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Holt Blasts Republicans for Blocking Emergency Voting Bill PDF  | Print |  Email
By Rep. Rush Holt Press Release   
April 15, 2008
Legislation Would Encourage States to Conduct Verifiable Elections

Rep. Rush Holt (pictured at right) today strongly criticized House members for blocking legislation – the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008 (H.R. 5036) – that would encourage states to conduct verifiable elections by converting to a paper ballot voting system, offering emergency paper ballots, and conducting hand-counted audits. Two weeks ago, the same legislation passed the House Administration Committee with bipartisan, unanimous support, including from some of those who voted to block the bill’s passage today.

“This bill would represent a real step forward in our effort to protect the accuracy, integrity and security of the November elections,” Holt said. “The bill that the House leadership scheduled for a vote today is the same one that passed two weeks ago without the objection of a single Committee member. There is no reason why this should be a partisan issue but the Republicans evidently have chosen to make it so. The White House issued a statement opposing the bill and 176 of 203 Republicans voted that way”

H.R. 5036, as reported to the floor by the committee, would authorize funding to reimburse states with paperless jurisdictions that convert to paper-based voting systems in 2008 or 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 paper-based systems, such as optical scanners or computers with printers) and the cost of developing procedures for conducting hand-counted audits using independent, random selection of at least 2 percent of the precincts for audits under 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.

“What everyone should want is a national standard that would help ensure verifiable elections,” Holt added. “We made this an even more modest bill to gain bipartisan support and pass quickly. It merely offers reimbursement to states that chose the option of auditable and audited elections; there is no mandate. Republicans are evidently unwilling to accept even this modest attempt to bring about verifiable elections.”

Holt noted that the main objection to the bill was, according to Republicans, its cost.

“I’d like to ask the opponents how much spending is too much to have verifiable elections in the United States. I note that many people who opposed this legislation supported spending almost $330 million in recent years to provide election assistance in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. I would have hoped those who supported efforts to export democracy abroad would be equally committed to strengthening democracy here at home,” Holt said.
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