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House Members Promise State Election Officials Funding, Help


Key members of Congress assured state election officials Monday there would be money and help coming from Washington this year to improve voting systems in the wake of the Florida presidential recount.

The chairman of the House Administration Committee and its senior Democrat told a meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State they hope to steer bipartisan legislation to early passage.

“This is going to cost money,” said Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio), the newly installed committee chairman. “There’s got to be funding” to modernize voting equipment and train election workers, he said.

Ney offered no specific sum, but Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), the committee’s ranking minority member, said he will introduce a measure this week to distribute as much as $387 million next year for a national “buyout” of punch-card voting machines of the kind that resulted in thousands of spoiled ballots and caused so much controversy in the Florida recount. A Congressional Research Service report said about one-third of the voters nationally use punch-card machines.

The bill Hoyer said he plans to introduce with Rep. David Price (D-North Carolina) and unnamed Republicans would also set up a bipartisan election commission that could hand out $80 million a year for training election workers and upgrading registration and voting systems.

Bush Nominates Wolfowitz To Pentagon Position


Three years ago, as then-President Clinton prepared to dispatch U.S. aircraft against Iraq in what became the “Desert Fox” campaign, Paul Wolfowitz thought such a limited strike was unwise.

“Absent a strategy, absent any follow-up, (airstrikes) strengthen Saddam Hussein in the region and his own country,” said Wolfowitz, who served as a top Pentagon official during the Persian Gulf War before becoming dean of the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

Wolfowitz was among those who favored creating a haven in southern Iraq where opposition groups and renegade Iraqi soldiers could flee and regroup, possibly under the protection of the U.S. military.

Now he will have a chance to mold such policies from the Pentagon. President Bush said Monday that he would nominate Wolfowitz to the No. 2 post at the Pentagon, where he will serve as deputy to new Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The position requires Senate confirmation.

A resident of Chevy Chase, Md., Wolfowitz, 57, was one of candidate Bush’s top foreign policy and defense advisers and, for a time, a front-runner for the top defense job. But some Bush advisers believed Wolfowitz lacked the managerial skills to run the sprawling Pentagon, which has overwhelmed many seasoned bureaucrats with its battling fiefdoms and complex weapons programs.