Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Thursday, June 16
Electronic Voting Developments
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, to consider the issue of "voter verification" for electronic voting systems. The agenda is posted here. The panelists will be Ted Selker of MIT, L.A. County Registrar Conny McCormack, Jim Dickson of the American Association of People with Disabilities, and David Dill of Stanford. The hearing comes amid calls by some voting activists to enact the new version of the Holt Bill (H.R. 550), which would require electronic voting machines to generate a contemporaneous paper record.

At present, there are no standards in place for the contemporaneous paper record, as I noted in this comment. The most recent federal guidelines, which took effect in 2002, don't contain standards for these devices. However, EPIC has now posted on its website a draft of new standards, which it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. This draft includes proposed standards for the contemporaneous paper record, aka "voter verified paper audit trail." Though this device isn't required by federal law, the voluntary federal standards would provide guidance on what these devices should do, for states that choose to adopt them. These standards are to be considered by the Election Assistance Commission later this month.

Ohio is one of the states to have enacted laws requiring that electronic voting machines generate a contemporaneous paper record. Counties that are still using punch cards -- 68 in all -- must replace this equipment by the 2006 federal elections, and have the option of going to either precinct-count optical scan or electronic voting machines with a contemporaneous paper record. Secretary of State Blackwell issued a directive on April 14, requiring that counties choose their new voting system by May. That date has now been extended until September 15, as the result of a lawsuit in which 32 counties joined. The only electronic system that's certified and meets the paper trail requirement is one made by Diebold. It's possible, though not certain, that one other voting machine capable of generating a contemporaneous paper record (made by ES&S) will have been certified by September. For coverage of the most recent developments, see stories from the Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune, Lima News, and Demos.

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