Thursday 6 September 2007

New York Times Editorial on Voting Machines

An editorial in today's New York Times backs H.R. 811


Congressman Rush Holt's Office has issued the followed

Fundamental Provisions of H.R. 811

The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007

· A voter-verified paper ballot must be produced for every vote cast beginning with the November 2008 elections.
· Paper-based voting systems (including thermal reel-to-reel systems and systems accessible to voters with disabilities that also used or produced a paper ballot) used in 2006 can be used until 2012; only systems that used no paper ballots at all must be replaced or upgraded by November 2008. Durable, scannable, accessible paper ballots must be used by 2012.
· Upgrade requirements mean that, by 2012:
o where ballot marking devices are used, they must be able to deposit the ballots “automatically” into a “secure container” for mobility access, and
o where direct recording electronic machines (DREs) are used, a mechanism must be provided that allows disabled voters to privately and independently verify the contents of the paper ballot printed by the DRE printer.
· The paper ballot is the vote of record in all recounts and audits, as a check on electronic tallies.
· In 2008, all voters are entitled to vote by paper ballot if the voting machine in their jurisdiction is broken, and in 2010 and after, for any reason.
· Routine random audits must be conducted by hand count in 3% of the precincts in all Federal elections, and 5% or 10% in very close races (but races decided by 80% or more need not be audited).
· Wireless devices, Internet connections, uncertified software and undisclosed software are banned in voting and tabulating machines.
· $1 billion in funding is authorized for system replacement and upgrading in FY 2008, with additional upgrades authorized in FY 2009.
· $100 million each fiscal year is authorized to fund the audits.
· An arms-length relationship is established between test labs and voting machine vendors.The bill is silent on re-authorizing the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and does not address military and overseas balloting.