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GOP v. Registration Nation
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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Nelson and Co-Sponsor Whitehouse Rewrite Originally Introduced Bill to Do Away with Discredited Systems by 2012 and 'Any Subsequent Year'
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2007 11:07pm PT  

-- By Brad Friedman

After months of being told over and over by Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) office, People for the American Way (PFAW), and many of the other most ardent supporters of Holt's flawed Election Reform Bill (HR811) that "there is no support in Congress for a ban on DREs," it looks like they must have been wrong. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and co-sponsor Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) filed such a bill today.

Here's the complete bill [PDF] which we've yet to read in full. But note this item from page 41, Line 7:

RESTRICTION ON USE OF DIRECT RECORDING ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEMS -
A direct recording electronic voting system may not be used to administer any election for Federal office held in 2012 or any subsequent year.

A ban on such machines, finally? Yes! By 2012? Unfortunately, yes. But let's overlook that last point for a moment.

In a statement issued by Nelson today, pointing out that DRE (often referred to as "touch-screen") voting systems are "unreliable and vulnerable to error," the senator says, "The bottom line is we have to ensure every vote is counted – and, counted properly...Citizens must have confidence in the integrity of their elections.”

The new language banning DREs was added today to a previous version of the same bill which Nelson had introduced originally in early Summer. This version "would be the first [bill] to seek a ban on electronic touch-screen voting machines in federal elections nationwide," according to his statement, which adds that the language was updated after a recent meeting with Florida's Republican Secretary of State Kurt Browning, once an ardent support of DRE voting systems.

When Nelson's original version of the legislation was introduced some months ago, it was largely a "clone version" of Holt's original HR811 introduced in the House, but with a number of extra provisions addressing concerns of voter intimidation and suppression.

Little attention had been given to Nelson's bill at the time, since the Rules Committee was regarded as having jurisdiction for any Election Reform bills in the Senate, and the committee chair, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), had made clear she intended to introduce her own version of Election Reform as the Senate counterpart to Holt's. She eventually introduced S. 1487, which has been subsequently criticized by Election Integrity advocates as being even more flawed then Holt's much-criticized bill.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: We were invited to work on the Holt bill prior to its introduction, and succeeded in adding several much-improved provisions. Yet the bill, as currently written --- and far more so since being drastically watered down throughout the committee process --- has failed to garner our support.)

DREs: "Not a Reasonable Voting System"

Neither Feinstein's nor Holt's bill had called for a ban on DRE voting systems, however, despite an outcry among Election Integrity advocates and a host of computer scientists and security experts who argued that DREs were vulnerable to hacking, non-transparent, prone to error, antithetical to democracy, and thus simply could not be used safely in elections. With or without a so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT) printer attached.

Johns Hopkins computer professor Avi Rubin testified earlier this year that "after four years of studying the issue, I now believe that a DRE with a VVPAT is not a reasonable voting system."

Stanford professor and VerifiedVoting.org founder David Dill, arguing in favor of the Holt bill, admitted, "I would personally prefer to see optical scan machines used nationwide."

And former legislative director of VoteTrustUSA.org Warren Stewart, now also of VerifiedVoting, had told a Senate panel earlier this year that while there were disagreements among some in the EI movement, most had agreed that touch-screen systems must not not be used. "While this broad based movement embraces a wide range of proposals and positions," he testified, "it is unified in the conclusion that the direct electronic recording of votes to computer memory is inimical to democracy."

And yet, all three of the above advocates, along with many others, continued to argue --- while failing to offer any actual evidence for the claim --- that there was simply no support for the idea of a DRE ban in either house of the U.S. Congress.

All the while, The BRAD BLOG had maintained that they, and the other Holt supporters, had fallen victim to a hoax by People for the American Way (PFAW). The popular public advocacy group had long pushed the unsupported notion that there was no congressional support for such a ban, in order to see the bill passed specifically without such a ban. It was one of several false notions being forwarded by the group in favor of the bill, as we argued both here and at Alernet early in the year.

A careful examination of PFAW's on-the-record statements, and numerous on and off-the-record conversations with their Executive Director and legislative leaders by The BRAD BLOG over many months, revealed that PFAW (almost inexplicably) has actually been advocating in favor of the use of dangerous DRE voting systems in American elections. It's fair to say that Holt's bill had thus been held hostage to ensure that such systems would not be banned.

But then came the fallout from the failed 13th Congressional District election last November in Nelson's home state, followed by California Sec. of State Debra Bowen's landmark scientific findings, Rep. Susan Davis's (D-CA) amendment this past summer, and a killer editorial from the New York Times as the tide began to slowly turn...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Folks Still Need to Contact Rules Committee, Scheduled to Reconvene Friday Morning at 10:30am ET, Though That Could be Changing
Reps. Hinchey and Lee Now Joined as Co-Sponsors of Davis's Amendment...
By Brad Friedman on 9/7/2007 12:07am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Richfield, UT (Bruce Funk Country!)...

[UPDATE: As we reported from our source late last night in the article below, the Rules Committee hearing today was indeed canceled. See below for more details.]

Have been on the road all day, so playing late-night catch up. So here's a few tid-bits, items, rumors, and innuendos as we've been able to collect them from various sources concerning the latest on the fate of the Holt Election Reform Bill (HR 811) in the U.S. House and the proposed Susan Davis (D-CA) amendment for it.

To briefly recap, Davis's amendment, if allowed by the House Rules Committee to be considered with the bill, would limit use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines to one per polling place on Election Day, but allow their full use during Early Voting periods. Unlike CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen's similar restriction, her amendment, as currently drafted, would not require a 100% manual count of the touch-screen "paper trails." Many more details on that amendment reported here yesterday, followed by a full statement we received from Davis herself later in the evening, in which she described the matter of whether to use DREs or not as the "800 pound gorilla" that folks in Congress, up until now, have been largely afraid of debating at all.

But that seems to be changing quickly.

The New York Times last night gave the idea of a full ban on DREs a boost when they called for exactly that in a long-overdue editorial in this morning's paper calling E-voting an "abysmal failure." They said, "It is unfortunate that the [Holt] bill does not contain a provision banning the use of touch-screen voting machines," adding, "There is still time before the bill becomes law to add a ban on touch-screen voting." And, "If the House fails to do so, the Senate should," and that putting it off to 2012 --- as Davis's amendment as currently drafted does --- is "too long to wait." Huzzah.

Now to the latest updates at this hour...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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The California Congresswoman Hopes Her Attempt to Amend the Rush Holt Election Reform Bill 'Sparks Debate' on the Issue of Banning Touch-Screen Voting Systems
Says 'Wealth of Data So Strong, Congress Would be Remiss If We Do Not Allow a Debate'...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2007 10:48pm PT  

"As we have looked closely at all the issues concerning Election Day voting systems, we are still ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room," declared California Congresswoman Susan Davis in a statement sent to The BRAD BLOG late this afternoon.

That 800 pound gorilla, Davis goes on to say, is "the question of whether and how Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Machines should be used in federal elections."

Her statement (posted in full at the end of this article) followed on the heels of our exclusive BRAD BLOG report earlier today detailing Davis's attempt to restrict the use of DREs (often referred to as touch-screen voting machines) to no more than one per polling place on Election Day in federal elections.

Davis's proposed amendment is stalled for the moment as the U.S. House Rules Committee debates whether Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) flawed and controversial Election Reform Bill (HR 811) will be sent to the floor of the House at all and, if so, whether or not amendments will be allowed with it. (See this morning's report for more specifics and details.)

The amendment is similar to, though weaker than, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's recently imposed restrictions on DRE voting systems in the Golden State, which also require a manual hand-count of 100% of the so-called "paper trails" produced by the touch-screen machines.

"There is one controversial issue that seems to come up again and again in my discussions with voters, activists, and elections officials. It is an issue that has been dealt with in many states including my home state of California just recently with the Secretary of State’s Top-to-Bottom review," Davis said, adding that "the wealth of data and opinions on this topic are so strong that I feel Congress would be remiss if we do not allow a debate on" the use of DREs in federal elections.

As a member of the House Administration Committee, which passed the bill some months ago along party lines, Davis could have brought such an amendment then. Indeed, we personally met with Davis earlier this year in her home district in San Diego --- the site of more than a few controversial touch-screen elections --- in hopes of conveying the dangers of such voting systems. While clearly concerned about the issue at the time, Davis was not yet prepared to call for either a ban or any sort of restriction on the machines that failed at hundreds, if not thousands, of precincts across the country during the 2006 election cycle.

But that was before Bowen's landmark analysis, as carried out by computer scientists at the University of California, added fuel to the anti-DRE fire, finding severe and alarming vulnerabilities in every e-voting system they tested.

With the Bowen wind at the backs of California's sizable and powerful Congressional contingent, things may well be changing, if Davis's "attempt [to] spark debate on this issue" is any indication.

In concluding her statement, Davis expressed her hope that Congress might finally address the now-unavoidable question of DRE usage in the wake of what has become a virtual mountain of evidence against them.

"Our democracy is too important to ignore this issue any longer," the Congresswoman concluded.

Rep. Susan Davis's complete statement is posted in full below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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The BRAD BLOG Has Confirmed That Congresswoman Susan Davis Will Introduce Such an Amendment This Afternoon --- If Allowed --- as Rush Holt's Controversial HR 811 Goes to Rules Committee Before Introduction on House Floor
UPDATED SEVERAL TIMES: Amendment Now Endorsed by MoveOn, Verified Voting, VoteTrustUSA; Source Says Holt on Defensive in Committee Hearing...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2007 9:49am PT  

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.

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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