Saturday, November 17, 2007

Keith Ellison being a busy little political beaver.

Politics: Both of these requirements would help Demorcrats while increasing the chance for fraud.

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - A House panel held a feisty hearing Friday on Rep. Keith Ellison's bill to require states to have same-day voter registration for federal elections, with Democrats touting increased voter turnout while Republicans said the practice would lead to more voter fraud.

Ellison, a freshman Minnesota Democrat, noted that his home state has used same-day voter registration for decades, and that Minnesota had a 78 percent voter turnout in the last presidential election.

The right to vote "should not be conditional on the ability to navigate bureaucracy or meet artificial, arbitrary deadlines," he testified in a hearing before a House Administration subcommittee on elections.

Ellison got backing from Democratic Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, but Ritchie's predecessor, Republican Mary Kiffmeyer, threw cold water on the idea.

Kiffmeyer said that if you don't think vote stealing is a problem, "Next time you leave, don't lock your home and don't lock your car door, if you have that kind of absolute trust."

Other Republicans made similar arguments.

Testifying alongside Ellison was Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who said election officials need to verify that people are who they say they are.

"That means a picture ID," said King, taking aim at another Ellison bill, which would ban states from mandating photo IDs for voting in federal elections. Ellison argues that requirement disenfranchises minorities, the poor, women, elderly and young people.

And King said that if same-day voting is to take place, such votes should be counted as provisional - meaning they would be checked later to verify their eligibility. Ellison said he would oppose that requirement. A study of the 2004 presidential election by electionline.org, a nonpartisan clearinghouse for election reform information, found that about two-thirds of the more than 1.6 million provisional ballots cast that election were counted.

The subcommittee's ranking Republican, Kevin McCarthy of California, noted that a task force in Milwaukee found voting irregularities in that city during the 2004 presidential election, in a state that also uses same-day voter registration.

But Neil Albrecht, deputy director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, said that while there were problems, it would be unfair to label the city a "voter fraud city." And he said that same-day voter registration helped the city pull in a record-setting turnout in 2004.

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