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New York Times Editorial: How to Trust Electronic Voting PDF  | Print |  Email
Federal Legislation
By The New York Times   
June 22, 2009
The House leadership should make passing Mr. Holt’s bill a priority. Few issues matter as much as ensuring that election results can be trusted.

This editorial was published in the New York Times on June 22, 2009.

Electronic voting machines that do not produce a paper record of every vote cast cannot be trusted. In 2008, more than one-third of the states, including New Jersey and Texas, still did not require all votes to be recorded on paper. Representative Rush Holt has introduced a good bill that would ban paperless electronic voting in all federal elections. Congress should pass it while there is still time to get ready for 2010.

In paperless electronic voting, voters mark their choices, and when the votes have all been cast, the machine spits out the results. There is no way to be sure that a glitch or intentional vote theft — by malicious software or computer hacking — did not change the outcome. If there is a close election, there is also no way of conducting a meaningful recount.

Mr. Holt’s bill would require paper ballots to be used for every vote cast in November 2010. It would help prod election officials toward the best of the currently available technologies: optical-scan voting. With optical scans, voters fill out a paper ballot that is then read by computer — much like a standardized test. The votes are counted quickly and efficiently by computer, but the paper ballot remains the official vote, which can then be recounted by hand.
Read more... Praises Bill to Establish Verifiable Elections Nationwide PDF  | Print |  Email
Federal Legislation
June 17, 2009 praised U.S. Representative Rush Holt's introduction today of HR 2894, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2009.  Cosponsored by 75 House members, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act would require voter-marked paper ballots in all federal elections. The bill would authorize funding for states to purchase new voting equipment, require hand-counted audits of electronic vote tallies, and reform the process of testing voting equipment.

"This bill is so long overdue.  It provides a basic element of democracy: a verifiable ballot for every voter," said Warren Stewart, Legislative Policy Director for “And it does its job in the most reliable way, with paper ballots marked by the voters. That is a cost-effective technology that a majority of Americans already use; HR 2894 simply makes it our nationwide system,” Stewart said.

In 2008, almost 60 percent of the nation's voters cast their votes on paper ballots that were read by electronic scanning devices. In the last several years, voter-marked paper ballots have become the most popular means of providing a paper record of each vote. “Paper trail” printers attached to voting machines are an alternative method of providing a paper record, but have reliability problems, such as printer jams. They are cumbersome to recount, raise privacy concerns because they store all votes on a continuous roll, and go unchecked by significant numbers of voters.
House Panel Passes Rep. Susan Davis’s Election Reform Bills PDF  | Print |  Email
Federal Legislation
By Rep. Susan Davis Press Release   
June 10, 2009
No Excuse Absentee, Absentee Tracking and Election Integrity Bills Approved    

A package of election reform bills sponsored by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) cleared an initial hurdle today.  The House Administration Committee approved legislation to allow for national no-excuse absentee voting, help voters track absentee ballots, and prevent a state’s chief elections official from serving on federal campaign committees.

“Democracy flourishes when all Americans have a fair chance to participate in elections and have confidence that the process is fair,” said Davis, a member of the committee.  “I’d like to thank Chairman Brady and my colleagues on the committee for passing this package of bills.”

The bills passed by the committee were:
· Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (H.R. 1604) - Allows all eligible voters nationwide to vote by mail for any reason in federal elections. Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia restrict an eligible voter’s ability to vote by mail, also known as absentee.  The bill also removes the doctor’s note, notary and privacy information requirements imposed by some states.

· The Absentee Ballot Track, Receive and Confirm (TRAC) Act (H.R. 2510) - Helps states, through a grant program, to establish absentee ballot tracking systems.  An absentee ballot tracking system allows voters to easily find out, online or through an automated phone system, whether an elections office has sent out a ballot, whether a completed ballot has arrived back at the registrar’s office and whether the ballot was actually counted.  Davis worked with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), also a member of the committee, in sponsoring H.R. 2510.

· The Federal Election Integrity Act (H.R. 512) - Prohibits the chief elections official of a state from serving on federal campaign committees or engaging in other political activity, such as fundraising, on behalf of federal candidates in any election over which the official has supervisory authority.
The action by the House Administration Committee clears the bills to be considered by the full House of Representatives.
Electronic Voting Bill PDF  | Print |  Email
Federal Legislation
By Senator Dianne Feinstein   
August 12, 2008
This letter was published by the New York Times on August 11, 2008

Washington, Aug. 6, 2008

To the Editor:

A Bad Electronic Voting Bill” (editorial, Aug. 3) criticized the fact that a bipartisan bill being considered by the Senate Rules Committee would require that all states provide voters with a paper record or other means of verifying votes on electronic voting systems.

I have said over and over again that I personally favor voting systems with paper ballots that are read by optical scanners. But I am convinced that there is no way we could move such a bill through Congress. Such paper-only efforts have failed in the House, and have no bipartisan support in the Senate.

About 35 percent of the voters currently use touch-screen systems and another 55 percent use optical scan systems. Therefore, the important thing is to see that these systems are accurate, reliable and secure.

I believe that the Bipartisan Electronic Voting Reform Act, which I sponsored with Senator Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, is the best we can do right now. So I am pleased that my ranking member joined me through long rounds of negotiations to produce this bill.

Dianne Feinstein
Chairwoman, Senate Committee
on Rules and Administration

A Bad Electronic Voting Bill PDF  | Print |  Email
Federal Legislation
By New York Times   
August 02, 2008
This editorial is published in the August 3, 2008 New York Times.

Congress has stood idly by while states have done the hard work of trying to make electronic voting more reliable. Now the Senate is taking up a dangerous bill introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, that would make things worse in the name of reform. If Congress will not pass a strong bill, it should apply the medical maxim: first, do no harm.

Voters cannot trust the totals reported by electronic voting machines; they are too prone to glitches and too easy to hack. In the last few years, concerned citizens have persuaded states to pass bills requiring electronic voting machines to use paper ballots or produce voter-verifiable paper records of every vote. More than half of the states now have such laws.

There is still a need for a federal law, so voting is reliable in every state. A good law would require that every vote in a federal election produce a voter-verifiable paper record, and it would mandate that the paper records be the official ballots. It would impose careful standards for how these paper ballots must be “audited,” to verify that the tallies on the electronic machines are correct.
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