Feinstein to Voters: Waste $, jeopardize Democracy.

Update: Take Action: E-Mail our Senators to oppose S. 3212 <read and send> This is especially important because Senator Dodd is on the committee and the hearing is this week!

The well intentioned but flawed 2002 Help America Vote Act launched the large scale move to electronic voting. Many states have paperless DREs (Touch Screens), some have paper trails of questionable value, and others like Connecticut have true paper ballots with inadequate chain-of-custody and inadequate post-election audits. What could possibly make things worse? The answer is the latest bill from the U.S. Senate, the folks who brought us HAVA. The bill, S. 3212, would add costs and subtract safety

As we stated when the bill was outlined by Senators Feinstein and Bennett, the primary minor benefit of the bill would be to unite voting integrity advocates in opposition. Our friends at Verified Voting have produced an analysis of the bill <read>

A number of troubling provisions require us to urge opposition to S. 3212:

1. S.3212 allows “independent” vote records that would exist only in computer memory to be used to verify electronic vote totals.

2. The non-paper verification methods allowed by S. 3212 would increase the costs and burdens of conducting elections without the benefit of increased confidence and auditability.

3. Language in the bill would exempt from any verification requirement those paperless voting systems purchased before January 1, 2009 to meet HAVA’s accessibility requirements. This would leave millions of voters (particularly those with disabilities) dependent on insecure paperless electronic machines for the foreseeable future.

4. S. 3212 is opaque and disturbingly open to interpretation on a critical question: would the bill require that it be the voter that verifies the contents of the independent record?

5. S. 3212 would not define the legal status of the independent record in the event of a discrepancy in vote tallies.

6. The bill would not require states to use the independent records in post-election audits.

7. S. 3212 would not require the EAC to adopt model audit guidelines for jurisdictions that use paper ballot optical scan technology (now the most common voting system in the United States) nor would it require optical scan paper ballots to be utilized in any audits conducted in those jurisdictions.

8. S. 3212 is unclear regarding how its requirements would apply to accessible ballot marking devices.

9. S. 3212 could restrict the publication of valuable information about the security and reliability of voting systems.

10. S. 3212 would place a representative of the voting system manufacturing industry on the committee that drafts federal voluntary voting system guidelines.

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