Federal Election Reform.

                                                  October 4, 2002.
     Former Presidents Ford and Carter Welcome the Agreement 
         Reached on Election Reform Legislation.

       Today, former Presidents Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter, 
     along with Lloyd Cutler and Bob Michel, co-chairs of the 
     National Commission on Federal Election Reform, welcomed the 
     bipartisan agreement struck by the House and Senate 
     Conference Committee on a bill to reform federal elections.
       ``The bill represents a delicate balance of shared 
     responsibilities between levels of government,'' Ford and 
     Carter said. ``This comprehensive bill can ensure that 
     America's electoral system will again be a source of national 
     pride and a model to all the world.'' Indeed, all four of the 
     co-chairs share the belief of Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) 
     and others that, if passed by both Houses and signed by 
     President Bush, this legislation can provide the most 
     meaningful improvements in voting safeguards since the civil 
     rights laws of the 1960s.

                                                Washington Bureau,


                                  Washington, DC, October 8, 2002.
     Re Conference Report to H.R. 3295, the Help America Vote Act 
       (election reform)

     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator: The National Association for the Advancement 
     of Colored People (NAACP), our nation's oldest, largest and 
     most widely-recognized grassroots civil rights organization 
     supports the conference report on H.R. 3295, the Help America 
     Vote Act and we urge you to work quickly towards its 
       Since its inception over 90 years ago the NAACP has fought, 
     and many of our members have died, to ensure that every 
     American is allowed to cast a free and unfettered vote and to 
     have that vote counted. Thus, election reform has been one of 
     our top legislative priorities for the 107th Congress and we 
     have worked very closely with members from both houses to 
     ensure that the final product is as comprehensive and as 
     nondiscriminatory as possible.
       Thus we are pleased that the final product contains many of 
     the elements that we saw as essential to addressing several 
     of the flaws in our nation's electoral system. Specifically, 
     the NAACP strongly supports the provisions requiring 
     provisional ballots and statewide voter registration lists, 
     as well as those ensuring that each polling place have at 
     least one voting machine that is accessible to the disabled 
     and ensuring that the voting machines allow voters to verify 
     and correct their votes before casting them.
       The NAACP recognizes that the actual effectiveness of the 
     final version of H.R. 3295 will depend upon how the states 
     and the federal government implement the provisions contained 
     in the new law. Thus, the NAACP intends to remain vigilant 
     and review the progress of this new law at the local and 
     state levels and make sure that no provision, especially the 
     voter identification requirements, are being abused to 
     disenfranchise eligible voters.
       Again, on behalf of the NAACP and our more than 500,000 
     members nation-wide, I urge you to support the swift 
     enactment of the conference report on H.R. 3295, the Help 
     America Vote Act. Thank you in advance for your attention to 
     this matter; if you have any questions or comments I hope 
     that you will feel free to contact me at (202) 638-2269.
                                                Hilary O. Shelton,

         American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial 
                                  Washington, DC, October 8, 2002.
       Dear Senator: The AFL-CIO supports the conference report on 
     H.R. 3295, the Help America Vote Act.
       This conference report will help improve our nation's 
     election system in several important ways. It will allow 
     registered individuals to cast provisional ballots even if 
     their names are mistakenly excluded from voter registration 
     lists at their polling places. It will require states to 
     develop centralized, statewide voter registration lists to 
     ensure the accuracy of their voter registration records. It 
     will also require states to provide at least one voting 
     machine per polling place that is accessible to the disabled 
     and ensure that their voting machines allow voters to verify 
     and correct their votes before casting them.
       Since the actual number of individuals enfranchised or 
     disenfranchised by the conference report on H.R. 3295 will 
     depend on how the states and the federal government implement 
     its provisions, the AFL-CIO will closely monitor the progress 
     or this new law--especially its voter identification 
     requirements. We will also increase our voter education 
     efforts to ensure that individuals know and understand their 
     new rights and responsibilities.
                                                   William Samuel,
     Director, Department of Legislation.

                                                Paralyzed Veterans

                                                   of America,

                                 Washington, DC, October 15, 2002.
     Christopher J. Dodd,
     Ranking Member Mitch McConnell,
     Senate Rules and Administration Committee, Russell Senate 
         Office Building, Washington, DC.
       Dear Senators: On behalf of the members of the Paralyzed 
     Veterans of America (PVA), I want to congratulate you and 
     your staff on the hard work that was done to bring forth a 
     bipartisan Election Reform conference report. The House of 
     Representatives passed the report overwhelmingly, recognizing 
     the fact that our federal government, since the presidential 
     election of 2000, needed to take steps to ensure the public 
     that their votes do indeed count. This bill, the Help America 
     Vote Act of 2002, does that.
       The bill provides funds to states and local jurisdictions 
     to recruit and train poll workers. It will allow for 
     replacement of antiquated mechanisms, like punch card and 
     lever voting machines, with machines that will allow voters 
     to verify their vote before the ballot is cast, including 
     voters with disabilities.
       This legislation will charge the Architectural 
     Transportation Barriers Compliance Board known as the Access 
     Board to develop minimum standards of access at polling 
     places and to consult with other organizations for research 
     and improvements to voting technology.
       This legislation will allow the Secretary of the Health and 
     Human Services to make payments to eligible states and local 
     jurisdictions for the purposes of making polling places 
     accessible: including the paths of travel, entrances, exits, 
     and voting areas of each polling facility. It will ensure 
     sites are accessible to individuals with disabilities 
     including those who are blind or visually impaired, in a 
     manner that provides the same opportunity for access and 
     participation including privacy and independence.
       In addition the Secretary of Health and Human Services 
     shall provide the Protection and Advocacy Systems of each 
     State grant monies to ensure full participation in the 
     electoral process for individuals with disabilities, 
     including registering to vote, education in casting a vote 
     and accessing polling places.
       Again, PVA congratulates you on this legislation which, 
     when implemented and fully funded, will provide tremendous 
     access for PVA members and all people with disabilities in 
     exercising their constitutional right to vote. PVA stands 
     ready to work with you and your staff on implementation of 
     this legislation which ensures confidence in our citizens and 
     our democracy that indeed every ones vote cast will indeed 
                                               Douglas K. Vollmer,
     Associate Executive Director for Government Relations.

                                               National Federation

                                                 of the Blind,

                                   Baltimore, MD, October 9, 2002.
     Hon. Robert Ney, Chairman,
     Hon. Steny H. Hoyer, Ranking Minority Member,
     Committee on House Administration, House of Representatives, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Chairman and Congressman Hoyer: I am writing to 
     express the strong support of the National Federation of the 
     Blind (NFB) for the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Thanks to 
     your efforts and strong bipartisan support, this legislation 
     includes provisions designed to guarantee that all blind 
     persons will have equal access to voting procedures and 
     technology. We particularly endorse the standard set for 
     blind people to be able to vote privately and independently 
     at each polling place throughout the United States.
       While the 2000 election demonstrated significant problems 
     with our electoral system, consensus regarding the solution 
     proved to be much more difficult to find. Part of that 
     solution will now include installation of up-to-date 
     technology for voting throughout the United States. This 
     means that voting technology will change, and devices 
     purchased now will set the pattern for decades to come.
       With more than 50,000 members representing every state, the 
     District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the NFB is the largest 
     organization of blind people in the United States. As such we 
     know about blindness from our own experience. The right to 
     vote and cast a truly secret ballot is one of our highest 
     priorities, and modern technology can now support this goal. 
     For that reason, we strongly support the Help America Vote 
     Act of 2002, and appreciate your efforts to enact this 
                                                     James Gashel,
                                 Director of Governmental Affairs.

[[Page S10416]]

                                             United Cerebral Palsy


                                  Washington, DC, October 9, 2002.
       Dear Senator Dodd: United Cerebral Palsy Association and 
     affiliates support the conference report on H.R. 3295, the 
     Help America Vote Act. We also take this opportunity to 
     commend you for the work you did to ensure that all people 
     with disabilities have equal access under this act.
       This legislation, while not perfect, will go a long way in 
     improving the ability of people with disabilities to exercise 
     their constitutional right and responsibility to vote. The 
     funding allocated for the multiple provisions of H.R. 3295 is 
     critical, and we pledge to work with Congress to ensure that 
     this funding is made available.
       UCP stands ready to assist states' and local entities as 
     they work toward compliance of this very important 
     legislation. The changes outlined in the bill must be adopted 
     swiftly, correctly and fairly, and it will be incumbent upon 
     us all to help in this process.
       Finally, UCP applauds you and your colleagues on your 
     dogged determination to pass legislation that will make 
     distinct improvements at the polls and in the lives of voters 
     with disabilities.
                                                Patricia Sandusky,
     Interim Executive Director.

         American Foundation for the Blind, Governmental Relations 
                                  Washington, DC, October 9, 2002.
     The Hon. Christopher Dodd,
     U.S. Senate, Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Dodd: The American Foundation for the Blind 
     supports the conference report for S. 565 and H.R. 3295. We 
     are pleased that the conference report contains the 
     disability provisions of the Senate bill.
       Already this year, in some jurisdictions, blind and 
     visually impaired voters have, for the first time, been able 
     to cast a secret and independent ballot. We look forward to 
     the day when all voters with visual impairment will have full 
     and independent access to the electoral process.
       The mission of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) 
     is to enable people who are blind or visually impaired to 
     achieve equality of access and opportunity that will ensure 
     freedom of choice in their lives. AFB led the field of 
     blindness in advocating the enactment of the Americans with 
     Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Today, AFB continues its work 
     to protect the rights of blind and visually impaired people 
     to equal access to employment, information, and the programs 
     and services of state and local government.
                                                Paul W. Schroeder,
     Vice President, Governmental Relations.


                                        National Headquarters,

                                 Washington, DC, October 10, 2002.
     The Hon. Christopher J. Dodd,
     Chairman, Senate Rules and Administration Committee,
     Senate Russell Office Building, Washington, DC.
     The Hon. Mitch McConnell,
     Ranking Member, Senate Rules and Administration Committee,
     Senate Russell Office Building, Washington, DC.
       Dear Senators: We are writing to express our support for 
     the bipartisan election reform conference report on H.R. 
     3295. AARP recognizes that significant compromise was 
     required by all parties to produce an agreement that would 
     advance the process of effective and fair election reform. 
     The Senate-House conference report contains a mix of 
     provisions that both strengthen and hinder citizen ability to 
     exercise the legal right to vote and have that vote counted. 
     Despite its shortcomings, however, we believe the overall 
     effect of the compromise agreement will be to reform and 
     enhance the nation's voting system.
       AARP is pleased that the compromise:
       Requires states to develop and maintain centralized polling 
       Requires polling sites in each jurisdiction to meet 
     accessibility standards and provide user-friendly voting 
     equipment for persons with disabilities;
       Makes provisional ballots available to voters whose names 
     may be erroneously absent from registration lists;
       Permits voters to verify and correct their voting 
     preferences before casting them;
       Provides Federal funds to encourage state & local reforms; 
       Provides for training of elections administration staff and 
     polling site workers.
       Unfortunately, the H.R. 3295 compromise report weakens some 
     existing voting rights and contains certain provisions that 
     AARP believes will increase the chances of a recurrence of 
     the problems that plagued the 2000 Presidential Elections. 
     The report:
       Imposes voter identification requirements that discourage 
     participation by low income, minority and foreign-born 
       Encourages purging of voter registration lists without 
     current law assurances to prevent illegal purging of legal 
       Permits the denial of registration if the registrant 
     possesses either a driver's license or social security number 
     but fails to write it on the registration form; and
       Denies legal recourse for improper election administration, 
     while lacking adequate enforcement provisions to ensure that 
     the ballots of all legal voters are counted.
       These provisions undermine existing voting protections, and 
     provide technical loopholes that can discourage or intimidate 
     potential legal voters--especially those who are low income, 
     minority and foreign-born.
       Ultimately, the success of this legislation in affording 
     all eligible citizens the opportunity to vote and have that 
     vote accurately counted depends on implementation by the 
     states. AARP--through the advocacy and voter education 
     efforts of our national and state offices--will work with 
     states, election officials and other civil rights 
     organizations to ensure that election reform implementation 
     is fair and does not discourage citizen voter participation. 
     We appreciate your leadership in bringing about these 
     critically important advances. And, we look forward to 
     working with you to further our most basic right as 
     citizens--the vote. If you have any questions, please feel 
     free to call me or have your staff contact Larry White of our 
     Federal Affairs staff at (202) 434-3800.
                                               Christopher Hansen,
     Director of Advocacy.

        National Association of Protection & Advocacy systems,

                                                  October 9, 2002.
     The Hon. Chris Dodd,
     U.S. Senate, Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Dodd: The Protection and Advocacy System (P) 
     and the Client Assistance Programs (CAPs) comprise a 
     federally mandated, nationwide network of disability rights 
     agencies. Each year these agencies provide education, 
     information and referral services to hundreds of thousands of 
     people with disabilities and their families. They also 
     provide individual advocacy and/or legal representation to 
     tens of thousands of people in all the states and 
     territories. The National Association for Protection and 
     Advocacy Systems (NAPAS) is the membership organization for 
     the P network. In that capacity, NAPAS want to offer its 
     support for the passage of ``The Help America Vote Act of 
     2002'' (H.R. 3295).
       NAPAS believes that the disability provisions in the bill 
     go far to ensure that people with all types of disabilities--
     physical, mental, cognitive, or sensory--will have much 
     improved opportunities to exercise their right to vote. Not 
     only does this bill offer individuals with disabilities 
     better access to voting places and voting machines, but it 
     also will help provide election workers and others with the 
     skills to ensure that the voting place is a welcome 
     environment for people with disabilities. NAPAS is very 
     pleased that P network will play an active role in helping 
     implement the disability provisions in this bill.
       NAPAS is well aware that there are still some concerns with 
     certain provisions of the bill. We hope that these concerns 
     can be worked out, if not immediately, then as the bill is 
     implemented. It would be extremely unfortunate if people 
     continued to face barriers to casting their ballot after this 
     bill is signed into law.
       Finally, We want to thank the bill's sponsors, Senators 
     Dodd (D-CT) and McConnel (R-KY) and Representatives Ney (R-
     OH) and Hoyer (D-MD) for their hard work and perseverance. We 
     look forward to working with each of them to ensure the swift 
     and effective implementation of this important legislation.
                                          Bernadette Franks-Ongoy,

                 [From News Common Cause, Oct. 8, 2002]

        Common Cause President Praises Election Reform Agreement

       Statement by Scott Harshbarger, president and chief 
     executive officer of Common Cause, on the conference 
     agreement on the election reform bill:
       ``The Help America Vote Act of 2002 is, as Senator 
     Christopher Dodd (D-CT) has said, the first major piece of 
     civil rights legislation in the 21st century. Nearly two 
     years after we all learned that our system of voting had 
     serious flaws, Congress will pass these unprecedented 
       ``For the first time, the federal government has set high 
     standards for state election officials to follow, while 
     authorizing grants to help them comply. Billions of dollars 
     will be spent across the country to improve election systems.
       ``This bill, while not perfect, will make those systems 
     better. Registration lists will be more accurate. Voting 
     machines will be modernized. Provisional ballots will be 
     given to voters who encounter problems at the polling place. 
     Students will be trained as poll workers.
       ``As Common Cause knows from a seven-year fight to pass 
     campaign finance reform, compromise often comes slowly. We 
     thank the bill's sponsors, Senators Dodd, Mitch McConnell (R-
     KY), Christpher Bond (R-MO), and Representatives Robert Ney 
     (R-OH) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) for their work. Their 
     persistence--even when negotiations bogged down--brought this 
     bill through.
       ``After the President signs the bill, states will need to 
     act. Implementing this bill will require state legislators to 
     change laws, election officials to adopt new practices, 
     polling places to alter their procedures, and poll workers to 
     be retrained.
       ``These far-reaching changes will not come easily. The 
     bill's enforcement provisions are

[[Page S10417]]

     not as strong as the 1993 Motor Voter law or the 1965 Voter 
     Rights Act. Some states may lag behind and fail to implement 
     these changes properly; some polling places will experience 
     problems like in Florida this year; others may have problems 
     implementing the new identification provisions.
       ``Common Cause and our state chapters will work with civil 
     rights groups and other to ensure that states fully and 
     fairly implement the new requirements. We will help serve as 
     the voters' watchdogs: citizen vigilance can protect voters 
     from non-compliant states.
       ``Voters can now look to marked improvements at the polls 
     in the years ahead, thanks to the bipartisan leadership of 
     the bill's sponsors.''

                                              National Association

                                      of Secretaries of State,

                                  Washington, DC, October 9, 2002.
     Committee on House Administration,
     Longworth Building,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Ney and Ranking Member Hoyer: The National 
     Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) congratulates you 
     on the completion of H.R. 3295, the ``Help America Vote 
     Act.'' The bill is a landmark piece of bipartisan 
     legislation, and we want to express our sincere thanks for 
     your leadership during the conference negotiations. We also 
     commend your Senate colleagues: Senators Chris Dodd, Mitch 
     McConnell and Kit Bond.
       The nation's secretaries of state, particularly those who 
     serve as chief state election officials, consider this bill 
     an opportunity to reinvigorate the election reform process. 
     The ``Help America Vote Act'' serves as a federal response 
     that stretches across party lines and provides a substantial 
     infusion of federal money to help purchase new voting 
     equipment and improve the legal, administrative and 
     educational aspects of elections. In fact, our association 
     endorsed the original draft of H.R. 3295 in November 2001.
       Specifically, the National Association of Secretaries of 
     State (NASS) is confident that passage of the final version 
     of H.R. 3295 will authorize significant funding to help 
     states achieve the following reforms:
       Upgrades to, or replacement of, voting equipment and 
     related technology;
       Creation of statewide voter registration databases to 
     manage and update voter registration rolls;
       Improvement of poll worker training programs and new 
     resources to recruit more poll workers throughout the states;
       Increases in the quality and scope of voter education 
     programs in the states and localities;
       Improvement of ballot procedures, whereby voters would be 
     allowed to review ballots and correct errors before casting 
     their votes;
       Improved access for voters with physical disabilities, who 
     will be allowed to vote privately and independently for the 
     first time in many states and localities;
       Creation of provisional ballots for voters who are not 
     listed on registration rolls, but claim to be registered and 
     qualified to vote.
       We want to make sure the states will get the funding levels 
     they've been promised, and that Congress will provide 
     adequate time to enact the most substantial reforms. Please 
     be assured that the nation's secretaries of state are ready 
     to move forward once Congress passes H.R. 3295 and the 
     President signs it.
       If we can be of further assistance to you, your staff 
     members, or your colleagues in the U.S. House of 
     Representatives, please contact our office.
           Best regards,

                                                 Dan Gwadosky,

                                                   NASS President,
     Maine Secretary of State.

                                               National Conference

                                        of State Legislatures,

                                  Washington, DC, October 7, 2002.
     Hon. Robert Byrd,
     Chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Bill Young,
     Chairman, House Appropriations Committee,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairmen Byrd and Young: On behalf of the nation's 
     state legislators, we urge you to make reform of our nation's 
     election processes a reality by providing sufficient funding 
     to implement H.R. 3295. The conference agreement announced 
     today will provide an effective means for states and counties 
     to update their election processes without federalizing 
     election administration. NCSL worked closely with the 
     conferees in the development of this legislation and is 
     satisfied that it keeps election administration at the state 
     and local level, limits the role of the U.S. Justice 
     Department to enforcement, does not create a federal private 
     right of action, and establishes an advisory commission that 
     will include two state legislators to assist with 
     implementation. NCSL commends the conferees for their work on 
     this landmark legislation and is committed to implementing 
     the provisions of H.R. 3295 to ensure every voter's right to 
     a fair and accurate election.
       To ensure proper implementation and avoid imposing 
     expensive unfunded mandates on the states, it is critical 
     that the federal government immediately deliver sufficient 
     funding for states to implement the requirements of this 
     bill. Neither of the existing versions of appropriations 
     legislation provides sufficient funding for election reform. 
     We urge you to fully fund H.R. 3295 at the authorized level 
     of $2.16 billion for FY 2003.
       The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that it may 
     cost states up to $3.19 billion in one-time costs to begin 
     implementing the provisions of this legislation. In this 
     current fiscal environment, it will be extraordinarily 
     difficult for states to implement the minimum standards in 
     the bill without immediate federal financial support. States 
     are already facing budget shortfalls for FY 2003 of 
     approximately $58 billion. Thirteen states have reported 
     budget gaps in excess of 10 percent of their general fund 
     budgets. To satisfy their balanced budget requirements, 
     states are being forced to draw down their reserves, cut 
     budgets, and even raise taxes.
       We look forward to working with you to keep the commitment 
     of the states and the federal government to implementing H.R. 
     3295. If we can be of assistance in this or any other matter, 
     please contact Susan Parnas Frederick (202-624-3566; 
     [email protected]) or Alysoun McLaughlin (202-624-
     8691; [email protected]) in NCSL's state-federal 
     relations office in Washington, D.C.
     Senator Angela Z. Monson,
       Oklahoma, President, NCSL.
     Speaker, Martin R. Stephens,
       Utah, President-elect, NCSL.

                                              National Association

                                  of State Election Directors,

                                 Washington, DC, October 10, 2002.
     Hon. Bob Ney,
     Hon. Steny Hoyer,
     House Administration Committee,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Congressmen Ney and Hoyer: The National Association 
     State Election Directors (NASED) congratulates you on the 
     successful completion of the final conference report on H.R. 
     3295. This initiative will significantly affect the manner in 
     which elections are conducted in the United States. On 
     balance, H.R. 3295 represents improvements to the 
     administration of elections. As administrators of elections 
     in each state we express our appreciation to you and your 
     staff for providing us access to the process and reaching out 
     to seek our views and positions on how to efficiently and 
     effectively administer elections.
       As with all election legislation, H.R. 3295 is a compromise 
     package, which places new challenges and opportunities before 
     state and local election officials. We stand ready to 
     implement H.R. 3295 once it is passed by Congress and signed 
     into law by the President. Implementation of this bill will 
     be impossible without the full $3.9 billion appropriation 
     that is authorized. The success of this bold congressional 
     initiative rests in large measure upon the appropriation of 
     sufficient funds to bring the bill's objectives to reality.
       We found the bipartisan approach to this legislation 
     refreshing and beneficial. Thank you again for including 
     NASED in the congressional consideration the bill.
       If we can be of further assistance, please contact our 
                                                   Brook Thompson,
     President, NASED.

                             National Association of Counties,

                                  Washington, DC, October 9, 2002.
     Hon. Christopher Dodd,
     Chairman, Committee on Rules and Administration, U.S. Senate, 
         Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC.
     Hon. Mitch McConnell,
     Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Rules and 
         Administration, U.S. Senate, Russell Senate Office 
         Building, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Dodd and Senator McConnell: We would like to 
     congratulate you and thank you for your leadership, 
     perseverance and hard work in reaching agreement in the 
     House-Senate conference on the ``Help American Vote Act of 
     2002.'' We believe the final bill is a balanced approach to 
     reforming election laws and practices and to providing 
     resources to help counties and states in improving and 
     upgrading voting equipment. The National Association of 
     Counties supports H.R. 3295 as it was approved by the House-
     Senate conference Committee.
       We are very concerned about Congress providing the funds to 
     implement the new law. While there is much confusion at this 
     time about the appropriation process for FY2003, we strongly 
     urge the leadership of the House and Senate and President 
     Bush to support inclusion of $2.16 billion in a continuing 
     resolution. This is the amount authorized for FY2003 by the 
     ``Help American Vote Act.'' We believe that funding and 
     improving voting practices in the United States is an 
     important as our efforts to strengthen homeland security.
       Thank you again for your continuing efforts to fund and 
     implement this new law.
                                                   Larry E. Naake,
                                               Executive Director.

  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I also would like to mention the tremendous 
assistance provided by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the 
League of Women Voters, and People for the American Way.
  Before I turn to my colleagues who wish to be heard, I would be 
remiss if I

[[Page S10418]]

did not publicly express my gratitude to my fellow conferees. I already 
mentioned Senator McConnell, Senator Bond, Senator Durbin, and Senator 
Schumer. I thank their staffs as well.
  I want to take a moment as well to thank an individual I had never 
really met before--I may have met him before, but I did not certainly 
know him--and that is the chairman of the House Administration 
Committee, Bob Ney, from the State of Ohio, who serves in a tough job 
as chairman of that committee. He has been in the Congress, I think, 
about 8 or 10 years.
  He worked very hard on this legislation. And I developed a great deal 
of respect and affection for Bob Ney. We are of different parties and, 
obviously, different States, not serving together in the House of 
  But Bob Ney and his staff were tenacious, hard working, and 
determined to get a bill. I commend them for that. We were not sure we 
were going to be able to get it done in the end, as it appeared at 
several points this may not work. And because Bob Ney felt strongly 
that we had an obligation to try, we are here today with this product 
on which they had a successful vote in the other body. So I commend Bob 
Ney for his tremendous efforts and that of his staff.
  Steny Hoyer is the ranking Democrat on the House Administration 
Committee. I have known Steny for years. Unlike Bob Ney, Steny and I 
have been good friends for a long time. Steny Hoyer has been as 
committed to election reform issues as anyone, as well as his 
commitment to the disabled.
  He was one of the prime architects of legislation affecting the 
disabled. So while we talked about that a lot in this body during the 
consideration of our bill, we certainly need to extend credit to Steny 
Hoyer for his commitment to those issues as well.
  So the team of Bob Ney and Steny Hoyer, putting together the product 
they did, deserves a great deal of credit and recognition for what we 
hope will be the adoption of this conference report tomorrow and the 
signing by the President of this, we think, historic piece of 
  On more occasions than I can recall, the three of us--Steny Hoyer, 
Bob Ney, and myself--along with staffs, spent a lot of late nights. I 
am looking around the Chamber at faces who were with me in those rooms 
in the wee hours of the morning, and long weekends, going back and 
forth. And I appreciate all of their efforts. We had some tough 
moments, but in any good piece of legislation there will be tension. 
And if people are committed to try to work things out, you can produce 
results such as we have in this legislation. So without their 
persistence and the patience of all involved, we would not be here. And 
I thank them.
  Last but far from least, I thank John Conyers, the dean of the 
Congressional Back Caucus, for his stalwart support. The day we 
introduced a bill, that is not unlike what we are asking our colleagues 
to support here, I stood in a room with two people, in front of a bank 
of cameras, as we laid out this particular idea. And the two 
individuals with me in that room were John Conyers and John Sweeney of 
the AFL-CIO. And I thank both of them.
  But John Conyers has been tireless. He has never given up on this. He 
knew that compromises would have to be struck, and he insisted we reach 
those compromises even though he would prefer, in some instances, that 
provisions of the bill not be included. But a great legislator, a good 
legislator, understands that when people gather for a conference, 
unfortunately, they arrive with their opinions, and you are not going 
to be able to get your own way all the time. So John Conyers was 
tremendously helpful. I began this journey with him a long time ago. 
And I could not end these remarks without extending my deep sense of 
appreciation to him and to his staff for their tremendous help.

  In closing, I would like to add only this: Of all the many important 
issues considered by this Senate in this Congress, I do not think any--
others may argue this--but I do not think any are going to exceed this 
one in significance. I know we have had important debates on Iraq and 
other such questions, but I think what Mitch McConnell, Kit Bond, and 
my other conferees, Senator Durbin, Senator Schumer, and others who 
were involved in this--what we have achieved certainly ranks in the top 
echelons of accomplishments, I would say the best thing we have done in 
this Congress. We have not achieved a lot in this Congress, but I think 
this is one of the most significant things.
  I think this is the kind of legislation you can talk to your 
grandchildren about or they will read about and say that even if we did 
not do anything else in this Congress, this is a significant 
accomplishment for the American people.
  Thomas Paine, as I have quoted him over and over again over the last 
year and a half or so of this discussion, said 207 years ago:

       The right to vote . . . is the primary right by which other 
     rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a 
     man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the 
     will of another, and he that has not a vote . . . is in this 

  So, Mr. President, I thank again my colleagues; for the bedrock 
principle in our Republic is simply this: the consent of the governed. 
We are a nation where the people rule, and they rule not with a bullet 
but with a ballot. That sacred, central premise of our Republic is 
given new power by this conference agreement. It can make America a 
more free and democratic Nation. That kind of opportunity comes our way 
only rarely, at most maybe once in a generation, on average. It is an 
opportunity that has emerged out of adverse circumstances--a close and 
controversial election for the Presidency of the United States.
  By seizing that opportunity and passing this conference agreement, we 
in this body can transform a national moment of adversity into the 
promise of a future with the right to vote that will have new resonance 
for every citizen of America. I urge adoption of this conference 
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Dayton). The Senator from Kentucky.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, first, let me say to my good friend 
from Connecticut, this is, indeed, something to celebrate on a 
bipartisan basis in a Congress that could use a celebration. This may 
have been the most unproductive and unsuccessful session of the Senate 
in my 18 years here: no energy bill; no terrorism insurance bill and--
until tomorrow, at least--no appropriations bills; no budget; no 
homeland security bill; only 44 percent of President Bush's U.S. 
circuit court nominees confirmed.
  A couple of items we did pass were--at least in this Senator's 
judgment--not very good: a flawed campaign finance reform bill and a 
bloated farm bill.
  We could use a celebration. And the Senator from Connecticut and I 
would like to encourage all of our Senators to feel good about the 
piece of legislation that will be adopted tomorrow.
  This is, indeed, a significant accomplishment, an important piece of 
legislation. Even if we had a very productive Congress, and a Senate 
that was passing landmark legislation on virtually a weekly basis--even 
if that had been the case this year--this legislation would have stood 
out as something important for the Nation and something well worth 
  So, Mr. President, I rise today with a tremendous amount of pride and 
enthusiasm about this landmark legislation. Although the Senate, as I 
just suggested, has been mired in partisanship and virtually calcified 
over various pieces of legislation, and the confirmation of judges, the 
House-Senate conference committee on election reform has achieved an 
historic bipartisan, bicameral consensus.
  Nearly 2 years ago, this Nation had a painful lesson on the 
complexities and complications State and local election officials face 
in conducting elections. In response, legislators on both sides of the 
Hill introduced legislation to address the problems exposed in the 2000 
election. The various pieces of legislation ran the gamut in approach 
and emphasis, but all were unified in their goal of improving our 
Nation's election systems.
  In December of 2000, Senator Torricelli and I introduced the first of 
what was to become four bipartisan compromise bills that I have 
sponsored or cosponsored. From the beginning, I have been committed to 
providing not

[[Page S10419]]

only financial assistance but also informational assistance to States 
and localities.
  The best way to achieve both of these goals is by establishing an 
independent, bipartisan election commission. The commission will be a 
permanent repository for the best, unbiased, and objective election 
administration information for States and communities across America.
  And that is really important because what happens--I used to be a 
local official early in my political career--is that you are confronted 
with vendors selling various kinds of election equipment, and there is 
really no way to make an objective analysis of what your needs are. On 
the other hand, this new commission will be a repository for expertise 
and unbiased advice to States and localities across America about what 
kind of equipment might best suit their situation.
  This concept has been one of the cornerstones of each of the bills 
that I have sponsored. It was recommended by the Ford-Carter 
Commission, supported by the President, and has been perfected in this 
conference agreement. The commission will not micromanage the election 
process, but will instead serve as a tremendous resource for those 
across America who conduct elections.

  This conference report will help make all elections more accurate, 
more accessible, and more honest, while respecting the primacy of 
States and localities in the administration of elections. For the first 
time ever, the Federal Government will invest significant resources to 
improve the process, roughly $3.9 billion. Every State will receive 
funds under this legislation, and the smaller States are guaranteed a 
share of the pot. The funds will be used by the States in a manner they 
determine best suits their needs, rather than the Federal Government 
prescribing a one-size-fits-all system. Whether it is by replacing a 
punchcard or a lever voting system or educating and training poll 
workers, States are provided the flexibility to address their specific 
  The mantra of this legislation, coined by the distinguished senior 
Senator from Missouri, Kit Bond, has been to ``make it easier to vote 
and harder to cheat.'' We have achieved that balance in this conference 
agreement by setting standards for States to meet, standards which the 
Federal Government will pay 95 percent of the cost to implement. Voting 
systems will allow voters to verify their ballots and allow voters a 
second chance, if they make a mistake, while maintaining the sanctity 
of a private ballot.
  Voting will become more accessible to people with disabilities, an 
issue admirably and vigorously championed by Senator Dodd. Provisional 
ballots will be provided to all Americans who show up at polling sites 
only to learn their names are not on the poll books. Such a voter's 
eligibility will be verified, however, prior to the counting of the 
ballot to ensure that those who are legally entitled to vote are able 
to do so and do so only once; again, making it easier to vote and 
harder to cheat.
  To protect the integrity of every election, this conference report 
makes significant advancements in rooting out vote fraud. Congress has 
acted properly to curtail fraudulent voting and reduce duplicate 
registrations, both interstate--found to be more than 720,000 
nationwide--and intrastate. The provisions of this bill are carefully 
drafted to address this impediment to fair and honest elections, and we 
provided the States with the means and the resources to address this 
  First, States will establish secure, computerized Statewide voter 
registration databases that contain the name and information of each 
registered voter. The accuracy of the voter registration list is 
paramount to a fair and accurate election. The motor voter bill of 1993 
has done grievous harm to the integrity of the system by junking up the 
voter rolls and making it extremely difficult to systematically ensure 
that only eligible voters are registered.
  Second, every new registrant will be required to provide their 
driver's license number, if they have been issued one, or the last four 
digits of their Social Security number. If they have neither, the State 
will assign them a unique identifier. This information will be matched 
with the department of motor vehicles which will in turn match their 
data with the Social Security Administration. States which use the full 
nine-digit Social Security number for voter registration are given the 
option to avail themselves of this important new provision. Contrary to 
the assertions of some, the only thing this provision impedes is vote 
  Third, first-time voters who register by mail will have to confirm 
their identity at some point in the process by photo identification or 
other permissible identification. This provision was championed by 
Senator Bond, and its importance was once again highlighted just this 
past week in South Dakota where there is an ongoing joint Federal and 
State investigation of fraudulent voter registrations.

  According to press reports in South Dakota, people are registering 
weeks after they have died, and one eager voter even completed 150 
voter registration cards. Is that an enthusiastic voter or what?
  The South Dakota Attorney General succinctly summed up the problem:

       It's pretty easy to register under a false name, have the 
     registration confirmation sent back to your home, then send 
     in by mail an absentee ballot request, get it and vote under 
     the false name, send it back and get it counted.

  Under this legislation, that is not going to be possible any longer. 
That is a step in the right direction for our democracy.
  These three provisions will ensure that dogs such as Ritzy Mekler, 
Holly Briscoe, and other stars of ``Animal Planet'' will no longer be 
able to register and vote. These provisions will ensure that our dearly 
departed will finally achieve everlasting peace and will not be 
troubled with exercising their franchise every 2 years. And 
importantly, the provisions will ensure that voter rolls will be 
cleansed and protected against fraudulent and duplicate registrations.
  This conference report also provides remedial safeguards for every 
American's franchise. The Department of Justice will continue its 
traditional role of enforcing Federal law. In addition, each State will 
design and establish a grievance procedure available to any voter who 
believes a violation of law has occurred. States are best equipped to 
promptly address the concerns of its voters, and I compliment Senator 
Dodd for his foresight on this issue.
  This legislation also makes significant improvements to protect the 
votes of those who have committed themselves to protecting all 
Americans, and that is our men and women in uniform.
  I have touched upon just a few of the highlights of this historic 
piece of legislation. After nearly 2 years of discussions, 
negotiations, introductions and reintroductions of election reform 
bills, we now stand ready to vote on the most important piece of 
legislation before Congress in many years.
  I thank, again, Senator Dodd for his steadfast leadership. He 
committed 110 percent of himself to this issue and worked tirelessly to 
bring us to this day. I also thank Senator Bond for all of his work to 
protect the integrity of the election process. I also congratulate my 
colleagues on the other side of the Hill for their significant 
achievement: Congressman Bob Ney of Ohio, chairman of the conference, 
did a superb job; and our good friend Steny Hoyer, ranking member, who 
was outstanding as well.
  And to the staff people involved in this, my own staff on the Rules 
Committee: Tam Somerville; I particularly commend Brian Lewis, who was 
there from beginning to end in this process--as far as I am concerned, 
this will be known as the Brian Lewis bill around my office--and his 
able right hand, Leon Sequeira, and Chris Moore and Hugh Farrish, all 
of the Rules Committee staff.
  For Senator Bond, Julie Dammann and Jack Bartling of Senator Bond's 
staff were superb. And for Senator Dodd, Kennie Gill, Shawn Maher, 
Ronnie Gillespie, we enjoyed working with them, and they, too, should 
feel about good about this. From Congressman Ney's staff, Paul 
Vinovich, Chet Kalis, Roman Buhler, Pat Leahy--they have a staffer 
named Pat Leahy, how about that--and Matt Petersen. And from 
Congressman Hoyer's staff, Bob Cable, Keith Abouchar and Len Shambon.
  This is indeed a happy day, not just for Senator Bond and myself, but 

[[Page S10420]]

all Members of the Congress. This is a remarkable achievement we can 
all feel good about. We look forward to seeing it pass tomorrow by an 
overwhelming margin. I am sure the President at some point will want to 
sign this with appropriate flourish down at the White House.
  Again, I thank my colleague from Connecticut and yield the floor.

                             weekend voting

 Mr. KOHL. I thank the distinguished chairman of the Rules 
Committee for clarifying a provision in the bill. As the Senator knows, 
I am the sponsor of legislation moving Federal elections from the first 
Tuesday in November to the first weekend in November. It is my hope 
that moving Federal elections to the weekend will increase voter 
turnout by giving all voters ample opportunity to get to the polls 
without creating a national holiday. My proposal would also have the 
polls open the same hours across the continental United States, 
addressing the challenge of keeping results on one side of the country, 
or even a state, from influencing voting in places where polls are 
still open.
  The Senate version of the election reform legislation before us 
included a provision sponsored by Senator Hollings and myself which 
directed the Election Administration Commission to study the viability 
of changing the day for congressional and presidential elections from 
the first Tuesday in November to a holiday or the weekend, with the 
possibility of looking at the first weekend in November. Unfortunately, 
during the conference on this bill, the studies section was refined to 
direct the Election Administration Commission to study the 
``feasibility and advisability of conducting elections for Federal 
office on different days, at different places, and during different 
hours, including the advisability of establishing a uniform poll 
closing time'' with a legal public holiday mentioned as one option but 
no mention of weekend voting. Is it correct that there was no specific 
intent to leave out weekend voting as an option?
  Mr. DODD. The Senator from Wisconsin is correct. The conferees 
intended that the new Election Administration Commission consider all 
options for election day, including the Senator's interesting proposal 
to move elections to the weekend. There was also no intent to limit the 
Election Administration Commission to considering just one day as an 
election day. It is my hope that the commission will examine all 
options, including the possibility of holding elections over two days 
as suggested in Senator Kohl's proposal.
  Mr. KOHL. I thank the Senator from Connecticut for this 
clarification. I hope that the Election Administration Commission will 
seriously consider moving federal elections to the weekend. I will 
continue to advocate for weekend voting as a means of increasing voter 
turnout and addressing the need for uniform poll closing times in 
federal elections.
  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I yield 15 minutes to my colleague from 
Oregon, Senator Wyden.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, let me join in the extraordinarily 
important comments that have been made by Senator Dodd and Senator 
McConnell. This has been a huge and arduous task that had to be 
bipartisan. The fact is, you can't get anything done that really is 
important without it being bipartisan.
  I take a moment to thank Senator Dodd. He has been extraordinarily 
patient with me and with all of the Members of this body who come from 
States that have pioneered innovative approaches.
  It is fair to say right now with millions of Americans essentially 
being early voters, there have been estimates that something along the 
lines of 15 percent of the American people are going to vote early.
  The legislation that Senator Dodd and Senator McConnell brings to us 
today protects the wave of the future--this early voting--whether it be 
by absentee ballot or the pioneering vote-by-mail system.
  What this legislation does is protect the early voters--the person we 
are seeing more and more of in the American political process--by, in 
effect, taking steps to discourage fraud at the front end when people 
register, and then making sure that people don't face unnecessary 
barriers and hassles when they actually participate in the fall of 
even-numbered years. So I commend Senators Dodd and McConnell for their 
work in this area.
  Suffice it to say, at various stages in the discussion, I wasn't sure 
that we were going to make it. Look at how the debate began when this 
bill first came to the floor of the Senate. It seemed to me and others 
that millions of Americans would have been turned away from the polls 
because they didn't have with them a valid photo identification or a 
copy of a utility bill. It would have disenfranchised millions of 
Americans. I and others made that point to Chairman Dodd and Senator 
McConnell, and we began a very lengthy set of negotiations that 
involved Senators Dodd, McConnell, Bond, Cantwell, Schumer, and I. 
Together we were able to work out an agreement with respect to the 
photo identification provision. It protects fully the vote-by-mail 
system. In fact, it protects all Americans who want to vote early, as I 
have mentioned. It is outlined in section 303 of the conference report.
  I thought I would take a minute to describe how this provision would 
work. Beginning in January 2004, anyone who registers to vote for the 
first time, let's say in Oregon, has the choice of registering by 
providing a driver's license number, the last four digits of their 
Social Security number, a copy of a current utility bill, bank 
statement, government document, or a valid photo identification. When 
they cast their ballot by mail, Oregon's State elections officials will 
verify the voter's eligibility consistent with State law by signature 
verification. Under our Oregon election law, an elections official 
determines voter eligibility by matching the signature on the 
registration with the signature on the mail-in ballot. Oregon's 
signature match system would not change.
  My primary concern throughout this discussion has, of course, been to 
support our pioneering vote-by-mail system, which I think is the wave 
of the future. But as we have seen in recent days it is not just Oregon 
but a variety of other States are going to see millions of people 
saying they want to take the time, essentially through the fall when 
people are considering the candidates, to look at the statements put 
out and reflect on them in a way that is convenient for them.
  We said at the beginning of this discussion that we wanted to 
discourage fraud and encourage voters. I think that is what the Dodd-
McConnell legislation does. I am particularly pleased that it does so 
in a way that protects Oregon's pioneering system and all of those 
around this country who are going to be voting by mail.
  Senator McConnell just mentioned that this is, in his view, just 
about as important as it gets for the Senate. I will reaffirm that 
statement. After all of the problems that we have seen in Florida, 
after you look at all of the challenges in terms of getting young 
people excited about politics and excited about the democratic process, 
what this legislation does is it reaches out and says: We understand 
those concerns. We understand that the American people feel more 
strongly about this subject than just about anything else because it is 
what we are about. It is about our values, our principles; it is what 
the Senate is all about. So I am very pleased that Senators Dodd and 
McConnell had the patience to work with some of us who, I am sure, were 
fairly prickly and difficult along the way. I don't know how many hours 
we had in negotiations just looking at the arcane details of some of 
the vote-by-mail States. But Senator Dodd said we are just not going to 
give up. We understand that you are doing something very exciting in 
the Pacific Northwest, and we encourage it.

  In effect, what Senator Dodd has done is not just protect the Oregon 
system but allowed this country to build on something that I think is 
the wave of the future; that is, people voting essentially throughout 
the fall. We have seen--as reported recently in various States as they 
innovate with different kinds of systems--a variety of approaches that 
are being tried. My own sense is that it won't be very long before 
people start voting online in this country.

[[Page S10421]]

  So what Senator Dodd has done is made it clear that he is going to 
stand with all of us in the Senate who want to discourage fraud, and we 
are going to do it at the right time and in the right way, which is 
essentially at the front end when people come to sign up for the 
electoral process. But then, after we can ascertain they are who they 
say they are, they are not going to face innumerable hassles and 
barriers when they actually show up to vote.
  So my thanks to Senator Dodd and his staff, Carole Grunberg, who is 
here. She has championed for us the Oregon vote-by-mail system. But 
with Senator Dodd in the Chamber, I want him to know how much I 
appreciate what he is doing. It means a tremendous amount to my 
constituents and also to this country and to the future of American 
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, before my colleague leaves the floor, I 
thank him and his staff as well for their tremendous contribution. One 
of the things we did in this bill--I say to my friend from Oregon that 
he is in large part responsible for this, I probably should give him 
more credit for this--we set Federal standards and rights that never 
have existed before in all Federal elections across the country, and we 
have enumerated the rights in this bill.
  One of the things I fought very hard to preserve is that what 
constitutes a valid registration of a voter and what constitutes a 
valid vote is left up to the States. We don't federalize registration 
and we don't federalize how votes get counted. We have left that to the 
States. It would be overreaching to go that far.
  I must say some of the most creative ideas on how to make this basic 
franchise accessible to the maximum number of people, the most creative 
ideas are occurring in our States across the country. There are 
differences in places, and States ought to have the flexibility of 
deciding what system works best for them.
  I will tell my colleague, I have learned of some fascinating 
historical stories. Going back, people have said: Where in the 
Constitution does it say you have to be a citizen to vote? Well, it is 
the 14th and 15th amendments. The 14th amendment describes what a 
citizen is, and the 15th amendment says all citizens have the right to 
  There was a time--and the Presiding Officer may find this 
interesting--when we discovered as part of our research that in the 
latter part of the 19th century, in certain areas of the upper Midwest, 
in efforts to attract immigrant populations to settle in some of the 
vast farmlands there, they actually said: We will allow you to vote in 
Federal elections--which they did. I cannot find the lawsuit that 
stopped it. I think it may have been by tradition, but it provided that 
the person who signed up made a promise that they would someday become 
a citizen. That was the condition that you had to fill out.
  There are actually some jurisdictions in this country, by the way, 
not in Federal elections but local elections, where noncitizens, by 
municipal law, are allowed to vote.
  The State of Oregon is, I think, on the cutting edge. I agree with my 
colleague on this. Maybe because I have a head of gray hair, but I like 
the idea of a community gathering at a polling place. There is a sense 
of community spirit about showing up.
  In my town of East Haddam, CT--it is a small place with only a few 
thousand people and where I have lived for the last two decades--we all 
gather in the old townhall, literally around the potbellied stove. The 
folks I have known for the last two decades run the polling operations 
there. We like it that way. I am not suggesting there is a younger 
generation coming along who do not like the way they do it in Oregon--I 
suspect they might, and I suspect there will be States allowing people, 
in the not-too-distant future, to vote by Internet.
  I thank him for bringing forward the Oregon and, we should add, the 
Washington experience, because they are similar experiences, to this 
debate. The fact we managed to accommodate the unique voting 
circumstances in their States gave rise to the idea there actually may 
be other States that may want to move in this direction. In fact, the 
provisions authored by my colleague and included in the conference 
report can be used by every state, and not just by Oregon and 
Washington. We thank Senator Wyden for his contribution and for making 
this a stronger and a better bill, and one that does maintain its 
sensitivity to the unique requirements and needs of people across this 
vast country of ours. I thank the distinguished Senator from Oregon for 
his contribution.
  I note as well--it is somewhat an irony--I recall vividly the day 
Senator McConnell and I had announced we had reached an agreement, at 
least on the Senate version of this bill, our colleague who is now 
presiding over the Senate was presiding over the Senate that very day. 
He would not have known on that day a year and a half ago he would be 
presiding today as well. I thank him.
  Mr. President, I wish to note because there are so many wonderful 
staff people and they do not get the credit they deserve--we get to 
stand here and give the speeches and our names go on the bills. There 
are literally dozens of people who work incredible hours to produce the 
kind of legislation we are endorsing today.
  I mentioned already the Members on the House side, my colleagues, Bob 
Ney and Steny Hoyer, the principal House advocates. There was a long 
list of conferees, by the way, in the House. A number of committees of 
jurisdiction touched on matters in this bill, from the Ways and Means 
Committee to the Armed Services Committee--I will forget some--a lot of 
committees. So there were a lot more conferees from the other body on 
the conference committee. I thank them.
  I extend my special appreciation for the invaluable expertise and 
contributions in negotiating this bill to final passage to Paul 
Vinovich, one of the principal staff people for Bob Ney, and Chet 
Kalis, who is a wonderful individual. Both of these men are remarkable 
people and did a fantastic job, not just for Bob Ney and the Republican 
side, but they always had the sense they wanted to get a bill done, and 
that is a big difference when you are in a conference. If you are 
looking across the table at people and if the negotiating is to stop 
something or to make something happen, what a difference it is when you 
talk to people who give you the sense they want something to happen. I 
thank them.

  I thank Roman Buhler, a tough negotiator; Matthew Petersen; and Pat 
  From the office of Steny Hoyer: Bill Cable--I have known Bill for all 
my years in Congress. When I served in the other body, Bill Cable was a 
terrific staff person then. He has a wonderful institutional memory 
about the Congress of the United States. Steny Hoyer is truly fortunate 
to have Bill Cable with him. I thank him for the long hours he put in 
on this legislation.
  Keith Abouchar and Lenny Shambon were wonderful. They are 
knowledgeable people and have been very helpful on this. They 
understand the laws, and have a wonderful expertise in motor voter 
registration and how these proposals work.
  I further thank John Conyers. I mentioned already my coauthor of this 
legislation initially, but I want to also thank his staff. I thank 
Perry Apelbaum, Ted Kalo, and Michone Johnson, who were just wonderful 
and tireless in their efforts. I thank them for their tremendous work. 
Along with John, they were a great source of information and guidance 
during some very delicate moments on how we ought to proceed.
  Tom Daschle, our leader in the Senate, has been tremendously helpful 
through all of this. He asked me how long the original bill would take 
on the floor of the Senate when it came up. We had gotten through this, 
worked out the agreement, and there were a lot of demands for time on 
the floor. He looked at me and said: How long do you think it will take 
to debate the election reform bill?
  I said: Mr. Leader, I think we can do it in 2 days.
  Mr. President, if you look around, you can see the smiles on the 
faces of some of the floor staff. I think we were on the floor 9 days, 
had 46 amendments, and there were a hundred more, at least, proposed. I 
took some very healthy ribbing from the majority leader and others on 
the staff when they would look at me day after day

[[Page S10422]]

and say: How long did you say this bill would take? It took a lot 
longer than we anticipated.
  I thank Andrea LaRue, Jennifer Duck, Michelle Ballantyne, Mark 
Childress, and Mark Patterson from the majority leader's staff for 
their patience and assistance.
  With regard to Senator McConnell's staff, we spent a lot of time with 
Senator McConnell's staff. We spent more time with Senator McConnell's 
staff than with Senator McConnell, and he would be the first to say 
that. Tam Somerville, Brian Lewis, and Leon Sequeira are also very fine 
and hard-working staff members. Brian Lewis--poor Brian got saddled 
with more responsibilities. With all of this coming together, committee 
staff had to deal with campaign finance reform and election reform all 
at once. There were demands on their time, pulling them in two 
different directions, as we were trying to get this bill completed in 
the Senate so we could get to conference because we knew we had a long 
conference ahead of us. I express my gratitude to Brian. He is 
knowledgeable, worked hard, and made a significant contribution. I 
appreciate it very much.
  Senator Schumer's staff: Polly Trottenberg, Christine Parker, Cindy 
Bauerly, and Sharon Levin were very helpful. I thank them.
  Senator Bond: Julie Dammann and Jack Bartling. We had some real go-
rounds with Senator Bond's staff on some of the provisions in this 
bill. I thank both of them for a lot of effort. Jack Bartling spent a 
lot of time during the Senate consideration, going back months and 
months ago, sitting up late nights in my conference room and going 
through what we wanted to do and how it might work. I occasionally 
would run into Jack off the Hill. Even in off hours in restaurants, we 
would end up being seated next to each other unintentionally by the 
maitre d'. We spent all day working on this legislation, and when I 
went out for an evening with my wife and child, who ended up sitting 
next to me but Jack Bartling, and here we go again carrying on 
conversations. I thank Jack.

  I thank Jennifer Leach and Sara Wills on Senator Torricelli's staff. 
Senator Bob Torricelli offered some of the earliest versions of 
election reform. Early on he thought we ought to do something about 
election reform and worked with Senator McConnell and others to craft 
legislation. He agreed to work with us on our bill when we developed 
it. I thank Senator Torricelli for working very hard on campaign 
election reform.
  Senator McCain's staff: Ken LaSala. I offer a special appreciation 
for his invaluable expertise and contributions in negotiating and 
bringing this bill to final passage.
  Senator Durbin's staff: Bill Weber was tremendously helpful to us. I 
thank him.
  I thank Beth Stein and Caroline Fredrickson from Senator Cantwell's 
staff. I mentioned Oregon, Senator Wyden and his State, and the Senator 
from the State of Washington, Ms. Cantwell, had similar circumstances 
and were concerned about how the provisions of this bill would work in 
a State where a significant number of the people vote by mail. They 
wanted to be sure we were not doing anything here that was going to 
prohibit them from conducting their elections in the way they have done 
successfully for some time.
  I mentioned Senator Wyden. I thank Carol Grunberg for her work as 
  The floor staff, again, were tremendously patient with this Member. I 
tied up the cloakroom for hours one Friday trying to get holds lifted 
on this bill.
  The floor staff was tremendously helpful. Marty Paone, Lula Davis, 
Gary Myrick, members of the cloakroom staff, were tremendously 
  I apologize for going through all of this and mentioning these names. 
I could just submit them for the Record, but I want to say their names 
because just putting their names in the Record does not do justice to 
the amount of time and effort people have put in. So I beg the 
indulgence of the Chair and others as I go through this.
  This may sound mundane or boring to those who are watching it, but I 
am someone who believes very strongly we ought to give more recognition 
to the people whose names never appear much around this place and yet 
who make incredible contributions to a product like this.
  I want to thank the Office of Legislative Counsel. Let me explain 
what legislative counsel does. These are the people who actually write 
these bills. We tell them what we are thinking, these grand ideas of 
ours. A Senator has a grand idea. The staff tries to put language 
around the grand idea and then they go to legislative counsel, who then 
has to write it in a legalistic way so it can actually mean something 
because words have specific meaning.
  So the legislative counsel's office was instrumental--we asked them 
to work around the clock on a few instances. Literally, they were up 
all night producing language because we were running up against the 
clock to get this bill done. So to Jim Scott and Jim Fransen of the 
Office of Senate Legislative Counsel, and Noah Wofsy, from the House 
legislative counsel, I want to express my deep sense of gratitude to 
them for their work. They sat down very objectively. Noah Wolfsy is on 
the House side under the Republican leadership in the House. Jim Scott 
and Jim Fransen are in the Senate under the Democratic leadership of 
the Senate, but neither side was partisan in any way. I can honestly 
say if I sat them in a room and asked them for their views on how this 
ought to be written, I would never know from which party they had been 
chosen to do the job. They are that objective and that professional in 
how they do it.
  Sometimes I wish America could watch this when they talk about laws. 
They could then see people such as these who are so dedicated and see 
to it that we can get it right. They did not bring political baggage to 
that discussion and debate.
  I mentioned some history earlier about the upper Midwest and these 
other places. The Congressional Research Service, CRS, was the 
organization that provided me with some historical framework and 
background in the conduct of elections and also provided side-by-side 
versions of bills along the way. And we thank them: Kevin Coleman, who 
is an analyst in the American National Government; Eric Fischer, senior 
specialist in Science and Technology; L. Paige Whitaker, legislative 
attorney at the Congressional Research Service; David Huckabee, who is 
a specialist in American National Government; and Judith Fraizer, who 
is an information research specialist. They did a great job, and we are 
very grateful to them as well.
  I wish to thank my own staff. Obviously, in my own heart and mind 
they come first, as one might expect, but my mother raised me to be 
polite so I mentioned other people first. I am particularly grateful to 
my own staff who worked very hard on this. Through my bellowing and 
barking, and doing all the things we do and wondering why we could not 
reach agreements earlier--I hope I was not too impatient with them--I 
want to thank Shawn Maher, who is my legislative director. He was 
tremendously patient and did a great job. Kennie Gill, who is the staff 
director and chief counsel of the Rules Committee, is just one of the 
most knowledgeable people about this institution I have ever met in my 
27 years in Congress. I have met Members who have great respect for the 
institution, its history, its traditions, what these buildings mean, 
and what membership means in the other body or this body. I have never 
met anybody, Member or non-Member, who has as much reverence for this 
institution as Kennie Gill, and I thank her.

  Ronnie Gillespie, who is a terrific individual as well, is our 
counsel on the Rules Committee. She did a terrific job and I am very 
grateful to her, as well as my own staff, Sheryl Cohen, Marvin Fast, 
Alex Swartsel and Tom Lenard. Sheryl Cohen is my staff director, chief 
of staff of my office, and has to manage all of these things going 
around. She does a wonderful job, and I am very grateful to her. From 
the Rules Committee, Carole Blessington, Beth Meagher, Hasan Mansori, 
and Sue Wright also deserve some very special recognition. Chris Shunk, 
Jennifer Cusick, and Sam Young are non-designated staff on the Rules 
Committee staff, who kept the vouchers going during this time and they 
do wonderful work. There are some former members who were part of this 
effort who had to leave for various reasons before the completion of 
this bill, but the fact they are not here does not mean they should not 
be recognized. Stacy Beck,

[[Page S10423]]

Candace Chin, and Laura Roubicek are three people I want to thank.
  That is 60 individuals I have mentioned. There may be others I have 
missed. If I have missed them, I apologize, but I want them to know 
that all of us, regardless of political persuasion or ideology, thank 
them, and millions of Americans ought to as well because we never would 
have achieved this conference report, been able to write this bill, had 
it not been for these 60 individuals and many more like them.
  I have not mentioned the individuals on the outside that worked on 
this, the NAACP, the National Association of Secretaries of State, the 
AFL-CIO, the various disability groups. There are literally hundreds of 
people who are involved in this journey over the last year and a half 
to produce this conference report. I know normally we do not take as 
much time to talk about all of this, but I think Senator McConnell and 
I--and not because it is a pride of authorship, but we think we have 
done something very historically significant. We are changing America. 
We are changing the way America is going to be choosing its leadership. 
We want everyone to participate in this country. It is a source of 
significant embarrassment to me that there are individuals who cannot 
  I served in the Peace Corps in Latin America back in the 1960s. So I 
am asked periodically to go and observe elections, particularly in 
Latin America, because I know the language and have knowledge of the 
area. I cannot say how moving it is to watch some of these desperately 
poor countries where the people who lack any formal education, or have 
very little of it, will literally stand in line all day, walk miles 
through blistering and difficult weather, intimidation, fear of 
literally being killed if they show up, and they vote. They look to us 
as a beacon of what it means as a free people to be able to choose who 
represents us, from the most insignificant office on the municipal or 
town level to the Presidency of the United States. The idea that each 
and every one of us can be a part of making those choices, and the fact 
that only 50 percent of our eligible population does so, ought to be a 
source of collective shame. While this bill is not going to eradicate 
all of that, when we consider how hard some people fight to be free, 
how blessed we are as a people and how little is asked of us to 
participate in the process which has historically distinguished us as a 
people, our sincere hope today, as we vote tomorrow on this bill, is we 
have made it easier for people to meet that obligation and made it more 
difficult for those who would like to scam it in some way. But the most 
important thing this legislation does is to make it easier for people 
to make that choice.

  So all of those who have been involved in this have my profound sense 
of gratitude, and I am very confident that sense of gratitude is going 
to be expressed by millions of people for years to come because of what 
we have done in the wake of a tragedy in the year 2000, on November 7. 
We have responded to it with this legislation. Not in every sense, but 
on some of the core questions, this Congress has stepped up to the 
plate and responded to those issues. The leadership and Members of the 
other body, as well as the leadership here, can rightfully claim a 
proud moment when this bill passes the Senate tomorrow and President 
Bush signs this legislation as the permanent law of our land.