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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 00:01 GMT 01:01 UK
US Senate backs electoral reform
President Bush's inauguration
Bush won the election after weeks of recounts
The United States Senate has overwhelmingly backed a bill to overhaul the country's electoral system, following the fiasco of the 2000 presidential elections.

Planned measures include upgrading voting equipment and, for the first time, setting national standards for voting procedures.

Al Gore
Al Gore suffered a series of result reversals
The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in December last year, and the two bills must now be brought into line before being finally signed into law by President George W Bush.

Mr Bush was confirmed president only after weeks of legal wrangling and recounts following the tightest presidential election in American history.

Critics blamed a variety of voting errors and antiquated polling equipment for the debacle.

Voting irregularities

About two million out of more than 100 million votes were left uncounted, and an unknown number of people were turned away from voting stations because of registration irregularities.

Pregnant chad
So-called pregnant chads were blamed for the fiasco

Under the new legislation, the unreliable punch-card machines which became the focus of repeated recounts in Florida would also be consigned to history by 2004.

Registration would be standardised across the country by 2006, with voters getting the chance to correct errors before submitting their ballot papers.

And a new federal agency would be set up to oversee future elections - tackling fraud and controlling the funding of election counts.

Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford have endorsed the changes, saying the reforms would provide the most meaningful safeguards to the electoral process since the 1960s.

See also:

17 Jul 01 | Americas
US election flaws 'cost 6m votes'
07 Nov 01 | Americas
Flashback: Bush wins the White House
02 Oct 01 | Americas
George W Bush: Wartime president
14 Dec 00 | Americas
The long road to the White House
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