December 11, 2007

Rush Holt to offer opt-in election reform bill for 2008

Posted in Elections, Hr 811, politics, Rush Holt, voting, voting machines tagged , , , at 6:16 am by bluebanshee

The election reform measure with broad support in the U.S. House, H.R. 811, appears to be stalled.

So Rep. Rush Holt, the lead sponsor for that bill, is planning to introduce yet another bill in the hope that states will have the ability to upgrade equipment and/or plan for election audits during the 2008 election cycle.

This attempt by Holt to get some forward movement in time for 2008 is good news for all who are worried about another presidential election riven by chaos, controversy and and a lack of confidence in election results by the American public. The news about the new Holt bill was published the National Tech Journal Daily and was reproduced with permission on the VoteTrustUSA site:
http://www.votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2682&Itemid=26

Holt’s new proposal would authorize federal reimbursement for states that decide they want to offer paper-based options to voters next fall, as well as conduct audits. His staff discussed the proposal with Democratic leaders this month, and he said in a recent telephone interview that he intends to formally introduce it soon.

According to Holt, there is still enough time for states to have new, secure systems in place before next November. He said there are plenty of examples of states that have needed less than a year to complete comprehensive upgrades.

“States can have this up and running in a matter of months,” he said.

More than 200 of Holt’s colleagues have sponsored H.R. 811. The Rules Committee considered the proposal briefly in September, but there has been no effort to bring it to the floor since then. “I think it would pass on the floor if it were given a vote,” Holt said.

Despite the relative silence on Capitol Hill during the past several months, some states have remained active on the e-voting front. The Election Assistance Commission also is making progress on the next iteration of nonbinding, nationwide guidelines for voting systems.

Florida, which suffered electoral meltdowns in 2000 and 2006, is moving forward with a plan to abandon touch-screen voting machines altogether. A U.S. House election conducted in Florida’s 13th District last year was challenged in court and before Congress by a Democratic candidate who blamed her loss on e-voting glitches.
An investigation by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, meanwhile, has grabbed nationwide headlines during the past six months for identifying major security flaws in common e-voting platforms.

Holt said he has not given up on H.R. 811, but he is worried that Congress will not move fast enough to prevent controversies in future elections that he claims may be completely avoidable. “I must say I’m a little surprised and disappointed by the shortness of our memory,” he said.

It is said that those who forget  history are doomed to repeat it  — I hope that the memories of 2000 and 2004 elections are not erased from memory — otherwise I fear we will relive the nightmares of those election in 2008.

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