Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Priorities - YES on HR 811

Hello! It's good to be home, finally. At the end of one long vacation I had another trip out of town, but now I'm back, and ready to write. However, the writing I need to do is mostly offline. I recommend that any of you who don't want to have to check back to see if I wrote something simply sign up for the email notifications.

I'm very concerned for our planet on so many levels. But my IMMEDIATE concern is with our vote. There is only ONE bill in Congress standing between us and disaster. I'm just furious with well-meaning but unrealistic activists like John Gideon, Bev Harris at Black Box Voting, Mark Crispin Miller, Nancy Tobi, and other activists who don't realize that their efforts to sink this bill only help the evoting vendors. What they really want is handcounted paper ballots (HCPB), people counting our votes as in the olden days.

I want a hand count AND a computer count. Paper counts can be fudged. Votes can be "lost," added, or altered when counted solely by hand. And machines can be easily rigged. But I don't believe it's likely that people would be able to rig the hand count AND the computer count so that the counts match. That becomes astronomically more difficult.

The bill in question, HR 811, the bill Rush Holt put forward, offers a substantial hand count of 100% of the ballots (defined as the paper, not electronic, record, in the bill's explicit language) in from 3-10% of the precincts, depending on the margin of the victory. The closer the victory, the more ballots will be counted. The wider the margin, the fewer ballots to audit to verify the results. So Holt's bill offers my dream solution - a system in which machine counts and hand counts are used to count our votes.

A well-informed, very sane bunch of groups support HR 811: from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to Verified Voting (led by David Dill) to VoteTrustUSA to the National Election Archive to the Sarasota (Fla.) Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE) to People for the American Way, and many other groups are asking you to help protect our elections by registering your support RIGHT NOW for HR 811.

The bill is set to come to the floor this week, likely Thursday or Friday. PLEASE. If you understand that your vote is all that stands between a democracy and a dictatorship, and if you've seen how very close we've come to the latter under this stolen set of presidencies (2000 and 2004), then you MUST call your Congressperson this week.

It's too late to email or write a letter. You must call! Even a fax may be missed at this late date.

You can find your representative's phone numbers (local and in DC) through the www.house.gov site. PLEASE click and find the number.

Even if you called before, since the vote is coming up right now, in the next three days, PLEASE CALL AGAIN.

The sooner our vote is protected, the sooner I'll be talking about all those incredibly interesting, if all too often misrepresented, episodes from history. But nothing is more interesting to me right now on the planet than ensuring the survival of our democracy. And we can't do that without some much needed federal protection requiring not only paper records, but a mandatory audit of those records. Frankly, we can't do it at all, if HR 811 doesn't pass. PLEASE GET BUSY.

Thank you so very much!!

UPDATE: Here's a summary of the bill, from Rep. Holt's office:

Fundamental Provisions of H.R. 811
The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007

  • A voter-verified paper ballot must be produced for every vote cast beginning with the November 2008 elections.

  • Paper-based voting systems (including thermal reel-to-reel systems and systems accessible to voters with disabilities that also used or produced a paper ballot) used in 2006 can be used until 2012; only systems that used no paper ballots at all must be replaced or upgraded by November 2008. Durable, scannable, accessible paper ballots must be used by 2012.

  • Upgrade requirements mean that, by 2012:

    • where ballot marking devices are used, they must be able to deposit the ballots “automatically” into a “secure container” for mobility access, and

    • where direct recording electronic machines (DREs) are used, a mechanism must be provided that allows disabled voters to privately and independently verify the contents of the paper ballot printed by the DRE printer.

  • The paper ballot is the vote of record in all recounts and audits, as a check on electronic tallies.

  • In 2008, all voters are entitled to vote by paper ballot if the voting machine in their jurisdiction is broken, and in 2010 and after, for any reason.

  • Routine random audits must be conducted by hand count in 3% of the precincts in all Federal elections, and 5% or 10% in very close races (but races decided by 80% or more need not be audited).

  • Wireless devices, Internet connections, uncertified software and undisclosed software are banned in voting and tabulating machines.

  • $1 billion in funding is authorized for system replacement and upgrading in FY 2008, with additional upgrades authorized in FY 2009.

  • $100 million each fiscal year is authorized to fund the audits.
  • An arms-length relationship is established between test labs and voting machine vendors.

  • The bill is silent on re-authorizing the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and does not address military and overseas balloting.


Blogger Real History Lisa said...


The National Election Data Archive, Verified Voting, VoteTrustUSA, Vote PA, Vote Allegheny (PA), The Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Brennan Center, People for the American Way, North Carolina Coalition
for Verified Voting, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE), SAVE Our Votes (MD), Common Cause, Move On, Concerned Voters of Centre County (PA), Election Reform Network (PA), Save Our Votes (MD), Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, Iowans for Voting Integrity, AUDITAZ, Voting Matters/Oregon., Georgians For Verified Voting, and Southern Coalition for Secured Voting.

2:13 PM  

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