Fwd: House Admin markup scheduled on HR 811 for Thursday, March 29th

From: Nancy Tobi <ntobi_at_democracyfornewhampshire_dot_com>
Date: Tue Mar 27 2007 - 13:30:59 CDT

 *Fast Track.*

*The House Administration (full committee) is planning to markup Rep. Holt's
Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 (HR. 811) on
Thursday, March 29th at 10am*. Any letters in support of or opposition to
this bill should be addressed to House Administration and faxed to them
today or tomorrow so they can be inserted in the Record. The fax numbers
for the committee are listed below. The letters can be the same letters
you have been sending to your Congressional delegation, simply readdressed
to Chairwoman Millender-McDonald and Ranking Member Ehlers.

*Members of the Committee on House Administration*

*Democrats Fax Number 202-225-7664*

*Republicans Fax Number 202-225-9957*

Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, CA-37,
Chairwoman

Rep. Vernon Ehlers, MI-3,
Ranking Member

Rep. Robert A. Brady, PA-1st

Rep. Dan Lungren, CA-3

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, CA-16th

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, CA-22

Rep. Mike Capuano, MA-8

Rep. Charles Gonzalez, TX-20

Rep. Susan Davis, CA-53

The last scheduled vote for the House is Thursday, March 29th sometime in
the afternoon/evening. The House will then adjourn for Easter break (April
2-April 13). This means that it is very unlikely that the bill will go to
the House floor for a vote before the end of this week.

On Friday, March 23rd, the Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on
Elections held a hearing on Rep. Holt's HR 811 Voter Confidence and
Increased Accessibility Act of 2007. House Administration still doesn't
have anything posted on their website regarding the hearing so we contacted
them to get the testimony. We created our own page on HR 811
http://www.nass.org/Hill%20Documents/HR%20811%20Webpage.dwt. This page
lists letters from Secretaries to their Members of Congress regarding HR
811. If you have sent a letter to Congress and you would like me to post it
on this page, please send it to me via email and I can post it to this
page.

Below is a summary of that hearing.

*House Administration Elections Subcommittee members present:*

Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)

Rep. Juanita Millender McDonald (D-CA) Chairwoman of Full Committee

Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX)

Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA)

Ranking Member Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) Ranking Member of Full Committee

*Panel I *

The only witness on this first panel was *Governor Charlie Crist of Florida*.
He discussed the legislation currently proposed in the FL legislature. The
proposed state legislation would require a paper ballot by the fall of
2008. The bill would replace all touch screen machines with optical scan
equipment. He said this bill would also employ a "ballot on demand" system
for early voting and eliminate the need for touch screens at early voting
sites. During Q&A, Gov. Crist told Chairwoman Lofgren that they would be
able to meet the fall of 2008 timeline if his legislature passed the
legislation quickly and if they provided the necessary funding. He also
explained that they will meet the disability component of HAVA by having a
touch screen ballot marking device.

Panel II

*Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI)* testified on the second
panel. Rep. Holt said that his legislation would require that each vote be
verifiable and that the election results are publicly auditable. He said he
would be willing to change the word "archival" currently found in his
legislation to "durable" however that would still not allow for thermal
paper, because he didn't consider the thermal paper to be durable. When
asked why it wasn't sufficient to allow the states to move forward with
their own state legislation like Florida, Rep. Holt said that he felt his
bill was better than anything the states have in place or are considering.
Rep. Petri said that he had some technical issues with the bill. Chairwoman
Lofgren asked him if he thought those could be addressed and he indicated
that he thought they could. Chairwoman Lofgren asked Rep. Holt if his bill
includes verification for the disabled. He said his bill requires it.
Ranking Member McCarthy (R-CA) told Rep. Holt that he has heard from many
state and local election officials, including testimony in earlier hearings,
who oppose the bill. He also introduced letters for the record opposing the
legislation from NCSL and NACo. Rep. Holt said that not all election
officials oppose the legislation and said he had a letter to introduce for
the record as well. He said he thought that the reason so many election
officials were opposed to his bill was because he has found that they don't
like being told what to do. Full Committee Ranking Member Ehlers (R-MI)
asked Rep. Holt if there were DRE's that meet the requirements of the bill.
Rep. Holt told him that there were five to six vendors that have DRE's that
meet the requirements of the bill and would submit the vendor names to the
committee. Rep. Ehlers said he didn't oppose the intent of the bill, but
did agree with the state and local election officials he's heard from that
the bill is overly prescriptive. He said federal legislation should
establish the principle but not prescribe the method and he will propose
changes to the bill.

Panel III

*California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and South Dakota Secretary of
State Chris Nelson* testified on the third panel. Sec. Bowen testified that
every state election affects every other state's citizens and that states
should accomplish fair and open elections. In CA, she looked at the steps
that state and local governments should undertake to achieve fair and open
elections. In CA all DRE's are required to have a VVPAT, there is a
mandatory 1% recount that every county does before election is certified and
she is doing a top to bottom review of all equipment and procedures in CA.
She said that CA will get their review and necessary changes made by 2008.
Subcommittee Chairwoman Lofgren asked Sec. Bowen if her review could end up
decertifying voting machines. Sec. Bowen said it could and that they may
not be able to replace before the primaries in 2008 but that they could
borrow equipment from other states, as has been done before. Sec. Bowen
said that we also need better and more options for accessible equipment.
Subcommittee Ranking Member McCarthy (R-CA) asked Sec. Bowen if the $300
million referenced in the Holt bill was enough to make changes required by
the legislation and she said no. He also asked her if 2008 is a "doable"
implementation date. She said 2008 is doable for some parts of the bill but
not others. She said that auditing should be random but must audit each
vote cast and that she wasn't sure what the right number was, but that
auditing 1% of the ballots cast was not high enough. She said that
statisticians should be looking at the right number. Sec. Nelson said that
SD uses optical scan ballots and ballot marking devices because that was the
equipment SD voters wanted. He said Congress should be asking how we can
improve democracy without damaging what is already working. He said state
and local governments are best positioned to drive election reform and asked
that Congress work with state and local officials to finish implementing
HAVA before calling for more changes to the system. He said the approach
taken by the Holt bill was a "one size fits all" approach and that it would
cause unintended consequences.

Panel IV

The fourth panel included Tanya Clay House of People for the American Way;
George Gilbert, Director of Elections, Guilford County, NC; Edward Felten,
Ph.D., Professor in Computer Science and Public Affairs, Princeton
University; and Don Norris, Ph.D., and Professor in Public Policy,
University of Maryland. Ms. Clay House said that People for the American
Way supported HR 811 with proper funding and a reasonable timeframes. Mr.
Gilbert said the most effective thing this Congress could do is to encourage
and pursue technological developments to improve elections. Mr. Felten said
that computers have a role to play in elections, but this should be coupled
with paper and that the primary record of the vote should be the paper.
Lastly, Mr. Norris said that HR 811 was a flawed bill that basically ends
electronic voting and stifles innovation. He said that if the concern is
verifying votes, then the bill should indicate an independent vote
verification process. Rep. Juanita Millender McDonald said that independent
verification is the direction of standards writing for the TGDC. George
Gilbert said he was opposed to the feasibility and costs associated with HR
811. Rep. Juanita Millender McDonald introduced her statement into the
record and said she also had letters of opposition from Connie McCormack, LA
County Registrar and Judy Duffy of the League of Women Voters.

Panel V

The final panel included Noel Runyan of Personal Data Systems, Dr. Snider of
Access for the Handicap, Warren Stewart of VoteTrustUSA and Commissioner
Gail Mahoney of Jackson County Michigan and Chair of NACo. Mr. Runyan said
that he is focused on improving access to voting systems. He was told that
the new accessible systems would be rigorously federally vetted. He said in
the last three out of five elections, he hasn't been able to use the
accessible equipment in his polling place. Chairwoman Lofgren asked him what
he would recommend be employed in polling places and he said optical scan
and ballot marking devices. Dr. Snider thanked Rep. Holt for reaching out
to him, but that his bill slows down the progress of improving election
equipment for the disabled. He asked that Congress keep the promise of HAVA
with accessible voting for the disabled. Mr. Stewart said that the Holt
bill is essential and that he has prepared cost projections for how much it
would cost to comply with the Holt bill based on what equipment
jurisdictions were using for the November 2006 elections. (optical scan no
changes; DRE retrofit with printers). Stewart said the changes could be
done by 2008 based on the fact that the FL governor testified earlier that
they were making their changes by 2008. The committee asked Stewart to
submit his calculations to them immediately (
http://www.votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2339&Itemid=1222).
Commissioner Mahoney said that she supports the goals of HR 811 but
implementing would bring results Congress doesn't want. She said the
process needs to be slowed down. She said that if the states and localities
had actually been given the full amount of time of time HAVA intended and
the full funding authorized, we would not need this hearing now.

-- 
Nancy Tobi, Chair
NH Fair Elections Committee
Tel: 603.315.4500

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Received on Sat Mar 31 23:17:07 2007

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