Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lisa Pease on Voting Laws

Dear Voting Activists,

I wanted to bring a couple of important items to your attention—one good, and one horrific.

First, Holt’s bill is better than ever, in the latest version. Clear language expressly forbids the use of DRE (direct recording electronic) voting machines. Paperless machines have to be replaced by 2010, if the bill passes, and machines that currently produce a paper record have to be replaced by 2014. But again, that’s assuming the bill PASSES in time. You can read the latest version of the Holt bill via the link at the end of this message.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that, separately, there’s a very concerted effort afoot to enable Internet voting in this country. Internet voting presents a completely insecure system that has no paper trail and no way to be audited by hand.

Just as the disabled community was the excuse for bringing us unauditable DRE machines, Internet voting is being put forward as a way of helping the troops.

So our efforts have reached a crossroads. If we fail to see Holt’s bill through the door this time around, we won’t get another chance. Internet voting will be ushered in, and our power to ‘vote out’ the people who don’t want to help us will be seriously compromised, if not gone altogether. That’s an unthinkable option, for me, and I hope for all of you as well. Please understand the push for Internet voting is a very serious effort with a real chance of succeeding if we do not act promptly.

The only bill already written, vetted, familiar to the membership, and ready to be passed is Holt’s bill. It doesn’t have a number yet, and won’t until it’s introduced.

And that’s where you come in.

Rep. Holt wants to get as many co-sponsors as possible before the bill is introduced.

Will you please call your Congressperson in the next few days and find out where they stand re Holt’s latest bill? If they are already a co-sponsor, thank them mightily for their political will and courage. If they are not yet a co-sponsor, please encourage them, with all the passion you feel about this issue, to support this last firewall against truly unaccountable, unauditable voting.

Time is of the essence. If we want this bill to be in effect for the 2010 election, we’d need to get this bill on the House floor for a vote by the end of July.

Here are some key points you can mention:

Holt’s bill will require mandatory voter-marked paper records and a mandatory audit of those records, while still providing for accessible options for the disabled.

Holt’s bill has already been vetted by the House Administration committee and is essentially ready to go, with very few changes from the last session, but with the key change of banning DREs by requiring that the paper ballot must be marked by the voter before it is counted.

By requiring both machine and hand counts (via manual audits), we dramatically reduce the possibility of a rigged vote. It’s easier to rig a fully hand-counted vote or a fully machine-counted vote than it is to rig a vote that is counted by two entirely separate systems.

Holt’s bill will implicitly ban Internet voting before it gets off the ground because it requires a paper record marked by the voter, something which would be impossible to do using the Internet alone.

I don’t want to sound alarmist. But truly, we are at the end of the line. Each time the bill fails to come to a vote, the DRE and Internet voting vendors (one and the same) grow bolder. We need to completely cut them off at this pass before Internet voting becomes a reality. If that happens, our only recourse will be in the streets. And that’s a battle I hope none of us have to fight, because that one will be much more costly to all of us.

Although some states have been moving to paper-based elections, seven states still have fully paperless, unauditable elections. Many other states have numerous counties still using paperless voting systems. How many more jurisdictions will succumb to aggressive efforts to implement Internet voting? Many people still don’t get it. Most people are decent enough and innocent enough to believe Internet voting would be both convenient and safe. After all, they bank online, right? That’s why the burden falls on those few of us who really do understand the dangers to do all we can while we still have a chance to make a difference.

While I’m thrilled Obama is our president, the fact that he got elected made a lot of activists complacent, feeling that our vote really isn’t at risk. But it is, and more than ever before.

Please. Call your Representative and Senators this week and ask if they are supporting Rush Holt’s bill banning paperless voting. (Ask your Senator to support Sen. Bill Nelson’s clone of Holt’s bill when it is introduced.) Talk to their staff and make the strongest case you can. Ask for an answer. Try not to just pass a comment along. Get your Congressperson on the record regarding their support, or opposition, to this bill.

If you don’t know who your Representative is, you can find out at By entering your address and ZIP, you can find out who represents you in Washington.

Please share this message with your friends who are politically aware. We all need to help push this one over the top. No legislation passes without a groundswell of grassroots activity behind it. The other side is working overtime to stop this legislation. It’s up to us to counter their efforts.

Thank you, as always, for being such a good patriot and supporting an honest, accountable vote. I’m grateful for all you continue to do.

Lisa Pease
Author and activist


The latest version of Holt’s bill:

Voter Action’s strong endorsement of Holt’s bill:

List of Internet voting bills being proposed:

One of the arguments has been that Internet voting would increase participation. That’s the opposite of what happened in Hawaii with their recent Internet voting experiment. Voting participation dropped 83%:

List of various systems used by various states (seven have fully paperless systems, with key congressional and senate seats being determined):

If you get pushback re allowing the military to vote, point them to Holt’s separate bill providing express mail services for soldiers to mail paper ballots back, at taxpayer expense. The text of this short bill is here:

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