Holt Introduces Emergency Election Audit Bill for 2008 Elections

July 31, 2008

By U.S. Representative Rush Holt Media Release   Legislation Would Reimburse States for Conducting Audits

U.S. Rep Rush Holt (D-NJ) today introduced legislation to encourage states to conduct hand-counted audits for the 2008 elections. The bill is a version of emergency legislation that Holt offered earlier this year, but that House Republicans blocked from passage.

“Electronic voting notoriously can lead to disputes and uncertainties. While many states have set in place requirements for a paper ballot or record for every vote cast, we need to do more. We also need to give states the resources to conduct audits to insure that vote totals and paper ballots match,” Holt said.

The bill would authorize funding for states that conduct audits that meet basic minimum requirements, including the use of a random selection, the requirement that audits be conducted with independence, at least a 2 percent audit sample, and public observation. All ballots must be included in the audit and they must begin within 48 hours and be completed prior to certification of the result. Only about a dozen states currently conduct audits.

According to a 2007 report by the Brennan Center for Justice, “[t]he widespread adoption of voter-verifiable paper records does not . . . resolve the security, reliability, and verifiability issues with electronic voting . . . .Paper records will not prevent programming errors, software bugs or the introduction of malicious software into voting systems. If paper is to have any real security value, it must be used to check, or ‘audit,’ the voting system’s electronic records.”

The New York Times, citing that report, recently editorialized that “States…need strong audit laws to ensure that machine totals are vigilantly checked against the paper records. That is the only way that voters will be able to trust electronic voting.”