Senators Feinstein and Bennett Plan To Unite Voting Integrity Advocates

Another effort in a long history of knee-jerk reactions to address public concern with voting by throwing expensive, inadequate, unproven, and unnecessary technology at the problem. The better solution is a stronger “Holt” bill banning DRE’s, mandating paper ballots, and strong, effective audits.

Senators Feinstein and Bennett issued a press release purporting to enhance voting integrity by a bill to be offered (text not yet available) <read>. Unfortunately, this bill as described in their press releases is wholly flawed.

For the last couple of years voting advocates have been split on bills by Representative Rush Holt proposing federally mandated paper ballots followed by audits. While supported by many advocates as useful improvements, others have opposed these bills for not going far enough.

We confidently predict that the new Feinstein/Bennett bill will unite all voting integrity advocates against their flawed assumptions and inadequacy.

Under the Act, voters casting their ballots using direct recording electronic [DRE] (touch screen) voting systems would be able to simultaneously verify their choices by means of an independent paper, electronic, audio, video, or pictorial record. Such records would be auditable and would also be available for review in the event of a recount

Yes it might be possible for a video or audio play back of a ballot to a voter, but not one that can be verified later or the voter can be sure equals what the machine counted – verification would require not only a record that is verified by the voter at the time of casting their vote, but also preservation of the exact same record that can later be guaranteed to be exactly what the voter saw or heard. We are not aware of any science supporting such a possibility and no certified voting machine supporting such. (There is one hope that the bill is written such that only paper would do unless suitable technology is developed)

Also while we supported the “Holt” bills we would have liked them to ban DRE machines, while the thrust of this Senate bill would be to further their legitimacy.

The effective date for implementing this requirement would be January 1, 2012, unless a state requested a waiver until January 1, 2014.

Another criticism of the “Holt” bill was that it was too late for 2008, especially after action on the bills was delayed for years. The Feinstein/Bennett solution would apparently delay even this small measure of integrity for Presidential elections until at least 2016 as states can request a waiver!

The bill also includes a research grant program to help spur development and testing of new independent verification technologies.

$$$ toward technology that is likely impossible at any cost. And they claimed the “Holt” bill was too expensive.

the bill would instruct each state to conduct public audits to ensure the accuracy of election results. The bill would direct the Election Assistance Commission to develop model audit guidelines.

Once again, we would prefer the “Holt” type bill with minimum audit requirements in the law.

Can we at least hope the proposed bill and final bill when they are released are much better than the press release indicates? Yet, experience tells us it only gets worse from here when we see the proposed

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