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What's Wrong with Holt II (HR 811)

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Message Bev Harris
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You may have received one of the mass e-mails today from Common Cause or PFAW
urging you to support hurried passage of the new Holt Bill. Below is a concise
list of problems with the bill. And you should know:

- Common Cause and PFAW lobbied for HAVA.
- Common Cause and PFAW then lobbied for full funding of the DRE purchases.
- Common Cause told its members to support Holt II (HR 811) two weeks before
they knew what was going to be in the bill
- PFAW put deceptive bullet points on its Web site regarding the bill (but
removed them when Brad Friedman confronted them on the deceptions)

- Open Voting Consortium has publicly come out against the Bill
- Black Box Voting has publicly come out against the Bill
- Brad Friedman has publicly come out against the Bill
- Jon Bonifaz ( / Demos) has publicly come out against the Bill
- Paul Lehto has publicly come out against the Bill
- Democracy for New Hampshire has publicly come out against the Bill
- John Gideon of Voters Unite has refused to support the bill

and there will be more.


1. Deceptive language. Calls a paper TRAIL a paper BALLOT.

2. Billion-dollar unfunded mandate: Requires text conversion technology in every
polling place. At $7000 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, 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 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 meaningful audits.

6. Conflicting requirements -- ie, 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
COTS - 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

8. Mush language about who gets what. (example: "The manufacturer shall provide
the appropriate election official with THE INFORMATION NECESSARY FOR THE

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 audit solutions

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 yesterday) into meaning when there is a
printer jam damaging the paper, the machine count will trump.

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

Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting

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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.
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