House panel vote is step toward more accessible and secure voting

The Committee on House Administration on Wednesday approved two vital measures that will help states safeguard voting machines in November’s general election and also ease administrative hurdles for voters who wish to vote by absentee ballot.

The Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008 (HR 5036) authorizes funding for states to purchase voting systems that produce voter verifiable paper records, to conduct audits on voting systems, and for states to print emergency paper ballots.

The Universal Right to Vote By Mail bill (HR 281) requires that all voters in federal elections be given the opportunity to vote by mail — often called absentee voting — without undue burden or loss of privacy. Currently, every state allows registered voters to vote by mail or absentee ballot, but many states put restrictions on that right. This legislation clarifies that voters may request the right to vote by absentee ballot without needing to give an “excuse.”

Common Cause has championed both measures since their introduction. “We’re about seven months from a critical presidential election and we should be doing all we can to address problems like this in our election systems,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “We commend those on the House Administration Committee who voted in support of these measures and urge the full House and Senate to follow suit to help ensure voting security and accessibility in November.”