Time is running out for voting reform by Congress says the New York Times in an editorial. What is going on? Why are Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representatives still not moving forward on correcting these problems?
From Democracy Now 11/26/2006
“In Florida, election officials in Sarasota County have begun a review of touch-screen voting machines used in the recent election. They are testing the machines in order to determine why more than 18,000 ballots in the county registered no votes in the highly contested Congressional race between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings. The undercount was almost 15 % of ballots cast – far higher than in neighboring areas. Buchanan, with 369 votes more than Jennings, was certified the winner last week”
Time/CNN July 31, 2007
(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.)—Florida’s optical scan voting machines are still flawed, despite efforts to fix them, and they could allow poll workers to tamper with the election results, according to a government-ordered study obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press …
The lab found, for example, that someone with only brief access to a machine could replace a memory card with one preprogramed to read one candidate’s votes as counting for another, essentially switching the candidates and showing the loser winning in that precinct. “The attack can be carried out with a reasonably low probability of detection assuming that audits with paper ballots are infrequent,” the report said.
A team of hackers commissioned by California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen managed to hack into electronic voting machines made by three of the four largest suppliers in the industry, Diebold, Hart InterCivic, and Sequoia Voting Systems. After thoroughly testing each of these systems, the team — led by Matthew Bishop, a computer science professor at the University of California, Davis — found “several scenarios in which … weaknesses could be exploited to affect the correct recording, reporting, and tallying of votes.”
As noted in the New York Times editorial:
Electronic voting machines in their current form simply cannot be trusted ….The most important protection against electronic voting fraud is the voter-verified paper trail, a paper record that the voter can check to make sure that it properly reflects his or her choices. There should then be mandatory audits of a significant number of these paper records to ensure that the results tallied on the voting machines match the votes recorded on paper. Mr. Holt’s bill would require that every voting machine produce a paper record of every vote cast in a federal election, and it would mandate random audits. It would also prohibit the use of wireless and Internet technology, which are especially vulnerable to hackers.”
Unfortunately as noted in the The New York Times on July 20, 2007, the House is proposing a compromise on the original Holt Bill.
“House Democratic officials say they are now working on compromise legislation that could allow hundreds of counties in 20 states to simply add tiny, cash-register-style printers to their touch-screen machines for the 2008 and 2010 elections, while waiting for manufacturers to develop better technology by 2012….the proposed compromise is a blow to some computer scientists and other activists, who would like to get rid of the touch-screen machines used by nearly 40 percent of American voters. They had hoped that a tighter deadline would force states and localities to quickly shift from touch-screens to optical-scan systems, in which ballots are marked by the voters themselves rather than being generated by computers”
Compromise and weakening of the Holt bill is not what is needed now. Voting integrity is critical to help ensure voter confidence and trust in the accuracy and validity of our elections. It is a sad commentary on the state of American democracy that we can’t even guarantee the accuracy of our electoral process seven years after the fiasco election of 2000 that found the Republican majority of the US Supreme Court selecting George Bush as President.
Democrats in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate have no excuse. They run the show now and are bungling a critical issue of electoral integrity and voter confidence in the US election process. I urge readers to contact their US Representative and US Senators and urge they act now to reform the electoral voting process in time for the 2008 elections.Urgethem not to weaken and water down the Holt Bill.
You can send an e-mail to your Representative here:
Electronic Freedom Frontier – “Tell Congress to Support e-voting Reform!”
Moveon.org political action- “Ban Paperless Voting”
Conspicuously absent from the list of 211 sponsors of Rep. Holt’s HB 811 is Congressman Brian Baird. Washington State’s other 5 Democratic Congressmen – Dicks, Larsen, Inslee, McDermott and Smith are sponsors of the bill. Baird’s nonsponsorship of the bill put him in camp with the other non-sponsors in this state – the Republican delegation of Reichert, McMorris-Rodgers and Hastings. Voters in Baird’s District of SW Washington need to ask him to become a sponsor of the bill.