Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rush Holt in New Jersey

Until Linda Stender becomes my representative in Congress in January 2009, we still have Mike Ferguson. So, I live vicariously through those in the 12th who are represented by Rep. Rush Holt. It was not too long ago that Congressman Holt represented Flemington. And he represents towns not too far from Flemington in Hunterdon.

So, I keep a close eye on what he does, and always appreciate his leadership in Congress:
From "Freepage News":
Early next year, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., will introduce the "Confidence in Voting Act of 2008," which would provide $500 million to counties and other election jurisdictions to replace controversial paperless electronic voting systems before the 2008 presidential election. The bill envisions voters using paper ballots that are marked by hand, or ballots that are printed on Election Day after voters use a computer to make their choices. An electronic scanner, like a standardized test, would then tally the ballots.

The bill also provides $100 million for audits, where 3 percent of all paper ballots -- including absentee and early voting -- would be hand-counted to verify the electronic count before winners would be certified. Those audits would be public, according to the New Jersey congressman.

The bill also would pay for printing "emergency" paper ballots to be used as backup if there were a "failure" of paperless voting systems, although it does not state what constitutes an emergency or a failure.

"The overall goal is to have audited elections based on voter-verified paper ballots throughout the country," Holt said. "Audits must be completed and discrepancies resolved before certification of the winner. You could publish the results on Election Night, but they would not be final."

The proposal by Holt comes against a backdrop of congressional gridlock on voting technology issues and studies by top election officials in key states, notably California and Ohio, which have documented security and accuracy problems with all-electronic voting systems. In some states, election administrators have wanted to update voting systems before 2008's presidential vote but have lacked the necessary funds.

"What we do is offer reimbursement for anyone who opts in," Holt said, stressing the proposal's optional nature. "There is time to do this by November."

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