By Brad Friedman from Glenwood Springs, CO...
[ED NOTE: Many updates have been posted throughout the day on this item. Please see bottom of article for the latest updates!]
An amendment to either ban or restrict the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems may be added to Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) Election Reform Bill by California Congresswoman Susan Davis today, The BRAD BLOG can now confirm.
After learning of the possibility early this morning, we have now confirmed with Davis's office that she is mulling such an amendment to present to the House Rules Committee, which is set to meet this afternoon at 3pm ET to determine which amendments will be allowed for debate on Holt's controversial HR 811 election bill. The legislation is currently scheduled to come up for debate on the House Floor as soon as it's passed out of the Rules Committee.
UPDATE: Davis's office has now confirmed they will bring such an amendment if allowed by the Rules Committee and by Leadership.
The committee will decide whether or not to allow amendments to the bill at all once it's on the House floor. The BRAD BLOG has learned that the committee essentially has three options in that regard. They can move the bill forward with a "Closed Rule," meaning no amendments are allowed on the bill; a "Restricted Rule," meaning only certain amendments will be allowed for debate, or an "Open Rule," which would allow any amendment to be brought to the bill while it's on the House floor.
The phone and fax numbers for members of the Rules Committee are posted below, along with the contact information for House Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, who would be instrumental in allowing such an amendment to be brought.
At this hour, Davis's office is considering language for such an amendment, conferring with legal authorities and gauging potential support from colleagues. They may be considering restrictions on DRE usage, rather than a complete ban, along the lines of what California's Secretary of State Debra Bowen implemented recently after her independent "Top-to-Bottom Review" found severe vulnerabilities in all of the states certified touch-screen voting systems.
After the landmark study, carried out by the University of California, Bowen implemented restrictions on DRE systems made by Diebold, Sequoia Voting Systems, and other major manufacturers. Only one DRE per polling place will be allowed in California's 2008 elections in order to marginally meet federal accessibility requirements for disabled voters. Bowen's restrictions also allow for DRE use in Early Voting, though all such systems must have 100% of their "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPATs) manually counted.