By Senator Feinstein Press Release
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) have introduced legislation to help ensure the accuracy of vote counts in federal elections and institute important new reforms in the administration of elections. Other cosponsors include Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Barack Obama (D-IL), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bernard Sanders (I-VT).
The Ballot Integrity Act of 2007 provides new safeguards to prevent errors and tampering at the polls, requires states to use voting systems with voter-verified paper records subject to public manual audits in the 2010 federal elections, takes steps to help increase the turnout in federal elections, and ensures that voters are not denied the right to vote by faulty purges of voting rolls.
“An accurate, reliable and transparent method to cast and count votes is fundamental to the democratic process. But we now have a patchwork of voting systems throughout the country, including five states -- Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and South Carolina -- that have no voter-verified paper records to help ensure the accuracy and reliability of the vote count and eleven others in which large sections of their states have no such paper records,” said Senator Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which oversees federal elections.
“Experts testified at a Rules Committee hearing that about 56 percent of the voting systems now distributed throughout the states use optical scanners. The advantage of this system is that you have an individual voter-verified paper record without having to rely on a separate printer or other mechanism that could be subject to jams. This is simple and direct. I believe this is the way to go. But for those states that seek to continue using direct recording electronic voting systems, there needs to be way for the voter to verify the vote and for the electronic tally to be audited. The Ballot Integrity Act provides these safeguards.”
In addition to requiring that direct recording electronic voting systems provide voter-verified paper records by the 2010 federal elections, the Ballot Integrity Act would also:
“As we developed this legislation and examined the time still needed to get it enacted into law, it became clear that we were rapidly approaching the deadline to prepare for the 2008 elections and there is insufficient time for states to invest in new technology. In fact, mandating that all states have voter-verified paper records and audits of these records for the 2008 election could be an invitation to chaos,” Senator Feinstein said. “Pushing the date back to the 2010 elections will give us more time to reach a bipartisan consensus with voting reform advocates and local and state officials to enact a new law that provides for increased accuracy and accountability at the polls without raising the specter of creating major new errors.”
Earlier this year, Senator Dodd introduced S.730, the Voting Opportunity and Technology Enhancement Rights Act and Senator Clinton introduced S.804, the Count Every Vote Act. Both bills will be considered in hearings by the Rules Committee next month along with the Ballot Integrity Act.
And earlier this month, the House Administration Committee approved legislation by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), which also requires voter-verified paper ballots and manual, public audits.
“Senator Dodd, Senator Clinton and Representative Holt have been working on these issues for several years and I appreciate their leadership and dedication,” Senator Feinstein said. “I look forward to working closely with them and the other cosponsors of this bill to bring the legislation forward.”
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
Ballot Integrity Act
May 24, 2007