WASHINGTON (CNN) – Armed with anecdotal evidence from thousands of calls placed to voter hotlines last year, a group of voting rights advocates will lobby Congress Thursday for changes to the federal laws relating to the nation's election administration systems.
"So much of the process right now is set up with barriers for the voter that is more focused on going through so many hoops to actually exercise the franchise," John Bonifaz, the Legal Director of Voter Action told CNN.
A national coalition of voting rights groups including Voter Action, the NAACP National Voter Fund and the Advancement Project, will present a report Thursday to Pennsylvania Rep. Robert Brady, chairman of the House Administration Committee, that makes the case for a number of electoral reforms. The hearing is titled: "Engaging the Electorate-Strategies for Expanding Access to Democracy."
The report is based on a review of roughly 17,000 calls placed by voters in Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia to two voter hotlines – one marketed by the NAACP National Voter Fund primarily to African-American audiences and another marketed primarily by CNN and its affiliated networks.
"The focus should be – as we try to highlight in this report – how do we enable the voter to exercise the franchise in an unencumbered way?" Bonifaz said.
Advocates will push Congress to make three fundamental changes to how elections are conducted.
(CNN) - A new poll of Connecticut voters indicates that Senator Christopher Dodd's approval rating is on the rise, but still in negative territory.
Forty-two percent of people questioned in a Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday morning say they approve of how Dodd is handling his duties as senator, up nine points from April. But 52 percent disapprove of the job Dodd's doing in office.
The poll suggests Dodd is still struggling with independent voters, with six in 10 giving the five term Democratic senator who's up for re-election next year a thumbs down.
Quinnipiac's April poll came out right after the news of Dodd's involvement in the AIG bonus controversy. Since then, a bill Dodd co-sponsored that makes it tougher for credit card issuers to raise feeds and interest rates was signed into law. And with Sen. Ted Kennedy sidelined as he battles brain cancer, Dodd as taken a leading role in steering health care reform through one of the key congressional committees dealing with the legislation.
"Sen. Dodd's numbers among Democrats are back to where they used to be," says Quinnipiac University poll director Douglas Schwartz. "But he still is struggling with Independents, who will be harder to win back than his own partisans."
"Dodd's most glaring weakness continues to be that a majority of voters say he is not honest and trustworthy. This is not something that will be easy for Dodd to reverse," adds Schwartz.
The poll indicates Dodd trails former congressman Rob Simmons, a likely Republican challenger, 48 to 39 percent in a hypothetical matchup in next year's Senate race.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted July 16-20, with 1,499 Connecticut registered voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
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(CNN) - It was a prime time mix up.
Steve Thomma, a reporter for McClatchy, got called out in jest by President Obama at Wednesday's press conference for asking a question when in fact the president had called on a different reporter.
Late into his prime time press conference, Obama called on the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Steve Koff to ask a question, but Thomma instead rose to the microphone.
Seemingly unaware of the mix up, Obama answered Thomma's question on health care reform, and dropped references to his impending trip to Cleveland Thursday.
But the president, upon finishing his answer, was quickly made aware the wrong reporter asked the question.
"Oh," Obama said as the press corps erupted in laughter. "I said Steve Koff but he (Steve Thomma) just stood up, huh?"
"That's not fair. Shame on you," Obama, appearing amused, added.
Koff was then allowed to ask a question.