WheresThePaper received this summary in an email and believes that it comes from NASS.
The only witness on this first panel was Governor Charlie Crist of Florida. He discussed the legislation currently proposed in the FL legislature. The proposed state legislation would require a paper ballot by the fall of 2008. The bill would replace all touch screen machines with optical scan equipment. He said this bill would also employ a "ballot on demand" system for early voting and eliminate the need for touch screens at early voting sites. During Q&A, Gov. Crist told Chairwoman Lofgren that they would be able to meet the fall of 2008 timeline if his legislature passed the legislation quickly and if they provided the necessary funding. He also explained that they will meet the disability component of HAVA by having a touch screen ballot marking device.
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) testified on the second panel. Rep. Holt said that his legislation would require that each vote be verifiable and that the election results are publicly auditable. He said he would be willing to change the word "archival" currently found in his legislation to "durable" however that would still not allow for thermal paper, because he didn't consider the thermal paper to be durable. When asked why it wasn't sufficient to allow the states to move forward with their own state legislation like Florida, Rep. Holt said that he felt his bill was better than anything the states have in place or are considering. Rep. Petri said that he had some technical issues with the bill. Chairwoman Lofgren asked him if he thought those could be addressed and he indicated that he thought they could. Chairwoman Lofgren asked Rep. Holt if his bill includes verification for the disabled. He said his bill requires it. Ranking Member McCarthy (R-CA) told Rep. Holt that he has heard from many state and local election officials, including testimony in earlier hearings, who oppose the bill. He also introduced letters for the record opposing the legislation from NCSL and NACo. Rep. Holt said that not all election officials oppose the legislation and said he had a letter to introduce for the record as well. He said he thought that the reason so many election officials were opposed to his bill was because he has found that they don't like being told what to do. Full Committee Ranking Member Ehlers (R-MI) asked Rep. Holt if there were DRE's that meet the requirements of the bill. Rep. Holt told him that there were five to six vendors that have DRE's that meet the requirements of the bill and would submit the vendor names to the committee. Rep. Ehlers said he didn't oppose the intent of the bill, but did agree with the state and local election officials he's heard from that the bill is overly prescriptive. He said federal legislation should establish the principle but not prescribe the method and he will propose changes to the bill.
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson testified on the third panel. Sec. Bowen testified that every state election affects every other state's citizens and that states should accomplish fair and open elections. In CA, she looked at the steps that state and local governments should undertake to achieve fair and open elections. In CA all DRE's are required to have a VVPAT, there is a mandatory 1% recount that every county does before election is certified and she is doing a top to bottom review of all equipment and procedures in CA. She said that CA will get their review and necessary changes made by 2008. Subcommittee Chairwoman Lofgren asked Sec. Bowen if her review could end up decertifying voting machines. Sec. Bowen said it could and that they may not be able to replace before the primaries in 2008 but that they could borrow equipment from other states, as has been done before. Sec. Bowen said that we also need better and more options for accessible equipment. Subcommittee Ranking Member McCarthy (R-CA) asked Sec. Bowen if the $300 million referenced in the Holt bill was enough to make changes required by the legislation and she said no. He also asked her if 2008 is a "doable" implementation date. She said 2008 is doable for some parts of the bill but not others. She said that auditing should be random but must audit each vote cast and that she wasn't sure what the right number was, but that auditing 1% of the ballots cast was not high enough. She said that statisticians should be looking at the right number. Sec. Nelson said that SD uses optical scan ballots and ballot marking devices because that was the equipment SD voters wanted. He said Congress should be asking how we can improve democracy without damaging what is already working. He said state and local governments are best positioned to drive election reform and asked that Congress work with state and local officials to finish implementing HAVA before calling for more changes to the system. He said the approach taken by the Holt bill was a "one size fits all" approach and that it would cause unintended consequences.
The fourth panel included Tanya Clay House of People for the American Way; George Gilbert, Director of Elections, Guilford County, NC; Edward Felten, Ph.D., Professor in Computer Science and Public Affairs, Princeton University; and Don Norris, Ph.D., and Professor in Public Policy, University of Maryland. Ms. Clay House said that People for the American Way supported HR 811 with proper funding and a reasonable timeframes. Mr. Gilbert said the most effective thing this Congress could do is to encourage and pursue technological developments to improve elections. Mr. Felten said that computers have a role to play in elections, but this should be coupled with paper and that the primary record of the vote should be the paper. Lastly, Mr. Norris said that HR 811 was a flawed bill that basically ends electronic voting and stifles innovation. He said that if the concern is verifying votes, then the bill should indicate an independent vote verification process. Rep. Juanita Millender McDonald said that independent verification is the direction of standards writing for the TGDC. George Gilbert said he was opposed to the feasibility and costs associated with HR 811. Rep. Juanita Millender McDonald introduced her statement into the record and said she also had letters of opposition from Connie McCormack, LA County Registrar and Judy Duffy of the League of Women Voters.
The final panel included Noel Runyan of Personal Data Systems, Dr. Snider of Access for the Handicap, Warren Stewart of VoteTrustUSA and Commissioner Gail Mahoney of Jackson County Michigan and Chair of NACo. Mr. Runyan said that he is focused on improving access to voting systems. He was told that the new accessible systems would be rigorously federally vetted. He said in the last three out of five elections, he hasn't been able to use the accessible equipment in his polling place. Chairwoman Lofgren asked him what he would recommend be employed in polling places and he said optical scan and ballot marking devices. Dr. Snider thanked Rep. Holt for reaching out to him, but that his bill slows down the progress of improving election equipment for the disabled. He asked that Congress keep the promise of HAVA with accessible voting for the disabled. Mr. Stewart said that the Holt bill is essential and that he has prepared cost projections for how much it would cost to comply with the Holt bill based on what equipment jurisdictions were using for the November 2006 elections. (optical scan – no changes; DRE – retrofit with printers). Stewart said the changes could be done by 2008 based on the fact that the FL governor testified earlier that they were making their changes by 2008. The committee asked Stewart to submit his calculations to them immediately ( http://www.votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2339&Itemid=1222). Commissioner Mahoney said that she supports the goals of HR 811 but implementing would bring results Congress doesn't want. She said the process needs to be slowed down. She said that if the states and localities had actually been given the full amount of time of time HAVA intended and the full funding authorized, we would not need this hearing now.