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Fenty Questions Proposed Anti-Voter Fraud Legislation

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By Patrick Madden

As D.C. prepares for this falls local elections, some lawmakers say the city needs to toughen its anti-voter fraud legislation.

It was one of the D.C. Councils final acts before breaking for summer recess: emergency legislation making it illegal to pay someone to vote or register to vote. These acts are already banned under federal law. But the bills sponsor, Council Member Mary Cheh, says it made sense to put these rules on the books here in the District as well.

"If the federal government is not interested for whatever reason, is not interested in pursuing issues, you always have the local backstop," says Cheh.

Part of the concern, Cheh says, was prompted by the fact the city has made it easier to vote. D.C. is now among a handful of jurisdictions that allow same-day registration.

But the bill has not been warmly received by Mayor Adrian Fenty, who must sign the emergency legislation for it to become law.

"I don't think any elected officials, who are up for election, should make a practice of changing the laws that close to election day," says Fenty.

Fenty also questions why the bill was passed without a public hearing.

The mayor will not say whether he'll veto the bill or not. Fenty says the legislation still hasn't reached his desk and he needs input from his staff before deciding what to do.

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