The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 28th

Committee to Examine Possible Voting Reform

Price will serve as co-chairman on the Democratic Caucus Special Committee on Election Reform, formed by House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.

The eight-person committee plans to hear concerns voiced by citizens and election experts, said Thomas Bates, press secretary for Price.

"(The committee will strive to) restore some of the faith that was shaken in the last election," Bates said.

The committee also will include Rep. Alice Hastings, D-Fla.

Problems in the election process came to the forefront of American political life in November when it was revealed that confusing ballots were used in some Florida counties -- casting the outcome presidential election in doubt for more than a month.

Some Florida voters claimed that these butterfly ballots caused them to vote for the wrong presidential candidate.

Price stated in a press release that he hopes the committee will be able to examine and possibly reform the U.S. voting system.

"I look forward to working with the members of the committee, election experts and voters across our country to devise the best ways to fix and upgrade our voting technology, address the issues of access and accuracy and expand participation in our democracy," he stated in the release.

Gephardt's Press Secretary Sue Harvey said the committee was formed in response to the fiasco in November but that voting problems are not limited to Florida.

Harvey said machinery malfunction, confusion and voter intimidation are common roadblocks faced in elections across the nation.

"This is the most fundamental element of our democracy," Harvey said.

While the committee is composed solely of Democratic representatives, Harvey said House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., has been contacted, and plans already have been made to form a bipartisan study committee.

UNC political science Professor George Rabinowitz said the close election in Florida made people aware of the problems at various precincts, a realization that probably would not have emerged otherwise.

"People really were surprised how antiquated our voting procedures are now," he said.

Rabinowitz added that he envisions positive changes coming out of the committee's efforts.

He said the fact that this issue is bipartisan will make the process smoother.

And Bates echoed Rabinowitz, saying it is essential for both political parties to support voting reform efforts.

"It concerns all people, Democratic and Republican," Bates said. "It's going to affect everyone."

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