On Capitol Hill Thursday, about 60 citizens wearing "Got Paper?" t-shirts attended a packed hearing on H.R. 550, a bill introduced by Representative Rush Holt with 218 bipartisan co-sponsors that would require all electronic voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper record. This paper trail would be utilized for mandated manual audits that would increase the reliability of our democratic process.
"The last six years have brought us example after example of the problems caused by unverifiable voting machines," Holt said in a released statement. "There is legitimate cause for the current crisis in voter confidence, yet Congress has done nothing to make election results auditable."
Dr. Edward Felten, Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, demonstrated the ease by which a Diebold machine could be hacked in order to change the outcome of an election.
But opponents to the bill – such as Republican Representative John "My name says it all" Doolittle – pointed to a recent recount in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which showed problems with 10 percent of the paper receipts.
Barbara Simmons of the Association for Computing Machinery countered that the Cuyahoga problem occurred because "the voting machine companies came out with… the cheapest way to do it. It's bad technology. We need to hold vendors to high standards."
Holt was dismayed that the bill didn't receive a hearing until the day before Congress was scheduled to adjourn. He called on Speaker Dennis Hastert to bring it to the House floor for an up-or-down vote immediately.
"We still have time to protect the integrity of this year's vote," Holt said. "But only if the House acts before the October recess."
In this Doolittle Congress, don't count on it.