Legislation to Require All Voting Machines To Produce A Voter-Verified Paper Trail

From: Fred McLain <mclain_at_zipcon_dot_net>
Date: Wed Aug 11 2004 - 13:40:40 CDT

A helpful initiative we may want to support:


Rep. Rush Holt Introduces Legislation to Require All Voting Machines To
Produce A Voter-Verified Paper Trail


Washington, DC – Rep. Rush Holt today responded to the growing chorus of
concern from election reform specialists and computer security experts
about the integrity of future elections by introducing reform
legislation, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of
2003. The measure would require all voting machines to produce an actual
paper record by 2004 that voters can view to check the accuracy of their
votes and that election officials can use to verify votes in the event
of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity. Experts
often refer to this paper record as a “voter-verified paper trail.”


“We cannot afford nor can we permit another major assault on the
integrity of the American electoral process,” said Rep. Rush Holt.
“Imagine it’s Election Day 2004. You enter your local polling place and
go to cast your vote on a brand new “touch screen” voting machine. The
screen says your vote has been counted. As you exit the voting booth,
however, you begin to wonder. How do I know if the machine actually
recorded my vote? The fact is, you don’t.”


Last October, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA),
groundbreaking election reform legislation that is currently helping
states throughout the country replace antiquated and unreliable punch
card and butterfly ballot voting systems. HAVA, however, is having an
unintended consequence. It is fueling a rush by states and localities
to purchase computer-voting systems that suffer from a serious flaw;
voters and election officials have no way of knowing whether the
computers are counting votes properly. Hundreds of nationally renowned
computer scientists, including internationally renowned expert David
Dill of Stanford University, consider a voter-verified paper trial to be
a critical safeguard for the accuracy, integrity and security of
computer-assisted elections.


“Voting should not be an act of blind faith. It should be an act of
record,” said Rep Rush Holt. “But current law does nothing to protect
the integrity of our elections against computer malfunction, computer
hackers, or any other potential irregularities.”


There have already been several examples of computer error in
elections. In the 2002 election, brand new computer voting systems used
in Florida lost over 100,000 votes due to a software error. Errors and
irregularities were also reported in New Jersey, Missouri, Georgia,
Texas, and at least 10 other states.


“A recount requires that there be a reliable record to check,” said
Holt. “Without an actual paper record that each voter can
confidentially inspect, faulty or hacked computer systems will simply
spit out the same faulty or hacked result. Every vote in every election
matters. We can and should do this in time for the 2004 federal


Key provisions of The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act
of 2003 include:


1) Requires all voting systems to produce a voter-verified paper
record for use in manual audits and recounts. For those using the
increasingly popular ATM-like “DRE”(Direct Recording Electronic)
machines, this requirement means the DRE would print a receipt that each
voter would verify as accurate and deposit into a lockbox for later use
in a recount. States would have until November 2003 to request
additional funds to meet this requirement.


2) Bans the use of undisclosed software and wireless communications
devices in voting systems.


3) Requires all voting systems to meet these requirements in time
for the general election in November 2004. Jurisdictions that feel
their new computer systems may not be able to meet this deadline may use
an existing paper system as an interim measure (at federal expense) in
the November 2004 election.


4) Requires that electronic voting system be provided for persons
with disabilities by January 1, 2006 -- one year earlier than currently
required by HAVA. Like the voting machines for non-disabled voters,
those used by disabled voters must also provide a mechanism for
voter-verification, though not necessarily a paper trail. Jurisdictions
unable to meet this requirement by the deadline must give disabled
voters the option to use the interim paper system with the assistance of
an aide of their choosing.


5) Requires mandatory surprise recounts in 0.5% of domestic
jurisdictions and 0.5% of overseas jurisdictions.
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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:08 2004

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