Arlington, VA (CNSNews.com) - States need to create voter databases and identification cards as part of comprehensive election reform, urged Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a pivotal figure in the 2000 presidential election dispute, Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington.
"It will benefit this nation, and I believe it will identify ineligible voters without the risk of excluding legitimate voters," said Harris.
Combating voter fraud is a balance between measures to achieve the greatest level of voter participation and safeguards to prevent fraud, she said.
Florida's "state of the art" database will enable election supervisors to identify voters who are wrongly registered to vote in the state, convicted felons who have not yet had their civil rights restored, and voters who had duplicate registration or are deceased.
Even with the database, Harris added, Florida law still requires the supervisors of elections to double check the status of a vote, with a presumption of eligibility.
Other important election reforms have been put in place in Florida to prevent a recurrence of the uncertainty surrounding the state's re-count laws in the 2000 presidential election that thrust Florida into the apex of political controversy that included state court and federal Supreme Court decisions.
"Because of our reforms, never again will Floridians be subjected to the vacuities of hanging, dangling or impregnated chads," said Harris, referring to the notorious punch cards used by some Florida precincts.
"Never again will we have the punch card," she promised. "Never again will someone who's qualified to vote be turned away at the polls. And most importantly, never again will our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line, suffering [the] indignity of challenges to [the] right to vote at home."
As for the role of the federal government, Harris, like other state attorneys generals, said she welcomes funds but objects to any hint of the feds taking over voting day. "We have states' rights" and principles of federalism, she said.
E-mail a news tip to Christine Hall.
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See Earlier Stories:
Few Changes Made Since 2000 Election Fracas (Nov. 07, 2001)
No More Chads In Florida, Secretary of State Vows (Oct. 17, 2001)
(Editor's note: This is one of a series of articles on the CPAC gathering.)
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