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Rules Democrats Revolt On Electronic Voting Bill

House Democrats had a little-noticed hiccup this week over the issue of electronic voting.

But the policy squable is more relevant for its political implications than for the legislation at hand.

Democratic leaders ran into a speed bump within their own caucus this week over legislation requiring states and other municipalities to maintain printed records for paper-less electronic voting machines by 2008.

The speed bump in this case was a pretty big one: Democrats on the powerful Rules Committee, who aired their opposition to the bill during an open committee hearing Wednesday.

This is remarkable because the Rules Committee is historically the speaker's most important tool in crafting legislation. In fact, the speaker used to chair the committee before Congress changed the rules in the early part of the 20th Century. And it is rare for the committee chair, who is now chosen by the speaker, to openly oppose legislation cleared for the floor by leadership.

Those historic precedents didn't stop Rules Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.) from sharing her misgivings about the bill with Republicans and Democrats alike in the open committee meeting.

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