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The Holt Bill, H.R. 811, and the "poll"

By       Message Jerry Berkman     Permalink
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On Sep. 1, Political Action sent members an email asking them to vote on whether MoveOn should support Rep. Rush Holt's election reform bill, H.R. 811.

This article discusses the problems with H.R. 811 and the problems MoveOn has in how it is handling this (and other) Election Integrity issues.

H.R. 811 is on the docket to be voted on this week in the House of Representatives. Contact your Representative now!

MoveOn ignores most of the issues

H.R. 811 is 60 pages long. MoveOn's summary is less than 20 lines. It leaves out many, many issues, and does not give links to any further discussion. How can you ask for direction on a very complicated and technical issue, without providing background?

Ellen Theisen's article, Rush Holt's HR 811 Does More Harm than Good , describes many of the flaws in the current bill.

MoveOn lists H.R. 811 supporters, but not opponents

MoveOn lists People for the American Way, the Brennan Center, and Common Cause as supporting H.R. 811. It does not list opponents. In fact, most of the Election Integrity community either opposes H.R. 811 or has not taken a stand.
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The following organizations have campaigns asking Congress to not pass H.R. 811 as is:

Others opposing the compromise include:

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen said:

I've worked with the author to try to strengthen the bill, but have not taken a position in support. Again, I am concerned that if we put the whole concept of a voter verified paper trail into statute and it's something that we know is problematic ... , we may find ourselves, once again, trying to improve something that's very expensive and that we'd better do right in the first place. (from audio linked in this article.)

Paper ballots or paper trails?

MoveOn refers to the bill as Holt's "paper ballots bill, H.R. 811". To most people, a paper ballot is like an absentee ballot, i.e. a piece of paper or cardboard which is marked by pencil or pen. Many electronic voting machines produce a paper trail on a strip of paper, like that of an ATM or cash register. Most of us would not consider this to be a paper ballot, but it is considered a "paper ballot" by H.R. 811.

However, most of these "ballots" are never counted. Instead the voting
machines totals of the electronic ballots are used. The paper strips are used only if there is an audit or recount. Calling this a "paper ballots bill" is misleading.
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Recent developments - Secretary Bowen's findings

Secretary of State Debra Bowen commissioned a Top-To-Bottom Review of California voting systems. The findings included:

  • There are attacks which will work on electronic voting machines despite the presence of a voter verified paper audit trail.
  • It was easy to bypass the physical security measures installed by the vendors, such as tamper evident seals, without any trace of tampering.
  • Malicious code planted on Sequoia or Diebold electronic voting machine could infect the central tabulator and change the entire election.

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Jerry Berkman has been active in the Election Integrity movement since the 2004 election. He helped organize the grassroots support for the campaign of Debra Bowen to be California Secretary of State. Jerry retired in May, 2005 after working for 35 years as a computer programmer, the last 30 at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned a (more...)

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The Holt Bill, H.R. 811, and the "poll"