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Letters to the NYTimes pro-Holt editorial of May 16th

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Message the web
May 21, 2007
A Paper Trail for Electronic Voting (4 Letters)

To the Editor:

Re ³The Unkept Promise on Voting² (editorial, May 16):

Thank you for your editorial endorsing my legislation that would require
electronic voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper ballot. As you
note, a paper ballot for every vote cast is fundamental to ensuring that
election results are accurate and can be verified independently.

That is why a majority of states have already acted on their own to require
independent verifiability of election results, including New York. Only six
states are left that would be required to completely overhaul their
paperless electronic systems by November 2008 to meet the bill¹s
requirements, and only 14 more would have to make modifications in certain
counties by then.

The remainder of the states are either already fully compliant or would not
have to make upgrades until 2010.

This flexibility was included to accommodate the concerns of some state
election officials who previously worried that the timeline was too
ambitious, while still ensuring that every election in November 2008 will be
independently verifiable and auditable. Only that way, as you state, will we
be able to ensure that there will be no more ³questionable election

Every state that would be required to make changes before November 2008 has
more than enough time to do so. For example, New Mexico, Nevada, North
Carolina and Idaho each converted to verifiable voting systems in eight
months or less, without negatively affecting the orderly conduct of

Rush Holt
Member of Congress, 12th Dist., N.J.
Washington, May 16, 2007

To the Editor:

Your editorial endorses a solution that is little better than the status quo
to the problem of electronic voting machines. It is unreasonable to expect
that voters will review a paper printout to see that it matches what was
entered on the screen, and if they try, lines will grow even longer.

Paper records that cannot be machine-counted will impede recounts. The
optical scan systems make the ballot that the voter marks the absolute
reference, not a secondary one. They allow for rapid and accurate recounts.

In addition, these systems are appreciably less expensive than the
electronic systems, and so allow communities to buy enough machines to speed
the voting process and avoid the long lines that disenfranchise working

There is simply no reason for electronic voting machines to exist in any
form, with or without paper trails.

David Cane
Cambridge, Mass., May 16, 2007

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