Here's the Bill Calling for Emergency Paper Ballots at Every Polling Place in America this November!
[UPDATED WITH NEW SENATE LEGISLATION NOW FILED!]
By Brad Friedman on 9/20/2006, 12:44pm PT  

Yesterday I called on Congress to pass an emergency measure to require Emergency Paper Ballots be made available at the polls during this November's general election. I spelled out several reasons for this last-ditch, "Hail Mary" attempt to try and mitigate just some of the myriad problems and disenfranchisment that will occur at polling places this year thanks to new, poorly designed, malfunctioning, unsecure electronic voting machines now deployed across the nation.

Never mind the electronic voting machine fraud that is likely to occur. Never mind the proven inaccuracies of these god-awful machines. Never mind the ease at which they are now proven to be hackable. My concern right now --- this late in the game --- is simply to assure that voters who show up at the polls and are legally registered to vote, may actually be able to cast a vote at all!

In primary after primary this year, voters have been told to "come back later" or, at best, given a provisional ballot (which may or may not ever be counted) when voting machines either failed to work or, frequently, weren't even present by the time voters showed up to vote. That is voter disenfranchisement, pure and simple, and it affects voters of any and all political stripes.

Common sense (one would think) would dictate that State and County Election Directors would mandate Emergency Paper Ballots for voters to use in the event of machine unavailability. Though the Secretaries of State in several states so far this year (Texas, Arkansas, etc.) have issued emergency orders for such Emergency Paper Ballots, remarkably, many states and counties didn't bother and thousands of legally registered voting citizens were sent home in the bargain.

The legislation required by Congress to mandate Emergency Paper Ballots (I call it the "LET AMERICA VOTE ACT") is incredibly simple. In yesterday's article, I included a three-sentence piece of legislation. Below, is a more fully-formed draft legislation based on those three sentences as sent to me orginally by Bob Wilson of the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project.

Along with additional tweaks by myself and a few others, my complete suggested legislation can be read --- in it's entirety --- in about 30 seconds. It's posted in full below.

If Congress cares (and if you help them to do so!), I'm quite certain that this measure can be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by George W. Bush with Terri Schiavo-like speed.

I'd think our democracy is worth at least as much. And I know it's certainly worth trying for!

Some have responded to my call for this LAVA legislation ("Let democracy flow!") by pointing out that the method of counting and/or auditing these Emergency Paper Ballots must be included in the legislation. My answer to them is that I agree with their point! However, at this late in the game (with only some 5 or 6 legislative days left before Congress recesses prior to the election) I don't want to give any Congress member any reason to oppose this act!

In other words, with the time we have left, if all we can do is assure that at least there will be a piece of paper on which a registered voter may cast a vote this November --- if they bother to show up --- then we will be doing a service to democracy. It's an incredible fact, but even something as simple has that has not been the case in many places this year. Last week's Maryland primary, were thousands were forced to go without voting at all when the machines failed to work, was a prime example!

Some have said there is no time to get this bill passed. I don't care. Let's get it passed anyway. If it fails, at least we will have a "paper trail" to point back to on November 8th when everyone else is wondering what went wrong and if anybody had tried to do anything about it while there was still time. Those of us who give a damn will have done everything we could.

I continue to speak to folks in Congress about sponsorship of this bill, and I urge all American citizens to contact their Congress Members --- as well as their state and local officials --- to demand that non-provisional Emergency Paper Ballots be made available at the polls this year!

You can contact your Congress person here (and you can contact local media here.)

(The URL for this article is: http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3502. Feel free to point them to it!)

Let's get to work! This effort is about all we have left legislatively at this point! Please spread the word everywhere. My complete suggested language for the LET AMERICA VOTE ACT is posted below...

LET AMERICA VOTE ACT
(EMERGENCY PAPER BALLOT MANDATE OF 2006)

WHEREAS significant failures of electronic voting machines have occurred in various jurisdictions during primary elections held in Illinois, Texas, Georgia, Maryland and other states during 2006, and

WHEREAS such failures have forced legitimate, registered voters to have been turned away from the polls by the thousands so far in 2006 primary elections simply because neither voting machines nor paper ballots were available for use when the voters arrived at their polling place, and

WHEREAS the probability exists that such failures will continue and the adverse results of such failures will be multiplied and increased in magnitude by the additional number of voters participating in the November 7, 2006 General Election, and

WHEREAS the potential exists for massive disenfranchisement of American voters in the November 7, 2006 General Election, by such failures of electronic voting machines,

NOW THEREFORE be it enacted that:

A. For the November 7, 2006, General Election, each election jurisdiction shall be required to prepare and print Emergency Paper Ballots of the proper ballot style for all races and propositions which shall be contested in that jurisdiction.

B. Such Emergency Paper Ballots shall be printed in sufficient quantity to guarantee that every voter who may require one, either as requested or as a result of voting machine unavailability, shall be able to receive such an Emergency Paper Ballot.

C. As with all provisional ballots, such Emergency Paper Ballots shall be printed in all languages specified for ballots in that jurisdiction.

D. Any voter eligible to vote in the jurisdiction in which he or she requests an Emergency Paper Ballot shall be entitled to receive and cast such Emergency Paper Ballot, regardless of the type of ballot that shall have been specifiied in that jurisdiction through operation of law, without further qualification, request, proof or furnishing of reason for such request.

E. Such Emergency Paper Ballots shall be official ballots for purposes of casting, tabulating, audits, redundant counts and recounts, and shall not be considered provisional ballots.

F. Emergency Paper Ballots shall be cast and tabulated in the same manner as all other ballots cast on November 7, 2006.

G. The associated costs to states for this mandate will be reimbursed out of Help America Vote Act funding.

H. This Act shall terminate and cease to have effect on February 28, 2007.

UPDATE 9/26/06: Boxer & Dodd introduce Emergency Paper Ballot Legislation in the Senate! House version to come soon! Details here...