Campaign to End Use of Electronic DRE Voting Systems Launched by Several Organizations Previously Supportive of Rep. Rush Holt's HR550 Election Reform Bill
Citizens Asked to Join Effort and Send Letter to Their Own Congress Members...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2006, 2:41pm PT  

Please click here to tell your Congress Members you agree!

More than 35 non-partisan Election Integrity organizations, many of them previously supporters of Rep. Rush Holt's HR550 Election Reform legislation, are launching a campaign today designed to send a clear message to Congress that American Democracy needs nothing less than a paper ballot --- not a "trail" or a "record" --- for every vote cast.

A press release from the groups is now posted here.

VelvetRevolution.us, of which The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder, has worked with a number of other leading national non-partisan Election Integrity organizations --- including VoterAction.org, VotersUnite.org, the National Voting Rights Institute, TrueMajorityAction.org, the Dolores Huerta Foundation --- and many state and local groups to release the following Open Letter this morning...

This is a crucial moment as Congress finally begins to introduce Election Reform legislation that --- we hope --- may go a long way towards correcting so many of the ills plaguing our democracy since the introduction of the horribly flawed Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

The BRAD BLOG has reported on, and spoken many times about, the need for a paper ballot for every vote cast. While it won't cure every ill facing our democracy today, it is arguably the most important element needed to ensure eventual reform. The reasons for that need, and the necessity of doing away with all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems in the bargain, are plainly summarized in the letter below.

We've also discussed the need here for citizens to rise up and help take their democracy back. Now is the moment for us to make that happen. We ask that all citizens join us by Emailing the following letter to their Congress Members. We've made it simple for you, and ask that you take the matter into your own hands by circulating this address far and wide to help spread the message:

http://www.VelvetRevolut...s/Campaigns/PaperBallots

The time is now...The letter is below...

December 14, 2006

Open Letter to all Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives:

We, the undersigned non-partisan election integrity organizations, strongly urge you, as a first order of business in the 110th Congress, to enact new federal legislation to protect the integrity of our elections. While there are many areas of concern for any such legislation, none is more essential to the accuracy of our elections and the confidence among our electorate than for there to be a paper ballot for every vote cast. Not a paper "trail" or a paper "record," but a paper ballot.

In light of lessons learned during the 2006 primary and general elections --- with myriad contests resulting in uncertainty and thousands of voters in state after state turned away from the polls unable to cast a vote on DRE systems which failed throughout the day --- we now hold that a paper ballot, whether counted by optical-scan system or hand, is the minimum requirement for any Election Reform legislation in which voters may have confidence. Such a requirement is needed to help ensure Americans that every legally registered voter can vote, that every vote is recorded precisely as the voter intends, and that every vote is counted and, if necessary, re-counted accurately.

This year's elections have made crystal clear that electronic voting machines --- both those without paper ballots, such as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen systems, and even those with so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" --- caused massive disruptions, undermined the results of crucial elections, and forced thousands of voters to leave the polls without being able to exercise their franchise.

Paper trails and paper records are not sufficient to safeguard elections and restore confidence among the electorate. Unless there is a paper ballot for every vote cast, three fundamental principles of democratic elections are violated:

  1. Observable tallies. It is impossible for citizens to observe the counting of electronic ballots and audit the results.

  2. Equal access. Requiring voters to cast votes on computers discriminates against those who are not familiar with the technology.
  3. Accurate results. It is impossible to ensure that the reported results are accurate. In fact, a voter-verifiable paper audit trail cannot be depended on to provide the certainty lacking in electronic tallies. Clear evidence from several recent elections reveals instances in which:
    • The electronic screen record did not reflect the voter's intent.
    • The electronic count did not match the paper trail produced by the e-voting machine.
    • The summary review screen did not match the paper trail produced by the e-voting machine.
    • Voters did not know to verify the paper trail or were prevented from doing so by improper design, incorrect setup, or malfunction of the printer.
    • Computer systems introduced unnecessary complexity into the entire election process and therefore increased the likelihood of errors by voters, poll workers, and election officials.
    • Computerized voting relinquished control of the final outcome to the technical skills of those who programed the software.

While it is not easy to reconcile the money already spent on new DRE systems, it would be worse to continue using election equipment that is not accomplishing its critical task. If this were a public safety matter, no one would question the ban on the continued use of a dangerous product, even if it had been funded by billions of public dollars. Why should we act any differently when it comes to protecting the safety of our electoral process?

Ultimately, the true price of free, fair, reliable, accurate, and transparent elections in America cannot be judged by dollars alone.

We therefore urge you to immediately enact legislation which requires a paper ballot for every vote cast. Now is the moment for action, in time to take effect for the 2008 primaries and general election.

Respectfully yours,

The Undersigned

VoterAction.org
VotersUnite.org
VelvetRevolution.us
National Voting Rights Institute
Demos
TrueMajorityAction
Dolores Huerta Foundation

Broward Election Reform Coalition
California Election Protection Network
Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota
Coalition for Voting Integrity - Pennsylvania
Coloradoans For Voting Integrity
Commonweal Institute
Election Defense Alliance
Florida Fair Elections Coalition
Gathering To Save Our Democracy - Tennessee
Georgians for Verified Voting
Iowans for Voting Integrity
Mainstreet Moms (theMMOB.org)
N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting
Network of Citizens
New Yorkers for Verified Voting
Oregon Voter Rights Coalition
ProgressiveActionAlliance.org
Palm Beach Coalition for Election Reform
Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections - Florida
SAVEOurVotes.org - Maryland
Texas Safe Voting
TrueVoteMD
Verifiable Voting Coalition of Virginia
Verify The Vote Indiana
Virginia Verified Voting
VoteAllegheny
VotePA
VoteRescue of Texas
Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay