Help America Vote Act II- Floor Action Soon!
Your Help is Critical!
Update: Weigh in by Friday, September 14!! As a result of your calls and faxes, House leadership has postponed consideration of H.R. 811 until the week of September 17. Keep calling and faxing your members of Congress; urge them to tell leadership to start fresh and send the bill back to committee so that they can sit down with county and state officials and develop standards that are workable and fully funded. Fire up the phone lines and fax machines again! H.R. 811 is coming up for a final vote in the House of Representatives. Your member of Congress has been asked to let leadership know how they intend to vote by Tuesday at 4 p.m.
H.R. 811 is officially scheduled to come up for a vote between Wednesday and Friday; we understand that based on responses to Tuesday's deadline, decisions will be made about whether to allow any amendments on Wednesday afternoon, with debate and a vote on final passage slated for Thursday or Friday.
Below is a flyer that NACo will be distributing to House offices next week urging a "NO" vote. This battle is still very uphill; even members of Congress who understand our concerns are inclined to vote for a bill for which they have received thousands of letters, e-mails and faxes from voters affiliated with MoveOn.Org, Common Cause, People for the American Way, and other organizations that have represented this legislation to their membership as "fixing" problems in our voting system.
Also below is a "Dear Colleague" letter sent today by a bipartisan pair of H.R. 811 cosponsors who are interested in amending the legislation to address some of our concerns. They are still working on their list of amendments and are eager to hear from other members of Congress who are interested in improving the legislation.
Given the short timeframe, please do the following ASAP
1) Call your member of Congress and ask how they intend to vote on H.R. 811;
2) Insist on an answer. Tell them that you know the Democratic leadership has sent out a "whip notice" asking for a reply by 4 p.m.
3) If they intend to vote against H.R. 811, thank them and let me know!
4) If you cannot persuade your member of Congress to vote against H.R. 811, insist that they contact Representatives Moore and Petri and work with them on amendments to address your most pressing or specific concerns (Democrats will want to call Moore's office, Republicans will want to contact Petri).
If you do not have an existing relationship with your member of Congress or their staff, you can find their contact information here. After entering your ZIP code, click on "info" for each member to get their telephone number and list of key staff.
If you have time to do so, please also put it in writing and fax your comments to their office. The pro-H.R. 811 advocacy groups are drowning their offices in paper; it helps for us to do so as well. Under the latest version-
* Counties without a voter-verified paper trail will have to adopt one for 2008, and even counties that use a paper-ballot marking device (such as the AutoMARK) will have to replace their equipment with yet-to-be-developed equipment that allows for hands-free visual inspection and casting of the paper ballot by 2012.
* There is no longer a requirement for "archival quality paper", but reel-to-reel paper is only permissible through 2012 and the paper printout will still be the official ballot.
* You will have to provide parallel voting systems in every polling place - along with deploying the new electronic equipment, you must offer pre-printed paper ballots to every voter. This also applies for early voting and vote centers.
* There is no longer a requirement for state audit boards to take possession of the ballots, but the state would still be appointing an outside auditor to conduct a pre-certification hand audit of up to 10 percent of precincts. Optical ballot scanners would still be banned from use in any recount.
* The bill acknowledges that the cost would be upwards of $1 billion - but makes no promise that funds will ever be provided.
* All of the intentionally vaguely worded requirements of the bill are still enforceable by private action in federal court.
Keep up the good work! Let's get this bill pulled again -
<Dear Colleague Letter>
August 31, 2007
Dear Colleague: We want to bring to your attention a recent Washington Post editorial regarding election reform legislation that the House will consider next week. As original cosponsors of H.R. 811, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, we strongly support the idea of voter verified paper ballots. We have heard, however, from our local and state election officials their deep concerns about the cost and feasibility of H.R. 811 in its current form. It is our hope that we can put aside partisan differences and work together to make the necessary improvements to H.R. 811 so that these concerns are addressed. We must increase voter confidence in our election process, but we should not impose unfunded mandates and unreasonable deadlines on our local and state governments.
Very truly yours,
/s DENNIS MOORE /s THOMAS PETRI
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Despite common misperception, H.R. 811 does not simply require a paper trail on voting equipment. It is a sweeping rewrite of the Help America Vote Act that will impose a multibillion-dollar unfunded mandate, create havoc throughout the nation's election system, require every county in the nation to replace current equipment, postpone the certification of election results, create a tide of private lawsuits, and require counties to rush implementation and cut corners in ways that will destroy public confidence rather than bolster it.
The National Association of Counties opposes H.R. 811 as written but would support amendments to address concerns such as the following:
* Multibillion-dollar unfunded mandate
* Preempts state laws allowing a reel-to-reel paper trail
* Requires many counties to replace their equipment twice - once in 2008 and again in 2012
* Requires parallel voting systems - new electronic systems that don't yet exist along with sufficient pre-printed paper ballots for all voters
* Imposes cumbersome and untested audit process
* Prohibits recounts using any automated equipment
* Prevents the use of vote centers and early voting unless county officials print thousands of different ballot styles in multiple languages for each location
* Ignores EAC standards and voting system certification