Statement of Common Cause President Chellie Pingree: Congress must pass federal legislation to safeguard elections

Statement of Common Cause President Chellie Pingree: Congress must pass federal legislation to safeguard elections

Today the House committees on Science and Administration will review the Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) Voluntary Voting System Guidelines for our nation’s voting systems. That may be a tiny step toward improving our electronic voting systems. But it is not enough. In fact, far from it.

The EAC’s Voluntary Voting System Guidelines must be strengthened and include the requirement that all voting systems produce voter-verifiable paper records subject to automatic, random, routine audits. Without voter-verifiable paper records and random routine audits, our voting systems are vulnerable to mechanical malfunction and security threats. The voluntary voting system guidelines have simply been ineffective in stopping preventable voting system problems.

Voting systems that have been certified by independent testing authorities following the voluntary voting system guidelines have broken down, lost thousands of votes and thrown elections into turmoil. In a number of these cases, there have been no paper records to serve as a back up. Furthermore, numerous studies by expert computer scientists have shown that voting machines certified by independent testing authorities have serious security defects and are vulnerable to attack.

Therefore, we also strongly urge Congress to quickly pass HR 550, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005, sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), which already has the support of nearly 200 bipartisan House members. This legislation would mandate that voting systems produce voter verifiable paper records and that election officials audit these records.

Only thirteen states in this country require their voting systems to produce voter verifiable paper records subject to automatic, routine audits. The rest of the states are vulnerable to compromised elections. That’s not acceptable for our democracy.