Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Under-Reported: New Holt Bill Says Election Outcomes Could Be Confirmed With Hand Counts

After months of haggling with Congressman Rush Holt's office about some of the ambiguous language in both H.R.811 and the new voluntary bill, H.R.5036, I happened to notice this verbiage that somehow made its way into the new bill (emphasis added):

(1) IN GENERAL- A hand count conducted in accordance with this section is a count of all of the paper ballots on which votes were cast in the election (including paper ballot printouts verifiable by the voter at the time the vote is cast), including votes cast on an early, absentee, emergency, and provisional basis, which is conducted by hand to determine the winner of the election and is conducted without using electronic equipment or software.
The text of the bill can be found here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-5036

As far as I know, this is the first acknowledgment in any federal legislation that hand counts may actually be conducted to determine the TRUE WINNER of an election. And under this bill, Uncle Sam is supposed to pay for it.

This is a paradigm shift. Some of us have been fighting for language like this for over a year in connection with Holt's so-called election audits. Even the section that allows alternative sampling methods to be used does not say specifically that they should be used to determine who the winner of an election really is. That sort of thing (Congress actually judging the elections of its members, as required by the Constitution) never seemed to be on the table.

But now, for some reason, this election-outcome-confirming language has appeared in a piece of federal legislation, and it's Holt legislation at that! So I say, "Well done Congressman!"

Even if this is some kind of oversight, we should fight to keep this language in the bill so it won't be gutted in committee.

There are some loopholes in the bill, and the whole thing is voluntary anyway. But I think H.R.5036 is worth supporting, if for no other reason, based on the above language.

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