President Bush has signed election reform legislation into law that provides billions of dollars to fix the kind of problems that plagued the 2000 vote count in the United States. The money will be used by local and state governments to improve their election systems.
The 2000 presidential election will be remembered for the confusion that reigned for weeks, for stories of confusing ballots, recounts and legal action that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
In its aftermath, a commission was set up to come up with a package of reforms. And now, most of their recommendations have become law.
They deal with the basics of voting: upgraded voter registration procedures, better equipment, access to polling places for the disabled, voter education, and extra training for election workers.
President Bush signed the reforms into law in the presence of lawmakers from both major political parties who drafted the necessary legislation.
"When problems arise in the administration of elections, we have a responsibility to fix them," he said.
Under the legislation, formally known as the "Help America Vote Act" states will receive almost $3.9 billion in federal money over three years to replace outdated voting systems and provide related training. President Bush noted that, while running elections is a state and local function, guaranteeing the fairness of balloting nationwide is a federal responsibility.
"Every registered voter deserves to have confidence that the system is fair and elections are honest, that every vote is recorded and that the rules are consistently applied," he said.
The changes will not be implemented in time for next Tuesday's election that will decide the make-up of the Congress, as well as State and local governing bodies. All the upgrades are expected to be in place nationwide by 2006.