A bill requiring the 48 contiguous states to close their polls simultaneously in presidential election years has been passed by the House and sent to the Senate on a vote of 204 for and 171 against.
Beginning in 1988, polls every fourth November would be required to close at 9 p.m. in the Eastern time zone, 8 p.m. in the Central, and 7 p.m. in the Pacific and Mountain zones. All the closings would be on local times. During presidential election years only, daylight-saving time in the Pacific zone would be extended two weeks to include Election Day, thus making the simultaneous closings mathematically possible.
The purpose of uniform poll-closing is to minimize the perceived effect of network news projections on voter turnout in states where voting has not yet ended.
Sponsors say that with all polls closing at once in the 48 states, calls of winners and losers based on early voting patterns stand no chance of discouraging turnout in western areas of the country.
Supporter William M. Thomas (R-Bakersfield) called the bill a "very modest attempt to deal with this advancing technology" of network news gathering, such as exit polling.
Opponent Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.) said the bill invaded states' rights to address an overstated problem, and that it was "social tinkering with the most precious right of the American people . . . the election franchise."
Members voting yes favored uniform nationwide poll-closing in November of presidential election years.
How They Voted Yea Nay No Vote Rep. Dreier (R) x Rep. Martinez (D) x Rep. Moorhead (R) x Rep. Roybal (D) x Rep. Torres (D) x Advocacy for Mentally Ill
A bill creating a new categorical grant program under which states would be virtually required to set up agencies to advocate the rights of the mentally ill has passed the House on a vote of 290 for and 84 against. Cost of the program would be $33 million over three years.
The bill (HR 4055), which was sent to the Senate, also expands federal programs in behalf of victims of Alzheimer's disease and their families.
In much the way that mentally retarded persons now enjoy protections set by federal statute, the mentally ill would see their legal clout strengthened by this bill. The advocacy groups could sue on behalf of recently released as well as institutionalized patients, and they would be required to operate independently of existing mental health agencies.
Sponsor Stewart McKinney (R-Conn.) said the bill "establishes a long-overdue advocacy system to prevent the abuse and neglect of the mentally ill."
Opponent William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) said, "Apparently in the eyes of the proponents of this legislation, an annual deficit of $200 billion is not high enough, a national debt of $1.8 trillion is not big enough to deter them."
Members voting yes wanted to set up a new federal program for the mentally ill.
How They Voted Yea Nay No Vote Rep. Dreier (R) x Rep. Martinez (D) x Rep. Moorhead (R) x Rep. Roybal (D) x Rep. Torres (D) x