Sunday, November 19, 2006

Introduced by Dennis Kucinich, House Resolution 6200

Bill is proposed to amend HAVA

Kucinich bill

The wording of the Kucinich legislation is clear - what is desired is the paper ballot as the official ballot to be hand counted at the precinct level (or equivalent location).

The bill may or may not comport with HAVA's requirements for second chance voting (prevention of overvotes).

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights discusses why the need for DRE to replace the older systems in great depth. (they do continue the discussion with partnership in a report dated December 7, 2004)

Statement of Principles on Electronic Voting
February 17, 2004


The Importance of Electronic Voting

In 2000, as many as 2 million voters left the polling place believing that their votes would be counted, but because of obsolete and inaccurate voting systems, they were not. And in California's recent recall election, punch card systems failed to record a valid vote, on the question of whether to recall the governor, on 6.3 percent of all ballots cast. For optical scan systems, this rate was 2.7 percent. Yet on DREs, the rate was only 1.5 percent. The differences in the rates of error are dramatic, and simply cannot be explained on any ground other than the voting equipment used. Regrettably, more than 70 percent of Americans will cast their votes in the 2004 election on the same kinds of voting systems that have produced higher rates of error.

It is essential to modernize voting systems so that every vote can be counted and so that Americans can have confidence in the outcomes of elections. Of the voting systems available today, DREs have the lowest rates of error, thereby assuring that voters can leave the polling place with confidence that their votes will be counted. In addition, DREs are the only voting equipment that is fully accessible, allowing all voters, including persons with disabilities, to cast secret and independent ballots. DREs can also handle multiple languages, making it easier for election officials to accommodate individuals with limited English proficiency. In addition, the millions of Americans who face literacy challenges are able to take advantage of the audio features of DREs to cast independent votes without embarrassment.

Guiding Principles for Reforming the Nation's Voting Systems

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights believes that three principles must guide the decisions made in reforming the nation's voting systems, whether through the purchase or lease of new voting machines, the operation of new or existing voting systems, or the design of future machines. Voting machines and systems must provide for:

1) Non-Discrimination;
2) "Second-Chance Voting" and Voter Verification; and
3) Compliance with National Certification Standards


The linchpin of any civil rights protection is that voting machines must not result in any discrimination. Older voting machines have repeatedly been shown to have varying rates of error depending on the characteristics of voters, including socioeconomic status and education level. Persons with disabilities have historically been forced to vote separately, but never equally, with voting systems that don't allow them to cast a secret ballot or to vote independently. Persons with limited English proficiency have also been prevented from having equal access to voting by machines and balloting systems that don't recognize their needs.

Only electronic voting systems are able to provide full equality to people with disabilities or limited English proficiency. In addition, DREs have lower error rates for historically disenfranchised populations, as described above.

"Second-Chance Voting" and Voter Verification

"Second-chance voting" is one of the key reforms that were pushed by the civil rights community for inclusion in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). As a result, HAVA requires for the first time that a voter must be able to review his or her ballot before it is officially cast and counted, and must be given the opportunity to change the ballot or receive a new one. This is the requirement for voter verification.

DREs meet the voter verification provision by requiring the voter to review the ballot prior to officially casting his or her vote via a final review screen. DREs also easily allow the voter to make changes to the ballot before it is cast, and this is done within the secrecy of the voting booth. Optical-scan and other paper-based systems require the issuance of new ballots if the voter wishes to make a change, and often the review process is not carried out privately, undermining the secrecy of the ballot.

Suggestions have been made to add a paper-based voter verification system to DRE machines. This is known as the "voter verified paper trail" or VVPT. These systems are not certified (see below), and raise concerns given the history of lost, mangled, and manipulated paper ballots, as well as the difficulty of recounting paper ballots accurately. New systems of electronic voter verification are under development, and these would have the additional advantage of preserving full and equal access for people with disabilities or other historically underrepresented voters.

In whatever ways "second chance voting" or voter verification is carried out, LCCR believes that two points are absolutely essential.

First, any system used must be uniform and nondiscriminatory, accommodating citizens who require alternative languages and ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities to an independent and secret ballot.

Second, the use of the system must not create additional undue burdens and complications for voters, or for pollworkers and election administrators, who already conduct elections with insufficient resources and an overwhelming number of duties that must be performed...

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