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HR 550: Making sure your vote counts

The reverberations from the 2000 and 2004 voting irregularities are still being felt around the country. When the integrity of voting becomes a mysterious black box of confusion controlled by corporate interests, our democracy is at risk. Witness this news out of Raleigh about the Diebold weasel shenanigans in the Tar Heel State just a couple of days ago. The company never thought it would be forced to allow vetting of its equipment and software. North Carolina, after experiencing vote-eating by electronic touch screen devices last year, brought the hammer down on black box voting machines.

One of the nation’s leading suppliers of electronic voting machines may decide against selling new equipment in North Carolina after a judge declined Monday to protect it from criminal prosecution should it fail to disclose software code as required by state law.

Diebold Inc., which makes automated teller machines and security and voting equipment, is worried it could be charged with a felony if officials determine the company failed to make all of its code some of which is owned by third-party software firms, including Microsoft Corp. available for examination by election officials in case of a voting mishap.

The requirement is part of the minimum voting equipment standards approved by state lawmakers earlier this year following the loss of more than 4,400 electronic ballots in Carteret County during the November 2004 election. The lost votes threw at least one close statewide race into uncertainty for more than two months.

and more, in California:

Diebold machines were blamed for voting disruptions in a California primary election last year. California has refused to certify some machines because of their malfunction rate. California officials have agreed to let a computer expert attempt to hack into Diebold machines to examine how secure they are.

On Monday, California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said his office might seek to expand such testing to all systems seeking certification for use in California’s 58 counties.

If you’re a regular reader of The Brad Blog, over the last year, Brad has tirelessly reported on countless stories of voting irregularities and shady, criminal dealings that make your skin crawl.

This is why we need HR 550.

House Resolution 550 is the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, sponsored by Congressman Rush Holt (NJ-12) and co-sponsored by 159 Representatives (only 9 are Republican – gee, I wonder why?). The bill, incidentally has been endorsed by the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform.

H.R. 550 will:

* Mandate a voter verified paper ballot for every vote cast in every federal election, nationwide; because the voter verified paper record is the only one verified by the voters themselves, rather than by the machines, it will serve as the vote of record in any case of inconsistency with electronic records;

* Protect the accessibility requirements of the Help America Vote Act for voters with disabilities;

* Require random, unannounced, hand-count audits of actual election results in every state, and in each county, for every Federal election;

* Prohibit the use of undisclosed software and wireless and concealed communications devices and internet connections in voting machines;

* Provide Federal funding to pay for implementation of voter verified paper balloting; and

* Require full implementation by 2006

It’s sad that we even have to talk about why it’s important to have an auditable voting system in this country.

It’s even worse that there’s a need for legislation to mandate a paper trail.

It’s practically criminal that any member of Congress should oppose such basic, fundamental principles about election integrity and the people’s right for a vote to count. The lack of Republican support for HR 550 says it all.

In North Carolina, here are the members already supporting the measure:

Rep Butterfield, G. K. [NC-1] – 3/17/2005
Rep Etheridge, Bob [NC-2] – 2/16/2005
Rep Miller, Brad [NC-13] – 7/21/2005
Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] – 2/2/2005

***

The Voter Confidence Petition in Support of H.R. 550 is here: http://www.rushholt.com/petition.html

THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE ADMINISTRATION COMMITEE:
If you are a constituent of Housing Administration Committee members, contact them and ask them to support H.R. 550:

Representative Robert A. ‘Bob’ Brady (Democrat – Pennsylvania, 1st District)
Representative John T. Doolittle (Republican – California, 4th District)
Representative Vernon J. Ehlers (Republican – Michigan, 3rd District)
Representative Zoe Lofgren (Democrat – California, 16th District)
Representative John L. Mica (Republican – Florida, 7th District)
Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald (Democrat – California, 37th District) Ranking Member
Representative Candice S. Miller (Republican – Michigan, 10th District)
Representative Robert William ‘Bob’ Ney (Republican – Ohio, 18th District) Chair
Representative Thomas M. Reynolds (Republican – New York, 26th District)

If you want to write a letter to the House Administration Committee, the address is: 1309 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-6157

Phone or FAX the Committee
Phone: 202-225-8281
Fax: 202-225-9957

Additional Resources…
Verified Voting
Vote Trust USA
Voters Unite!

Hat tips to DBK of Blanton’s and Ashton‘s for the blogswarm info and Shakes Sis for launching the Big Brass Alliance swarm.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding