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US Bill Would Overhaul Election System - 2002-10-05

U.S. Congressional negotiators reached a compromise to implement one of the largest overhauls of the nation's election system in U.S. history.

The $3.9 billion bill would, among other things, help states pay for better voting machines, ease access to the polls for the disabled and impose federal election standards.

The legislation was spurred by the controversy over the disputed presidential election in 2000.

As many as 2.5 million of the more than 100 million votes cast in that election were never counted. Inaccurate registration rolls resulted in many voters being turned away from the polls. At the same time there were many ballots that were cast illegally, some under the names of the dead.

Senator Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, says the reform legislation is aimed at preventing voting irregularities in future elections. "It is a balanced bill, a bill that will make our democracy we believe, even stronger," he said.

The bill, a compromise between versions passed by the House and Senate, is expected to win quick final approval by both houses before next month's midterm elections. But it is not expected to take effect until the 2004 elections.