A hand-marked paper ballot is essential for every vote cast. That means, among other things, that Direct Recording Electronic voting systems (DREs), which do not have paper ballots, have no place in our democracy. The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 2894), introduced last year by Rush Holt, would replace DRE systems by 2014 and is supported by many organizations, including some endorsers of this campaign. Other endorsers of this campaign do not support HR 2894 as written but would consider doing so with the following amendments:
- Assistive paper-ballot marking devices for optional use by the disabled or other voters who wish to use them ONLY IF the voter declines the use of a hand-marked paper ballot first before voting.
- Replace all DRE systems in time for the 2012 general election.
- A ban on the use of proprietary trade-secret software in voting and tabulating machines, and full allowance of open public inspection of all hardware and software used in public elections.
- A ban on infrared and LAN connections to any aspect of electronic voting or tabulation systems, in addition to the legislation’s current ban on systems connected to the Internet in any way.
- Grant money for federally funded hand-count pilot programs in an equal or greater amount to the funds allocated for research and development grants for new voting software, devices or schemes.
- The GSA, GAO or other permanent federal agency to handle grants and payments to jurisdictions rather than the EAC, because the EAC, a failed federal body, will use its granting authority to continue to exist.
- A basic level of randomized, manual, post-election audit/spot-checks for all election results not hand-counted at the polling place on election night, with a clear system of determining when to trigger larger audits. As currently written, the legislation offers a road map to those who may wish to rig elections, with regard to what margin of “victory” must be attained to avoid a larger randomized, hand-audit/spot-check. It also relies on the very machines to be audited to report the margin in the first place. This is a recipe for trouble, and needs to be amended.