Congress must act fast to address looming national emergency

The introduction today of legislation by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) to address the fact that voters in 19 states (including the District of Columbia) must cast their ballots on machines that cannot be recounted or audited is a critical first step in addressing what could be nothing short of a national emergency around the presidential election.

“We’re less than 10 months away from a presidential election in which millions of people will cast their votes on paperless voting machines,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “We know these machines malfunction. We know they have proven security problems. Congress must move swiftly to address the problem because we simply cannot afford another national election in which votes can’t be recounted and people don’t trust results.”

Nineteen states currently use voting machines that do not produce a paper record that the voter has verified. These states are: Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Holt’s legislation would provide funding for these 19 states to make changes to their voting equipment so that a recount or audit will be possible in time for the November general election. The legislation also provides funding for states to conduct audits, which are critical to voting machines security. Even machines that produce paper records must be audited. “Machines, as we know, break down, fail, and have software bugs. It is critical therefore, that these machines be audited so that a miscount can be detected,” Edgar said.