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...

We're getting conflicting word tonight about the scheduled hearing in the House Rules Committee. It's currently scheduled for 10:30am ET to reconvene where things left off yesterday, after a reportedly contentious hearing where Holt was put on the defensive as few, if any, on the committee seemed happy with the bill as is.

If the committee meets, and determines a rule for the bill, it is said to be headed to the House Floor for debate on Monday. The "rule" in question is whether or not to allow any and all amendments (Open Rule), only certain amendments (Restricted Rule), or no amendments allowed at all (Closed Rule).

We have heard from a good source --- though we are unable to confirm the report at this hour --- that it's possible the Rules Committee will not meet at all tomorrow, and the bill could then be put on "indefinite hold." Our source on this took pains to point out that he/she was not able to confirm that point one way or another, but believed his/her source was usually reliable. Take that all for what it's worth. As of now, the committee is still scheduled for 10:30am to reconvene on the matter of HR 811 as the only order of business on the committee's calendar tomorrow.

Either way, we'd still recommend, as we did yesterday, that folks contact the members of the Rules Committee and the House Leadership, and ask them to allow the Davis amendment restricting the use of DREs. Better yet, let them and your own members know that DREs should be banned entirely in the Holt Bill (HR 811) before they even consider voting in favor of it. Such a ban should be added to HR 811 or any other such bill, as even the NY Times has now caught up with common sense, computer science, and mountains of reasons to call for such a ban themselves.

Contact names/numbers for Leadership and Rules Committee members are posted at the end of the article again for your convenience. We hear they're getting a lot of calls on this. Let's help them get many more!

Davis's office has let us know that both Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) have signed on as co-sponsors of her amendment, now being referred to as the Susan Davis-Hinchey-Lee amendment.

While we don't support HR 811 as currently written (despite having worked on some of the language ourselves before it was introduced), some of its biggest supporters have now endorsed the Davis-et al. amendment. Endorsers include, Verified Voting, and VoteTrustUSA. Notably (and embarrassingly) absent in their endorsement is People for the American Way (PFAW), which prefers DREs to paper-based systems, and Common Cause, which seems to follow whatever PFAW wants to do, apparently.

Finally, before the contact names and numbers, here's a terrific sample letter to email or fax to your members, as written by New York Election Integrity advocate Teresa Hommel of



September 6, 2007

Members of the House Rules Committee
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
By FAX: 202-225-1061

Dear Representatives:

HR811 has been modified since most of its sponsors signed on. Activists are now calling the bill "Microsoft 811" because it is more favorable to vendors and software makers than to citizens.

HR811 allows continued use of invisible electronic votes and voting counting. Under HR811 the paper trail would not be counted for election night tallies, but only for 3-10% "recounts" days later. But everyone knows that once a winner is announced, it is nearly impossible to correct any errors. Just look at the Christine Jennings race where 18,000 electronic votes "disappeared."

VOTE YES --- Please work for the following amendments to HR811.

1. BAN DREs ("Direct Recording Electronic" voting machines that record and count votes) including in early voting! We do not wish to ban ballot marking devices with touchscreens that assist disabled voters to mark paper ballots that are the same or similar to ballots marked by hand by able voters.

2. All voters must have a voter-marked paper ballot for November, 2008, whether marked by hand by able voters or marked by "ballot marking devices" by disabled voters. (We agree with California Secy. of State Bowen's temporary measure to allow use of DREs with paper trails to be used as "ballot-printing devices" by disabled voters.)

3. No secret software! All software used in equipment for public elections to record, cast, store, handle, or count votes must be freely available to the public.

4. Election records available to the public. The public has a right to request, and promptly receive, any data from an election or audit.

5. Election Management systems must be "standalone" with no communications capability.

6. Audits to confirm the true winner of every federal election with 99% statistical certainty.

7. The Election Assistance Commission should not be given any additional power over American elections, which should remain a state matter.

VOTE NO --- Please work AGAINST any amendment to postpone these requirements. Optical scan ballots and scanners have been easily implemented in 2 or 3 months in several jurisdictions.

Sincerely yours,


Now go save democracy! Because it looks like I'll be on the road again for much of tomorrow! I expect democracy saved by the time I pull over for the night. Thanks!

Here are Leadership and Rules Committee Member contacts again...

House Leadership:

Phone: (202) 225-4965
Fax: (202) 225-4188

Phone: (202) 225-4131
Fax: (202) 225-4300

U.S. House Committee on Rules:
Main Number: 202-225-9091


Phone: (202) 225-3615
Fax: (202) 225-7822

Phone: (202) 225-6101
Fax: (202) 225-5759

Tel: (202) 225-1313
Fax: (202) 225-1171

Phone: (202) 225-7163
Fax: (202) 225-0566

Phone: (202) 225-6131
Fax: 202-225-0819

PETER WELCH, (VT);id=23&Itemid=61
Phone:(202) 225-4115

Phone: (202)225-3376
Fax: (202)225-5652

Phone: 202-225-3665
Fax: 202-225-1891

Phone: (202) 225-3401
Fax: (202) 225-2266


DAVID DREIER (CA) - Ranking Minority Member
Office (202) 225-2305
Fax (202) 225-7018

Phone: (202) 225-4211

Phone: (202) 225-5816
Fax: (202) 225-3251

(202) 225-2231
(202) 225-5878 fax