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HR 811 (The Holt Bill): Time to put us out of its misery

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HR 811 has a long and controversial history. It is embraced primarily by well funded lobbyists, while the general citizenry, election officials, and activists oppose the bill. In the ultimate bait and switch, all carrots dangled in front of activists have been eaten up: full software disclosure is now full nondisclosure. Implementation on key aspects is moved from 2008 to 2010, effectively quashing the "Let's get it straight by 2008" bullshit campaign by MoveOn, Common Cause, VoteTrustUSA, PFAW and other large lobbyists pouring money into passage of this bill (and who is funding those guys anyway???).

Let's kill this thing and put us all out of its misery.

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Here is the text of the bill as reported out of Committee to the House:

People continue to ask, what can we do to make HR 811 work? We can continue to request amendment after amendment on the bill, but the reality is that the bill is so fatally flawed and the drafters of the bill are so intractable on critical issues, that it is my belief that the bill can not be salvaged, it must be killed, and a new bill introduced.

We the people have introduced alternate legislative language, which has been vetted by election officials and others, and we believe is workable and can bring necessary changes in time for 2008 without creating a destabilization of the nation’s election systems. This language may be found here (and appended at bottom of this document):

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And if you really want to go simple and to the point: why not just enact legislation that everyone can agree on: federal BUYOUT for all paperless DREs with the funding to go to paper ballot systems (not paper records) using opscams OR hand counts?

I have tirelessly submitted analysis on every iteration of the bill and I am now weary of this process. Congressman Holt’s office and others in Congress have paid no mind to the very real and serious objections we have to this legislation. Congressman Holt’s office has not acted in good faith to engage in any dialog regarding our concerns.

I, personally, have been informed by congressional staffers that the political “reality” on the Hill is such that Congressman Holt is regarded as “the leader in election reform on the hill” and that nobody will dare sponsor counter legislation to his. I have been informed that his bill is a moving train that will not be stopped.

My response to these remarks made to me by a congressional staffer is that this is not acceptable.

The matter of our democracy is not something to be dropped into the framework of any individual’s reputation, cult of personality, or otherwise. I don't care if Mr. Holt is a nice man, a good Christian, who his wife is, or how many coins he tosses to beggers on the DC sidewalks.

It is unacceptable to consider legislation of this import within the prism of how anyone “feels” about its sponsor. And frankly, I am tired of being told by congressional staffers that “they have heard from Holt’s office that the bill does x,y,z” as though they have not bothered to read the text before their eyes in black and white, just as I, an ordinary citizen, have taken the time to do.

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Our democracy deserves better than these kinds of lazy and irrelevant rationalizations for supporting HR 811.

It is the opinion of many reputable citizens and public officials alike that HR 811 is completely unworkable, if enacted will destabilize our state election systems, and contains many elements that are antithetical to the basic foundations of our democracy.

If Congressman Holt is indeed the only leader on the Hill then I respectfully submit his leadership in this area is sorely lacking in the area most important for building good legislation: consensus building.

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