Hoyer: Decision on California Recall Dramatizes the Need for Election Reform

For Immediate Release:

September 15, 2003

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, a principal sponsor in the U.S. House of Representatives of landmark federal election reform, released the following statement today after a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals postponed California’s October 7 gubernatorial recall election:

“The federal appeals court today recognized that you cannot really have a recall ‘election,’ or any election for that matter, if you cannot guarantee voters that their votes are going to count.  The court all but said: We don’t want a repeat of the Florida debacle in California.

“This decision demonstrates that despite the progress we have made since November 2000, we still have a long way to go before outdated voting technologies, such as obsolete punch card machines, are retired forever.  Last year, Congress passed and President Bush signed landmark federal election reform – the Help America Vote Act – which calls on the federal government to provide states $3.8 billion to improve their election systems.  However, the federal government is falling substantially short of that commitment and must provide close to $2 billion before the end of this year if a repeat of the 2000 election is to be avoided on 2004.

“As the court’s ruling today illustrates, it is imperative that the federal government fully fund the election reform proposals contained in the Help America Vote Act.  If we fail to do that, then we are failing democracy at the most fundamental level.  California’s recall postponement must not be a bad omen for the rest of the country in next year’s national election.

“I will be working with Chairman Bob Ney to secure full funding of the Help America Vote Act in the coming weeks.”

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