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Rep. Rush Holt Introduces Legislation to Require All Voting Machines To Produce A Voter-Verified Paper Trail
Bill HR 2239
US Representative Rush Holt (New Jersey, 12th Dist.) on Thursday, May 22, 2003, introduced "The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003". (This is the press release from

    Washington, DC - Rep. Rush Holt today responded to the growing chorus of concern from election reform specialists and computer security experts about the integrity of future elections by introducing reform legislation, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003. The measure would require all voting machines to produce an actual paper record by 2004 that voters can view to check the accuracy of their votes and that election officials can use to verify votes in the event of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity. Experts often refer to this paper record as a "voter-verified paper trail."
    "We cannot afford nor can we permit another major assault on the integrity of the American electoral process," said Rep. Rush Holt. "Imagine it's Election Day 2004. You enter your local polling place and go to cast your vote on a brand new "touch screen" voting machine. The screen says your vote has been counted. As you exit the voting booth, however, you begin to wonder. How do I know if the machine actually recorded my vote? The fact is, you don't."
    Last October, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), groundbreaking election reform legislation that is currently helping states throughout the country replace antiquated and unreliable punch card and butterfly ballot voting systems. HAVA, however, is having an unintended consequence. It is fueling a rush by states and localities to purchase computer-voting systems that suffer from a serious flaw; voters and election officials have no way of knowing whether the computers are counting votes properly. Hundreds of nationally renowned computer scientists, including internationally renowned expert David Dill of Stanford University, consider a voter-verified paper trail to be a critical safeguard for the accuracy, integrity and security of computer-assisted elections.
    "Voting should not be an act of blind faith. It should be an act of record," said Rep Rush Holt. "But current law does nothing to protect the integrity of our elections against computer malfunction, computer hackers, or any other potential irregularities."
    There have already been several examples of computer error in elections. In the 2002 election, brand new computer voting systems used in Florida lost over 100,000 votes due to a software error. Errors and irregularities were also reported in New Jersey, Missouri, Georgia, Texas, and at least 10 other states.
    "A recount requires that there be a reliable record to check," said Holt. "Without an actual paper record that each voter can confidentially inspect, faulty or hacked computer systems will simply spit out the same faulty or hacked result. Every vote in every election matters. We can and should do this in time for the 2004 federal election."
    Key provisions of The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003 include:
     1) Requires all voting systems to produce a voter-verified paper record for use in manual audits and recounts. For those using the increasingly popular ATM-like "DRE"(Direct Recording Electronic) machines, this requirement means the DRE would print a receipt that each voter would verify as accurate and deposit into a lockbox for later use in a recount. States would have until November 2003 to request additional funds to meet this requirement.
     2) Bans the use of undisclosed software and wireless communications devices in voting systems.
     3) Requires all voting systems to meet these requirements in time for the general election in November 2004. Jurisdictions that feel their new computer systems may not be able to meet this deadline may use an existing paper system as an interim measure (at federal expense) in the November 2004 election.
     4) Requires that electronic voting system be provided for persons with disabilities by January 1, 2006 -- one year earlier than currently required by HAVA. Like the voting machines for non-disabled voters, those used by disabled voters must also provide a mechanism for voter-verification, though not necessarily a paper trail. Jurisdictions unable to meet this requirement by the deadline must give disabled voters the option to use the interim paper system with the assistance of an aide of their choosing.
     5) Requires mandatory surprise recounts in 0.5% of domestic jurisdictions and 0.5% of overseas jurisdictions.

    Holt, a former scientist and Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, introduced the bill in response to the work of David L. Dill, Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, Rebecca Mercuri, Ph.D., Bryn Mawr, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), and others. This bill will significantly reduce the risk of vote fraud as states convert to electronic voting machines. To read more, visit

    Touch Screen Voting Machines Must Provide a Voter-Verifiable Audit Trail
     After the 2000 election and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which provides $3.9 billion to help jurisdictions upgrade election technology, 30 states have begun buying “direct recording electronic”; (DRE) voting machines. These machines allow voters to cast their ballots using a touch-screen computer interface, which supporters claim will reduce voter confusion, spoiled ballots, and vote tallying errors. However, because most of these machines lack any voter-verifiable paper audit trail, there is a great danger of vote fraud on an unprecedented level.
    Already, there are many reports of “election glitches” in 2002 elections, but nothing can be proven because of the lack of paper ballots to recount. Also, there are several reports of impropriety and conflict of interest. Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, used to run the company that built most of the voting machines used in his state and still owns a stake in the firm.
    The entire state of Georgia used DRE machines in 2002. A folder named "rob-georgia" was found on the vendor’s FTP site. A week later the state of Georgia admitted that a program "patch" was administered to over 22,000 touch-screen voting machines in Georgia. This took place shortly before the November 2002 election. Similar issues have been reported in Florida, Maryland, Texas, Alabama, Nevada, California, South Carolina, New Jersey, and Louisiana.
    Prominent national computer associations (Association for Computing Machinery, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility) have come out against the use of DRE voting machines without a voter-verifiable paper audit trail because it is so easy to program them to rig elections without being detected. Election machine vendors will not allow anyone to examine their computer code because they are “trade secrets”. They say, “You just have to trust us.”
    Election fraud is nothing new, of course. But, in the past it has always happened at the precinct level, by manipulating individual ballots and voting machines. DRE technology now makes it possible to rig elections by distributing “software upgrades” to every DRE device in a county or even an entire state. While there is no evidence that this has happened yet, the mere fact that it is technically possible, along with the intense motivation to influence certain elections, ensures that it is inevitable.
    A fair, accurate voting system is the foundation of our democracy. The use of these DRE machines is a serious threat. Action must be taken now to upgrade these machines to provide a voter-verifiable paper audit trail. Also, the federal government must issue a nation-wide ban on the sale of all DRE machines lacking a voter-verifiable paper audit trail.

Ted Sowinski March 9, 2003
References:       Fraudulent voting machine demonstration, action guide       Stanford University      Bev Harris investigates problems with electronic voting       7/23/03 Thom Hartmann on electronic voting abuses      Rebecca Mercuri’s extensive writings & references       Rebecca Mercuri’s 2001 Statement on Electronic Voting      7/23/03 John Hopkins University analysis of Diebold voting machine code      Diebold voting machines coming to Maryland       Association for Computing Machinery      10/20/02 California issues       8/13/03      Lynn Landes – Politics & Corporations, chronological references      2/20/03 Farhad Manjoo      2/3/02 California lawsuit

Please ask your congresspeople to support / cosponsor this bill. Spread the word, it’s your democracy.
Senator Fitzgerald 202:224-2854 / 312:886-3506
Senator Durbin 202:224-2152 / 312:354-4952
Representative Rush (IL 1st ) 202:225-4372 / 773:224-6500
* Representative Jackson,Jr. (IL 2nd ) 202:225-0773 / 708:798-6000    * Representative Lipinski (IL 3rd ) 202:225-5701 / 312:886-0481
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Representative Hastert (IL 14th ) 202:225-2976 / 630:416-1114            Representative Johnson (IL 15th ) 202:225-2371 / 217:403-4690
Representative Manzullo (IL 16th ) 202:225-5676 / 815:394-1231           Representative Evans (IL 17th ) 202:225-5905 / 309:762-9193
Representative LaHood (IL 18th ) 202:225-6201 / 309:671-7027          Representative Shimkus (IL 19th ) 202:225-5271 / 217:492-5090
Find your Representative at      Capitol switchboard 202:224-3121 800:839-5276
Find out what Congress is doing:                                * - Cosponsors of HR2239 4/15/04