You may have received one of the mass e-mails recently from
Common Cause or People for the American Way (PFAW), urging you to support
hurried passage of the new Holt bill. Below is a concise list of problems with
And you should know:
Cause and PFAW lobbied for HAVA (Help America Vote Act).
Cause and PFAW then lobbied for full funding of the direct-recording
electronic (DRE) voting machine purchases.
Cause told its members to support Holt II (HR 811) two weeks before they
knew what was going to be in the bill.
put deceptive bullet points on its Web site regarding the bill (but
removed them when Brad Friedman confronted them on the deceptions).
Voting Consortium has publicly come out against the bill.
Box Voting has publicly come out against the bill.
Friedman has publicly come out against the bill.
Bonifaz (VoterAction.org / Demos) has publicly come out against the bill.
Lehto has publicly come out against the bill.
for New Hampshire has publicly come out against the bill.
Gideon of Voters Unite has refused to support the bill.
And there will be more.
Problems with the bill
1. Deceptive language. Calls a paper TRAIL a paper BALLOT.
2. Billion-dollar unfunded mandate: Requires text conversion
technology in every polling place. At $7,000 per machine for 185,000 polling
places, you do the math. See this article for
documentation on the billion-dollar boondoggle.
The bill is not talking about scanner wands, folks.
Note that only two vendors currently manufacture the needed
technology, and one (Populex) has as head of its advisory board Frank Carlucci,
the former chairman of the Carlyle Group and former CIA director, who was
Donald Rumsfeld's roommate in college. Every polling place in America. is this
really what you want? Isn't it time to read the fine print on this???
3. Makes the scandal-ridden Elections Assistance Commission
(EAC) a permanent fixture and increases its power -- Open Voting Consortium
statement: "Holt contemplates the invasion of these United States by the
federal government. If passed, it would BREAK the voting system in the states
while establishing a dictatorship to handle things: the Election Assistance
Commission ("EAC" or just "the Commission") with its four
commissioners appointed by the president of the United States."
4. Loss of secret ballots for the military
5. No recognition of citizen right to oversight. Audit
provisions do not allow either citizens or candidates access to any records for
6. Conflicting requirements -- i.e., must have text
converters by 2008 and must study how to best do the conversions by 2010.
7. Language on disclosed source contains an error in that it
doesn't deal with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components -- meaning, any
electronics component with a chip on it would be required to disclose source
code. There are literally hundreds of commercial off the shelf components in
the system -- printers, video drivers, motherboard components -- that contain
firmware, and these are manufactured all over the world. The bill would require
Hitachi, Seagate, Fuji, Western Digital to open up their code for their
commercial products if used in voting machines. Effectively eliminates the use
of electronics while at the same time mandating electronics.
8. Mush language about who gets what. (example: "The manufacturer
shall provide the appropriate election official with THE INFORMATION NECESSARY
FOR THE OFFICIAL TO PROVIDE INFORMATION . . .�)
9. Overcomplex: No Appendix, so sections of the bill require
the reader to actually go find a different bill and look up sections in it in
order to make sense of the current bill. (example: "Section 301(a)(1) of
such Act (42 U.S.C. 15481(a)(1)) is amended (A) in subparagraph (A)(i), by
striking "counted" and inserting "counted, in accordance with paragraphs
(2) and (3)").
10. Audit protocols that no one agrees with, even fans of
11. Loophole allowing central tabulators and ballot
definition software to be connected to the Internet.
12. Loophole allowing states with computer-only recount
protocols to bypass manual audits.
13. Loophole allowing machine count to supercede voter
verified paper when fuzzily described circumstances arise. Conny McCormack
already has tried to co-opt this (Feinstein senate hearing last week) into
meaning when there is a printer jam damaging the paper, the machine count will
14. Supports DREs
So many people worked so very hard on this bill, but in the
end it isn't about who worked hard. It's about getting it right.
And if it's got this many problems now, just wait until the
lobbyists carve it up.
Harris is the founder of Black Box
Voting, Inc., an
advocacy group opposed to electronic voting methods based on non open-source