Verified Voting Now

As many of you know, the Bob Ney-chaired House Administration Committee has bottled up Rush Holt's bipartisan verified voting proposal, H.R. 550, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act. Here's some information on the bill from Holt's website.

The bill would require all voting machines to produce an actual paper record that voters can check to ensure the accuracy of their votes, and that election officials can use to verify the accuracy of the vote count in the event of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity. It would also call for a percentage of random audits in every state, and at least one in every County, as an automatic check on the reported results.

When Rush Holt first introduced this legislation in May of 2003, a mere handful of states required a paper record for each vote. Now, half of them do, and bills to mandate that security measure are pending in more than a dozen of the remaining states. In September 2005, the Carter Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform issued a recommendation for voter verified paper records, saying:

"Congress should pass a law requiring that all voting machines be equipped with a voter-verifiable paper audit trail and, consistent with HAVA, be fully accessible to voters with disabilities."

Too often, calls for verified voting in the form of paper trails for electronic voting machines get bogged down in conspiracy theories about Ohio and Florida. While there's certainly a need for discussion of election fraud, verified voting really ought to be separated from that, as it's such a simple, sensible, non-controversial issue. Of the 159 cosponsors of the bill, the overwhelming majority are Democrats, but there are Republican supporters as well, such as Jim Ramstad of Minnesota and Tom Cole of Oklahoma, among others. Simply put, this is a no brainer and I can't imagine why anyone would want to stop it.

Today, there's a concerted effort by many in the blogosphere to break the Ney logjam on H.R. 550. DBK at Blue Jersey gives a pretty solid rundown of steps to take to show support for H.R. 550, including a link to a petition to the members of the House Administration Committee. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of petitions, but this one seems like it could do some real good.

Tags: Activism (all tags)



I can
I can't imagine why anyone would want to stop it.

Because they're corrupt and dishonest.

by LiberalFromPA 2005-11-30 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: I can
Well jeez, if you want to by cynical about it...
by Scott Shields 2005-11-30 10:03AM | 0 recs
Re: I can
You took the words right out of my mouth.
by blogus 2005-11-30 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: I can
There is at least one valid argument against it, which is that the paper receipt facilitates coersion and the selling of votes.

The point of the Australian ballot is that nobody knows how you voted, and therefore they cannot punish you for voting for the wrong guy.  If you can walk out of the polling place with an actual record of how you voted, it's not too hard to see how you could be bullied or shaken down.  In other words, if you can prove you voted one way, someone can demand that proof or pay you for it.

The other part of all this is that the fraud is most easily performed by hacking the counting software, so even if it you have prood that your vote went in the way you thought, it's impossible to know if it has been counted correctly.

by Flynnieous 2005-11-30 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Why would anyone want to stop it?
Scott Shields MUST be kidding when he states "This is a no brainer--can't imagine why anyone would want to stop it"  Oh please!

With a Republican controlled Congress who caters to corporate America, how can we expect both the House or Senate versions to ever get out of committee unless we start DEMANDING it!

Scott, you really need to get out more. More specifically, you should see the video, Invisible Ballots (, and check around at the proliferation of websites tracking this issue. Opposition comes in a variety of forms:

  •  From people who want to manipulate vote outcomes, but who of course won't say so in public;

  •  From disability groups who are misinformed about accessibility issues;

  •  From people who think about paper ballots as a quaint and old-fashioned way to vote;

  •  From people who argue that electronic machines are cheaper, and easier to maintain.

Bullet #1 is the main reason; the other bullets are talking points used mainly by people in favor of bullet #1, but who need some kind of credible arguement, even when the other bullets can be shown to be without merit, or to have workable solutions.

So, get with it, Scott!

Bob Schacht, assisted by
Ann Oshiro-Keawe
Honolulu, HI

by Bob Schacht 2005-11-30 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Why would anyone want to stop it?
I posted a link to a Congressman's petition to get H.R. 550 moving in the House. Now, why would I have done that if I didn't think there was a need to bring attention to the issue?

There was a healthy bit of sarcasm in my "no brainer" comment. Still, I'd love for any member of Congress who opposes verified voting to come out and publicly make their case without sounding like an idiot, a liar, or a combination of the two.

by Scott Shields 2005-11-30 06:33PM | 0 recs
The bullet points you mention as excuses for the real motive of #1 are easy to understand, which is why they're effective.

But just as effective is "Computerized voting can be hacked and manipulated. We can't trust it." We all have a Luddite streak. We just need to push that button in people.

Personally, I think paper ballots, as ineffecient as they are, are still the "safest" in terms of being tampered with. There are just too many points along the way where electronic voting can be tampered with.

by LiberalFromPA 2005-12-01 08:40AM | 0 recs
Thanks Scott.
this is so absolutely huge and I just get hopping mad that somehow our side has let this be made into a wedge issue.

I also am aggravated, and continue to be aggravated by the refusal to realistically deal with the problem by the dailykos leaders.

it seems like the only response you can get there is either out and out conspiracy theory that turns off anybody unfamiliar with the issue, or cries of "We just need to make sure we have a landslide so the elections can't be fixed."

Which is completely specious as non verified voting means that central tabulation records are the ones seriously at risk

I am so glad that mydd takes this seriously and is looking at pragmatic solutions.


by neutron 2005-11-30 10:46AM | 0 recs
Paper Trails Will Doom Democracy!
Yep. That's right! The advent of computer voting with paper trails will spell the absolute end of our democracy.

Were I to just leave this statement hanging like this, then this would be merely a trollish comment. But I would kindly ask one of you to ask me to explain why what I just said is so. So please ask! YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED. THIS ISSUE DEMANDS A REAL DIALOG.

by blues 2005-11-30 02:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Paper Trails Will Doom Democracy!
Okay. I'll bite. How will computer voting with paper trails doom democracy?
by Scott Shields 2005-11-30 06:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Paper Trails Will Doom Democracy!
(LineralFromPA also "bit, below.)

Sorry for the late response!!! Life gets so convoluted at moments.

The answer is ridiculously simple.

My rough, but probably pretty good estimate, is that  paper trails are being declared "unofficial ballots" in state after state. As such, they are not legally usable for recounts. In other words, state laws are declaring them "unofficial," so they basically possess no more legal standing than exit polls.

They have been legally defined as "interesting statistics which can never be used to challenge elections.

So why not just stick with exit those toothless exit polls?

by blues 2006-01-05 05:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Paper Trails Will Doom Democracy!
You lobbed a big one out there, and then didn't respond when Scott bit. Now I'm biting. What's your explanation?
by LiberalFromPA 2005-12-01 08:41AM | 0 recs


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