[YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS]
I urge you to do everything in your power to cause HR811, the “Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007,” to be amended before it comes to a vote in the House of Representatives. If the flaws in HR811 cannot be removed, I urge you to withdraw your sponsorship and vote against it.
HR811’s problems are listed below, with suggested solutions.
Worst Problem: In response to growing national demand for paper ballots, HR811 defines a "voter-verified paper trail" from an electronic voting machine as a paper ballot! But nobody counts the votes on the paper trail to get election results. No law requires the paper trail to be counted completely (for example, New York law requires only 3% spot-check). HR811 would cause endless problems and confusion with state election laws where the term “ballot” means a voter-marked paper ballot. The thing that would be defined as a ballot in federal law would not have to be counted, according to most state laws, to determine election results.
Second Worst: HR811 supposedly requires audits, but states with certain state audit requirements are exempt. A state’s audit could consist of merely a reprint of the tally sheets from electronic voting machines. This is a serious loophole. It means HR811 allows 100% electronic elections in which neither the paper trail nor any voter-marked paper ballots need to be counted.
Please inform yourself about the other problems in this bill, which are listed below.
A longer discussion of these flaws and solutions is at
1. Problem--HR811 allows the continued use of DREs and defines the term "paper ballot" to include DRE printouts which are usually called a "voter-verified paper trail" or "VVPAT." This is in response to the growing national demand for paper ballots. It is dangerous legally because it establishes in law that all ballots need not be counted to determine election outcomes.
Solution--HR811 must ban DREs, and require the use of paper ballots, defined (as they have been historically) as a ballot marked by the voter's hand or by a non-tabulating accessible ballot-marking device. At the very least, the definition of "ballot" must not be corrupted.
2. Problem--HR811 mandates use of computerized means for accessibility and verifiability for voters with disabilities.
Solution--HR811 must allow accessibility and verifiability by voters with disabilities to be accomplished through low-tech innovations such as the Vote-PAD.
3. Problem--HR811 contains a loophole that allows states to bypass meaningful audits including hand-counts. Section 327 provides an exemption from HR811's audit requirements for elections in which a recount is triggered by State law due to a narrow margin. Thus, if a state requires only a machine recount, the election would be exempted from all hand counting of that narrow race. All computerized counting methods including optical scanners are vulnerable to error. For this reason, statistically significant audits, conducted by hand counting the paper ballots, are essential for all elections counted by software.
Solution--HR811 must require all recounts to be conducted by hand-counting the paper ballots. This should include recounts mandated by State laws for races with narrow margins.
4. Problem--HR811 allows the central Election Management System ("EMS") of a computerized voting system to be connected to the Internet, yet this component is most vulnerable to easily-concealed tampering.
Solution--HR811 must ban all Internet connections for all components of voting systems. HR811 must also ban Internet transmission of voted overseas ballots.
5. Problem--HR811 permanently extends authorization of the EAC, a body that has failed every part of its mission statement from its inception, and most recently had to be threatened with legal action by the NYS Board of Elections before the EAC revealed why Ciber, NY's laboratory for certifying new voting systems, was no longer itself federally approved.
Solution--HR811 must extend authorization of the EAC through 2008 only, with provisions that enable and encourage the proactive oversight of the EAC by Congress and the public.
6. Problem--HR811's mandated "state audit boards" may cause conflicts with existing independent election oversight bodies in some states.
Solution--HR811 must require selection of audit boards to be done by "the state election oversight body independent of election administration, or where none exists, the chief auditor."
7. Problem--HR811 does not require prompt and timely audits of ballots cast in the pollsites (“precincts”).
Solution--HR811 must mandate how soon after an election a state must begin its audits of precinct ballots, as HR811 does for absentee and provisional ballots.