House Administration Committee Approves Holt Emergency Voting Bill
By U.S. Representative Rush Holt Press Release
April 02, 2008
Legislation Would Reimburse State and Local Jurisdictions That Opt in for Voter-Verified Paper Ballots and/or Audits
(Washington, D.C.) – The House of Representatives Committee on House Administration today approved the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008, legislation introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) to allow states to opt-in to receive reimbursements from the federal government if they convert to a paper ballot voting system, offer emergency paper ballots, and/or conduct hand-counted audits or by hand, count the results of their elections.
“I introduced this bill earlier this year to ensure that we protect the accuracy, integrity and security of the 2008 general elections,” Holt said. “I am pleased the Committee on House Administration recognized the need to act to help states prevent disputes and uncertainties involving the November election. We will achieve real progress if we can encourage more states to give every voter a verified paper ballot. And it will be a real step forward if we can encourage more states to conduct audits.”
The bill approved by the Committee would authorize funding to reimburse states with paperless jurisdictions that convert to paper-based voting systems in 2008, as well those that don’t fully convert to a paper-based system but provide emergency paper ballots that would be counted as regular ballots in the event of machine failure. The reimbursements would cover the cost of equipment conversion (from paperless touch screen machines to optical scanners and ballot marking devices or, as authorized by a Committee amendment, by attaching printers to the touch screens) and the cost of developing procedures for conducting hand-counted audits or hand counting the results of elections.
Additionally, the bill would authorize funding for states that conduct
audits that meet basic minimum requirements, including the use of a
random selection, the requirement that audits be conducted with
independence, at least a 2 percent audit sample, and public observation.
If the bill does not pass or jurisdictions do not opt in, six complete
states and some number of counties in 14 other states will be
conducting completely unauditable elections in 2008. In addition, only
about a dozen states will conduct audits.
Holt urged the House to move quickly to pass the legislation. “Time is
of the essence to pass this bill. We need to make sure states have the
opportunity to take advantage of the opt-in reimbursements. We need to
ensure that we protect our citizens’ right to vote and assure them that
their vote can be independently proven to have been counted accurately.”
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