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Kerry Promotes Election Reform

Many voters in last year's presidential election were denied access to the polls through trickery and intimidation, former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search) told a voters' group Sunday.

"Last year too many people were denied their right to vote, too many who tried to vote were intimidated," the Massachusetts senator said at an event sponsored by the state League of Women Voters (search).

"There is no magic wand. No one person is going to stand up and suddenly say it's going to change tomorrow. You have to do that," he said.

Kerry supporters have charged that voting irregularities in largely Democratic areas made it difficult for voters to cast ballots in the November election. A lawsuit in Ohio cited long lines and a shortage of voting machines in predominantly minority neighborhoods, but the Ohio Supreme Court (search) dismissed the suit.

Kerry also cited examples Sunday of how people were duped into not voting.

"Leaflets are handed out saying Democrats vote on Wednesday, Republicans vote on Tuesday. People are told in telephone calls that if you've ever had a parking ticket, you're not allowed to vote," he said.

Kerry has never disputed the outcome of election, saying voting irregularities did not involve enough votes to change the result. Bush won the pivotal state of Ohio by 118,000 votes, giving him enough electoral votes to win re-election.

The Republican National Committee dismissed Kerry's comments Sunday.

"While President Bush and members of Congress are working to move our country forward, it's disappointing that some Democrats are focused on rehashing baseless allegations more than five months after the election," RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said.

Earlier this year, Kerry joined Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., in filing voting reform legislation. The Count Every Vote Act would create a federal holiday for voting, require paper receipts for votes and authorize $500 million to help states upgrade voting systems and equipment.

Congress' investigative agency, the Government Accountability Office, has also begun looking into the handling of provisional ballots and malfunctions of voting machines. The study could lead to changes in the election process.

Kerry, using crutches as he recovers from knee surgery, suggested the United States should spend as much time promoting democracy at home as it does abroad in countries like Iraq.

"We need to go about the business of making our own democracy in America work better," he said.