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|Councilmember Kathy Patterson
A PROPOSED RESOLUTION IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF THE COLUMBIA
To declare the sense of the Council that the November 7, 2000, general election in the District of Columbia was administered effectively and fairly; that the District's purchase of new optical scanner voting machines should improve the fairness and accuracy of the District's elections; that the 107th U.S. Congress should hold hearings and act favorably on legislation to study voting systems and election procedures, and establish grant programs for states and localities that seek to implement voluntary standards for voting systems and election procedures; and that the U.S. Attorney General should use the full authority provided by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to investigate swiftly and thoroughly all credible allegations of voter interference, intimidation, or harassment arising from the November 7, 2000, general election.
RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this resolution may be cited as the "Sense of the Council on Election Administration and Voting Rights Resolution of 2001 ".
Sec. 2. The Council finds that:
(1) Voting is a fundamental right that serves as the foundation of the freedoms and opportunities that Americans enjoy;
(2) The closely contested presidential race last year raised difficult and important questions about the proper design of ballots and the accuracy of voting machines and ballot tabulation procedures used throughout the nation;
(3) Many jurisdictions throughout the United States use outdated voting machines that may be prone to malfunction, that are no longer manufactured and have no source of replacement parts, and that may fail to record ballots accurately;
(4) Outdated voting systems that are less accurate are more likely to be found in lower income urban and rural areas, and to affect minority voters disproportionately, with as much as 10 to 20 percent of ballots in some predominantly African-American precincts not registering a vote for president in the November 7, 2000, election;
(5) The NAACP, the Rainbow Coalition, and other groups have reported allegations of harassment, intimidation, and interference of voters seeking to exercise their democratic rights, including charges that police checkpoints were set up near polling places, that polling places were moved without notice, that voters' names were removed from voting lists in violation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and that language-minority and other voters were denied assistance to which they were entitled by law;
(6) The contested presidential election in Florida and the flaws in voting and ballot tabulation systems highlighted by the election have shaken public confidence in the integrity of the nation's democratic process;
(7) It is essential that all credible allegations of voter interference, intimidation, or harassment be swiftly and thoroughly investigated to ensure that all qualified individuals may exercise their constitutional right to vote;
(8) The free and fair exercise of voting rights by qualified individuals, and the integrity and accuracy of voting and ballot tabulation systems, are issues of national importance that must receive continuing attention and careful examination by elected officials throughout the nation;
(9) To maintain public confidence in the integrity of the District's elections, the Council and Mayor of the District of Columbia will need to exercise and sustain vigilance on issues of voting rights and election administration, including the implementation of new optical-scanner voting machines by the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics; and
(10) The Council, representing a jurisdiction of 572,000 people who lack voting rights in the U.S. Congress even though District of Columbia residents pay federal taxes and serve in the U.S. military on the same basis as other Americans, has a special responsibility to express its collective voice on issues of voting rights and election administration that affect the fairness of the democratic process not only in the District but throughout the nation.
Sec. 3. It is the Sense of the Council that:
(1) The November 7, 2000, general election in the District of Columbia was administered fairly and effectively. In the District, 1.8 percent of ballots cast did not result in a vote for president due to "undervotes" or "overvotes," compared with a national average of 2 percent and rates of 6 to 10 percent in Chicago, Atlanta, and parts of Florida.
(2) The Council's inclusion of $1 million in the District's fiscal year 2001 budget to purchase new optical-scanning voting machines, which give voters the option of correcting errors in their ballots, should further improve the administration of District elections and strengthen the public's confidence in the electoral process.
(3) The 107th U.S. Congress should hold hearings and act favorably on legislation to establish study commissions to review voting systems and election procedures, recommend voluntary standards for election systems, and establish grant programs for states and localities that seek to implement the recommendations. Such legislation, similar to measures introduced in the 106th Congress with bipartisan sponsorship, will reinforce the efforts of the District and other jurisdictions to improve and modernize their voting systems.
(4) The U.S. Attorney General should use the full authority provided by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to investigate swiftly and thoroughly all credible allegations of voter interference, intimidation, or harassment arising from the November 7, 2000, general election, in order to punish any attempts to prevent voting and to deter such interference, intimidation, or harassment in the future.
Sec. 4. This resolution shall take effect immediately upon the first date of publication in the District of Columbia Register.
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