WASHINGTON – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, considered a probable White House candidate in 2008, joined 2004 nominee Sen. John Kerry and other Democrats today in urging that felons be permitted to vote by 2006.
The provision is part of an election reform bill, the Count Every Vote Act, which includes making Election Day a federal holiday to encourage voting.
There are an estimated 4.7 million Americans barred from voting because of their felonious criminal records.
“Once again we had a federal election that demonstrates we have a long way to go,” said Clinton, who suggested the 2004 presidential vote count was questionable. Kerry lost the election by 3.3 million votes and 118,000 in the pivotal state of Ohio.
Kerry denied the legislation was an attempt to discredit or tarnish President Bush’s election victory.
“This has nothing to do with me,” said Kerry. “It is not partisan, or shouldn’t be.”
Clinton and Kerry were joined in endorsing the bill only by Democrats, including Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
“I think it’s also necessary to make sure our elections meet the highest national standards,” said Clinton.
The bill would also:
- Require paper receipts for votes.
- Authorize $500 million to help states make the changes in voting systems and equipment.
- Require adoption of the changes in time for the 2006 election.
Boxer said the bill “is meant to ensure the election debacle of 2000, and the serious election irregularities of 2004, never ever happen again.”
Both parties have called for changes to ensure a more accurate vote count. Republican efforts have centered on reducing voter fraud, while Democrats have called for making access to the ballot box easier and simpler.