WASHINGTON – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search), a possible White House candidate in 2008, joined 2004 nominee John Kerry and other Democrats Thursday in urging that Election Day be made a federal holiday to encourage voting.
She also pushed for legislation that would allow all ex-felons to vote.
Standing with Massachusetts Sen. Kerry (search) and other Democrats who had alleged voting irregularities in the 2004 contest, Clinton said, "Once again we had a federal election that demonstrates we have a long way to go."
"I think it's also necessary to make sure our elections meet the highest national standards," said the New York senator.
She and Kerry, both considered contenders for the 2008 nomination, were joined by Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (search), D-Calif., who forced a highly unusual House and Senate debate Jan. 6 on the presidential election results.
Kerry, who lost the national contest by 3.3 million votes nationwide, and 118,000 within Ohio, denied the bill was an attempt to discredit the 2004 results.
"This has nothing to do with me," said Kerry. "It is not partisan, or shouldn't be."
Clinton echoed those comments, though her senatorial re-election committee, Friends of Hillary, is pushing the bill hard.
Visitors to the group's Web site are greeted first with a full-page form asking people to endorse the Count Every Vote Act.
"My Web site has information about everything I work on. This is one of my biggest priorities and obviously I hope that people who share our goal of making sure every vote counts will support us," said Clinton.
In addition to creating a federal holiday for voting, the bill would:
— Require paper receipts for votes.
— Authorize $500 million to help states make the changes in voting systems and equipment.
— Allow ex-felons to vote. Currently an estimated 4.7 million Americans are barred from voting because of their criminal records.
— 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.