ComputerWorld Interview With Rep. Rush Holt

Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) is a physicist who has been working for some four years to provide integrity and confidence in voting. While waiting for a longer term solution, he has introduced an emergency bill, H.R. 5056 to encourage states to move to paper ballots and sound audits in time for the 2008 presidential election. We strongly support the bill. Rep. Holt is interviewed by ComputerWorld: Q&A: For e-voting, Holt looks to undo HAVA’s havoc <read>

Scientists and engineers would look all look at these systems and say, “You need a paper receipt that verifies the vote.” A politician on the other hand is slow to recognize that software can’t verify itself. The politician in me saw that [the lack of ability to verify votes] was a critical flaw in our voting systems, which could undermine confidence in the entire voting process…

If there is a voter-verified paper ballot, that ballot belongs to the election system. The voter doesn’t carry it away. It’s kept under lock and key the same way that all election records are kept. It’s subject to inspection only with a bipartisan, duly formed group of witnesses…

In presidential and senate races, if there is any county of the state in doubt, then the whole state and even the whole election is in doubt. We haven’t even finished setting a national standard that would apply to all votes cast in federal elections. Right now, all we can do is encourage as many counties as possible to do the right thing, give them some incentive, and provide reimbursement for their cost of using verified paper records and audits…

The legislation that I would like to see would have chain-of-custody requirements and transparency of software so that the software would be available for independent people to check. But the best single thing we could do is to have an independent audit of randomly chosen precincts in each federal election. An audit will be the most direct, simplest way of uncovering problems even if there is a software error, be it innocent or malicious.

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