Announces Plans to 'Continue Oversight Hearings on Election Integrity' and Re-Introduce Legislation Calling for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots in Presidential Elections...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2007, 5:04pm PT  

Democratic Presidential Candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced plans to drop his support of Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ)'s controversial election reform bill, HR 811, during a telephone appearance at a New Hampshire activist event over the weekend. The Ohio congressman and outspoken critic of the Iraq War also announced that he plans to re-introduce "The Paper Ballot Act," (HR 6200) a bill he filed in the last Congress, requiring the hand counting of paper ballots in Presidential elections.

Kucinich "announced he will advise Rep. Holt that the he will not be supporting HR 811, a voter reform bill rapidly losing support," according to a press release issued today by his New Hampshire campaign spokesman....

The news was first published over the weekend by BlackBoxVoting.org, a non-partisan election integrity watchdog organization, whose founder, Bev Harris, spoke at the event as well.

Speaking to a gathering at DemocracyFest, a grassroots event sponsored by Democracy for America (DFA), the Ohio Congressman said, "The key to engaging voters is complete credibility of the electoral process," as he announced intentions to "continue my oversight hearings on election integrity.”

"When asked about reintroducing HR 6200, his bill calling for hand counted paper ballots in the presidential race for last session, Kucinich said it would be 'very soon,'" according to the campaign's press release, which was also posted by Democracy for New Hampshire election integrity advocate Nancy Tobi at OpEdNews today. Tobi, an outspoken critic of HR 811, also spoke at the event, which her group also helped sponsor.

DFA is headed by Jim Dean, the brother of DNC Chairman Howard Dean, who has previously endorsed Holt's bill. In a statement issued by the DNC earlier this year, Dean said that the bill "represents a giant step forward in improving election administration in this nation and in restoring the confidence of our citizens in the way our elections are run."

Jim Dean has told us that DFA itself has not taken a specific position on HR 811, but has called for paper ballots in American elections. The Holt bill does not require a paper ballot for every vote cast. Though the bill's language deceptively describes paper trail records created by Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting systems as "paper ballots" despite the fact that those paper trails are never actually counted on Election Night, and the vast majority of them are never required to be counted by anyone or anything. Instead, HR 811 requires that a random sampling of 3% (sometimes as many as 10%) of those paper trails be counted by hand in a post-election audit days later.

DRE voting systems fail to meet the requirement in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 which says that such voting systems must allow "the voter to verify...the votes selected by the voter on the ballot before the ballot is cast and counted." It is impossible to do so on such systems. The Holt bill would allow for their continued use nonetheless.

Kucinich's New Hampshire campaign spokesman, Chris Collier, confirmed Kucinich's plan in a phone conversation with The BRAD BLOG this afternoon. He said he believes Kucinich, who is currently in California, will be speaking to Holt this week after returning to DC, to inform him that he wishes to be withdrawn as a co-sponsor of the bill.

Collier says that Kucinich "is good to his word," but a "reasonable man," and would be willing to work with Holt if the New Jersey Congressman were willing to make needed changes in the bill to address the many concerns of Election Integrity advocates. The BRAD BLOG has spoken at length to staffers in Holt's office, as well as Holt himself, about making such changes in the bill. So far, they have been adamant in their refusal to include a requirement in the legislation for a paper ballot --- one that is actually counted --- for every vote cast in America.

Earlier this year Rep. Maxine Waters had announced her intention to withdraw sponsorship as well during an appearance in San Francisco, though she is still listed as one of the bill's current 216 co-sponsors.

Last night, The BRAD BLOG ran an editorial by Ellen Theisen of the non-partisan election integrity organization VotersUnite.org. Theisen, who had been an ardent supporter of previously introduced versions of Holt's bill, has now come out against the current version citing seven "severe failures" in the bill. She writes that such failures will do "more harm than good" to our democracy. She charges that the bill's provisions will "legitimize that 'ballots' need not be counted" and will "endorse the practice of secret vote-counting."

Much more information on the concerns about HR 811 is available on our Holt Bill Special Coverage Page at http://www.BradBlog.com/Holt.