Secretary of State questions legality of voting bill

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(Host) Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says voting reform legislation passed by the Vermont House last Friday is in clear violation of federal law. Markowitz says the state of Vermont will have to return $5 million in federal funds if the bill is not amended in the Senate.

When the House debated the so called “Help America Vote Act” late last week, a number of members objected to a provision in the bill that requires new voters to present their driver’s license identification number to town clerks when they register to vote. There was concern that requiring a person to use their motor vehicle ID number to register to vote would set the foundation for a national identification card system.

Markowitz says this provision is a federal mandate and that Vermont doesn’t have the option of removing it from law.

(Markowitz) “There are court cases already out there that would make it clear that if we were to challenge the law this way we would surely lose. And in challenging it we would also lose the $5 million that we have already from the federal government and need to implement the other provisions of the law.”

(Host) Markowitz says she’s optimistic that the legislation will be changed in the Senate to deal with her concerns. The bill creates a statewide voter check list to help reduce voter fraud. It also requires all communities to have voting machines for visually disabled voters. And the bill mandates extensive voter education programs for all poll workers.

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