Effort to Ban Paperless Voting Machines Advances Out of House Administration Committee

Holt Bill Would Fix Voting Machine Problems before Next Presidential Election, Prevent another Sarasota

Voting rights advocates scored a significant victory today when legislation addressing voting machine problems advanced out of the House Committee on Administration by a 6 to 3 vote.

The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (H.R. 811), would ban paperless voting machines and require all voting to either be done directly on paper, or on machines that produce voter-verifiable paper ballots and meet strict security and auditability requirements. It is sponsored by Congressman Rush Holt (D-N.J.).

People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas praised today’s development and urged the Congress to quickly consider the legislation on the House floor.

“In November, 18,000 votes went missing on voting machines in Sarasota County, Florida. If voting machine problems are a sickness, the Holt bill is good medicine. We must make every effort possible to ensure that an injustice like Sarasota never happens again,” Neas said. “This bill will end paperless voting —period. It will make paper ballots the norm, and impose strict new requirements on all voting machines to ensure they are accurate, reliable, accessible and secure. We urge the full House to pass this legislation quickly, so its reforms can be implemented in time for the 2008 presidential election.”

Republican leaders in the House Committee on Administration introduced 12 amendments, including an egregious photo identification provision that would potentially disenfranchise millions of voters. All 12 amendments failed.

“What we saw at today’s mark-up was a last-ditch effort to rehash this misguided voter fraud debate that only serves to limit access to the ballot of certain communities, and does little to nothing to secure the ballot,” Neas said.

People For the American Way is one of the nation’s leading advocates of federal election reform. The organization worked with Congressman Holt’s staff as the legislation was drafted, and public policy director Tanya Clay House testified on the legislation before the House Administration Committee.

The Holt bill already has more than 200 co-sponsors in the House, and a broad array of voting rights, civil rights and progressive organizations supporting it. In addition to People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation, Holt bill supporters include Common Cause, MoveOn, SEIU, the National Education Association, the Brennan Center, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Vote Trust USA, Verified Voting, and prominent voting technology experts Avi Rubin and Ed Felten.

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