ACTION: Ask Your Representative To Co-Sponsor Election Confidence “Holt” Bill

Update 7/23/2009: We note that Joe Courtney has been added to the list of co-sponsors.  Thanks to Rep Courtney and those who contacted him.  Still time to call and encourage Rep. DeLauro and Rep. Murphy to join the majority of the Connecticut delegation.

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Rush Holt introduced a new and improved Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, H.R. 2894.  There are 77 Co-Sponsors.  If you live in the 2nd, 3rd, or 5th District, please ask your Representative: Courtney, DeLauro, or Murphy to add their names as Co-Sponsors. Here is a convenient form courtesy of Verified Voting: Email Letter To Your Representative

CTVotersCount appreciates Representatives John Larson and Jim Himes for signing on as initial co-sponsors.   You can use the form above to think them.

Representative Holt has been working for several years to provide the voting integrity missing for our elections and the Help America Vote Act.  This Act improves over bills previously proposed in several areas. <ref> <ref> <ref>   It will require every vote to be on a voter marked paper ballot!  Advocates appreciate changes which make the bill stronger, election officials will appreciate some extended deadlines and other changes making it more palatable.

Connecticut will benefit because H.R. 2894 will:

  • Insure that all states conduct audits and use voter marked paper ballots.  This will increase the integrity of all elections. This will help assure that the intentions of Connecticut voters are not thwarted by inadequate procedures and equipment in other states which could compromise the integrity of presidential votes nationwide or the balance in Congress.
  • Pay the cost of even year audits in Connecticut. Connecticut has completed several comprehensive post-election audits of our optical scanners. One of the strongest objections by registrars and towns was that audits are unfunded mandates. The 2007 and 2008 audits in Connecticut were reimbursed by HAVA funding. This bill will assure that audits in even years will continue to be funded by Federal funds.
  • Insure that Connecticut has Independent Audits.  Connecticut’s audit law falls short of this bill’s standard for independent audits. Independent audits are supported by The League of Women Voters, Common Cause, The Brennan Center for Justice, Verified Voting, Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz, and CTVotersCount.

Other key provisions as summarized by Verified Voting <read>

The Press Release:

News from
Representative Rush Holt
12th District, New Jersey
http://www.holt.house.gov

For Immediate Release                  Contact: Zach Goldberg
June 17, 2009
202-225-5801

HOLT REINTRODUCES VOTER CONFIDENCE AND INCREASED ACCESSIBILITY ACT

Bill Would Require Voter-Verified Paper Ballot and Random Audits

(Washington, D.C.) – Rep. Rush Holt today reintroduced the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, legislation that would create a national standard of voting to help ensure that every vote is recorded and counted as intended. The bill would require paper ballot voting systems accompanied by accessible ballot marking devices and require routine random audits of electronic voting tallies. The bill has 75 cosponsors.

“It is time we stop using elections as beta tests for unreliable electronic voting machines,” Holt said. “The ability to vote is the most important right as it is the right through which citizens secure all other rights. Voters shouldn’t have any doubts about whether their votes count and are counted. Congress should pass a national standard ensuring that all voters can record their votes on paper and requiring that in every election, randomly selected precincts be audited.”

In every federal election that has taken place since the Help America Vote Act was enacted in 2003, citizen watchdog groups have gathered and reported information pertaining to voting machine failures.  In the 2004 election, more than 4,800 voting machine were reported to the Election Incident Reporting System, from all but eight states.   In the 2006 election, a sampling of voting machine problems gathered by election integrity groups and media reports revealed more than 1,000 such incidents from more than 300 counties in all but 14 states.  And in 2008, the Our Vote Live hotline received reports of almost 2,000 voting machine problems in all but 12 states.

While many states and counties have addressed verified voting on their own – jurisdictions serving 10 million voters moved to paper ballot voting systems between 2006 and 2008 alone – in 2008, 19 states (7 complete states, and some number of counties in approximately a dozen other states) conducted completely unauditable elections.

Paperless electronic voting seems more modern and many election officials like it, but it is entirely unverifiable and unauditable. Because voting is secret, only the voter can verify that the vote is recorded properly, and when the only record of the vote is digital the voter cannot do so. Computer scientists say that computers are unreliable without an independent audit mechanism, and without paper ballots there is nothing to audit.

The 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota demonstrated the importance of verified voting. In that race, approximately 3 million voter-marked paper ballots were counted by hand to confirm the result. Of those 3 million ballots, only 14 did not receive a 5-0 unanimous vote of the bipartisan canvassing board. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie later said that because Minnesota uses a paper ballot voting system, it made it possible to “do the recount quickly, fairly, accurately, and with such a high degree of trust.”

“The clear trend is towards paper ballots.  In fact, every jurisdiction that has chosen to change its voting system since 2006 has chosen to use paper ballots with optical scan counting.  That should be the standard,”
Holt said.

Cosponsors include: Reps. Neil Abercrombie (HI-1), Jason Altmire (PA-4), Robert Andrews (NJ-1), Tammy Baldwin (WI-2), John Barrow (GA-12), Timothy Bishop (NY-1), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Corrine Brown (FL-3), Lois Capps (CA-23), Michael Capuano (MA-8), Christopher Carney (PA-10), Kathy Castor (FL-11), William Lacy Clay (MO-1), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Joseph Crowley (NY-7), Peter DeFazio (OR-4), Michael Doyle (PA-14), Donna Edwards (MD-4), Sam Farr (CA-14), Chaka Fattah (PA-2), Bob Filner (CA-51), Barney Frank (MA-4), Al Green (TX-9), Gene Green (TX-29), Alcee Hastings (FL-23), James Himes (CT-4), Maurice Hinchey (NY-22), Michael Honda (CA-15), Jay Inslee (WA-1), Steve Israel (NY-2), Jesse Jackson Jr. (IL-2), Hank Johnson (GA-4), Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Ron Klein (FL-22), Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Rick Larsen (WA-2), John Larson (CT-1), Barbara Lee (CA-9), John Lewis (GA-5), Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2), David Loebsack (IA-2), Nita Lowey (NY-18), Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), Eric Massa (NY-29), Jim McDermott (WA-7), James McGovern (MA-3), Mike McIntyre (NC-7), Gregory Meeks (NY-6), George Miller (CA-7), James Moran (VA-8), Jerrold Nadler (NY-8), James Oberstar (MN-8), David Obey (WI-7), John Olver (MA-1), Solomon Ortiz (TX-27), Frank Pallone (NJ-6), Donald Payne (NJ-10), Thomas Perriello (VA-5), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Jared Polis (CO-2), Steven Rothman (NJ-9), Linda Sanchez (CA-39), Janice Schakowsky (IL-9), Adam Schiff (CA-29), Jose Serrano (NY-16), Joe Sestak (PA-7), Albio Sires (NJ-13), Adam Smith (WA-9), Pete Stark (CA-13), John Tierney (MA-6), Timothy Walz (MN-1), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20), Henry Waxman (CA-30), Robert Wexler (FL-19), David Wu (OR-1).

Holt’s legislation is supported by a wide range of organizations, including the American Council of the Blind, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University, Common Cause, Credo Mobile/Working Assets Democracy Unlimited, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, True Majority, Verified Voting, Voter Action, Arizona Citizens for Fair Elections, Berks County (PA) Democratic Committee, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, Clarion County League of Women Voters (PA), Coalition for Peace Action – New Jersey Concerned Voters of Centre County (PA), Connecticut Voters Count Enduring Vote Montana, Florida Voters Coalition, Gathering to Save our Democracy – Tennessee, Georgians for Verified Voting, Green Party of Pennsylvania, Iowans for Voting Integrity, New Era for Virginia, New Yorkers for Verified Voting, Pennsylvania Verified Voting, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE), SAVE Our Votes Maryland, Southern Coalition for Secure Voting State College (PA) Peace Center, The Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), VoteAllegheny (PA), VotePA, Voting Matters – Oregon.

The New York Times Endorsed Holt Bill <read>

Mr. Holt’s bill would require paper ballots to be used for every vote cast in November 2010…

The bill would also require the states to conduct random hand recounts of paper ballots in 3 percent of the precincts in federal elections, and more in very close races. These routine audits are an important check on the accuracy of the computer count.

The bill has several provisions designed to ease the transition for cash-strapped local governments…

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.

Email Letter To Your Representative

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