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Rep. Holt Introduces Emergency Bill to Help Ensure Accuracy, Integrity of 2008 Election PDF  | Print |  Email
By Rep. Rush Holt Media Release   
January 18, 2008
Legislation Would Reimburse State and Local Jurisdictions That Opt in for Paper Ballots and/or Audits

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ, pictured at right) today introduced the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008, a plan to allow state and local jurisdictions to opt-in to receive reimbursements from the federal government if they convert to a paper ballot voting system,offer emergency paper ballots, and/or conduct audits by hand counts.

"While the House has not acted on our legislation to require paper ballots and audits for all votes in all states in time for 2008, there is still time to take action to protect the accuracy, integrity, and security of the 2008 general elections," Holt said. "This plan provides an incentive for state or localities that want to do the right thing."

The bill would authorize $500 million to reimburse paperless jurisdictions that convert to paper-based voting systems in 2008, as well those that don't fully convert to a paper-based system but provide emergency paper ballots that would be counted as regular ballots in the event of machine failure. The reimbursements would cover the cost of equipment and cost of developing procedures for using a paper-based system, with or without electronic counting.

Additionally, the bill would authorize $100 million for jurisdictions that conduct audits that meet basic minimum requirements, including the use of a random selection, an independent auditor, at least a 3 percent audit sample, and public observation.

Last year, Holt introduced the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (H.R. 811), landmark legislation requiring a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast and routine random audits. The bill, which was reported out of committee in May and awaits action on the House floor, would require all states to meet federal standards of ballot verifications and audits. Today's bill would not require a nationwide standard, but rather would provide incentives for states to provide a voter-verified, audited election for the 2008 general election. Twenty states - six complete states and some number of counties in 14 other states - that will be conducting completely unauditable elections in 2008.

"The right to vote is the most fundamental right of our democracy as it is the right through which we secure all others," Holt said. "Voters should never have to leave their polling places wondering if their legitimate vote will be counted. This bill would give local and state officials the resources to protect citizens' right to vote. Time is of the essence. I hope for House consideration and passage as soon as
possible."
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