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Public Statements

Issue Position: Verified Voting

Issue Position

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"[Holt] has attracted national attention as the leading congressional spokesman for mandating that electronic voting devices be equipped to provide a verifiable paper trail."
The Trenton Times, November 30, 2005

"The Holt bill, H.R. 550, is the gold standard for e-voting."
Verified Voting.org, February 17, 2005

"Every member of Congress who cares about American democracy should get behind Mr. Holt's bill."
The New York Times, June 10, 2005

Have you made your voice heard on this issue? SIGN THE H.R. 811 PETITION NOW! Coming Soon!

The federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was enacted in 2002 to help states improve the administration of elections and replace obsolete and unreliable voting machines. In response, local election agencies around the country rushed to purchase high-tech computer voting systems.

Unfortunately, many of the new machines are vulnerable to malfunctioning or even tampering that could change election results and that could be difficult if not impossible to detect. The concerns aren't coming from partisan sources. Nationally respected computer security experts not known for having an ideological agenda have taken the lead in bringing the issue to the public's attention. They assert that election results reported from electronic voting machines that don't offer a "voter verified paper trail" are inherently questionable, and impossible to independently confirm. Many of this nation's most renowned and reputable computer scientists have testified before Congress, the Commission of Federal Election Reform, the Election Assistance Commission, and other election reform forums about the risks of paperless e-voting and the need for voter verified paper records.

Compelling research demonstrates that paperless electronic voting machines simply cannot produce and independently verifiable record of votes cast. In February 2005, Rush Holt, someone with a great deal of experience in close elections, for the second time took action to address the risk this problem poses for our democracy. He reintroduced The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, H.R. 550, which among its almost 160 cosponsors has gained eight influential Republican Members of the House as co-sponsors.

The bill would require all voting machines to produce an actual paper record that voters can check to ensure the accuracy of their votes, and that election officials can use to verify the accuracy of the vote count in the event of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity. It would also call for a percentage of random audits in every state, and at least one in every County, as an automatic check on the reported results.

When Rush Holt first introduced this legislation in May of 2003, a mere handful of states required a paper record for each vote. Now, half of them do, and bills to mandate that security measure are pending in more than a dozen of the remaining states. In September 2005, the Carter Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform issued a recommendation for voter verified paper records, saying:

"Congress should pass a law requiring that all voting machines be equipped with a voter-verifiable paper audit trail and, consistent with HAVA, be fully accessible to voters with disabilities."

That same month, the Government Accountability Office issued a report confirming and documenting numerous risks, dangers and irregularities in connection with electronic voting, including the following -

* " . . . several evaluations demonstrated that election management systems did not encrypt the data files containing cast votes . . . . in some cases, other computer programs could access these cast vote files and alter them without the system recording this action in its audit logs."
* "Two reports documented how it might be possible to alter the ballot definition files on one model of DRE so that the votes shown on the touch screen for one candidate would actually be recorded and counted for a different candidate."
* " . . . a county in Pennsylvania made a ballot programming error on its DRE system [that] contributed to many votes not being captured correctly by the voting system, evidenced by that county's undervote percentage, which reached 80 percent in some precincts."
* " . . . California officials documented how a failure in a key component of their system led to polling place disruptions and an unknown number of disenfranchised voters."
* In a Florida County, "election monitors discovered that the system contained a flaw that allowed one DRE system's ballots to be added to the canvas totals multiple times without being detected."
* " . . . a DRE system in Ohio caused the system to record approximately 3,900 votes too many for one presidential candidate in the 2004 general election."

The GAO concluded that, "the root cause [of some of the foregoing irregularities] was not known in all cases" and in addition that "when voting machines [in a particular state] malfunctioned and started generating error messages during an election, state technicians were unable to diagnose and resolve the problems because the vendor's documentation provided no information about what the error messages meant, or how to fix the problems." The Report also quoted one independent testing authority (ITA) official as saying that its "testing does not guarantee that voting systems are secure and reliable."

Would you like to help pass critical legislation to address these unacceptable risks and establish a uniform national standard of independent auditability for voting in every state? Sign up now for email updates and return to this Web site for the latest information on relevant developments.

In the 2000 presidential election, it was hanging and pregnant chads in Florida that embarrassed this nation and cast a cloud over the results. In 2004, it was rampant suppression and nationwide reports of e-voting irregularities. With paperless electronic voting machines, we are not faced with "bad" evidence of voter intent, we are faced with NO evidence of voter intent. With paperless voting machines, there aren't any independent voter-verified records of the votes cast that could be examined by anyone seeking proof of accuracy of election results.

Rush Holt believes that the oldest democracy in the world can - and must - do better. He believes that nothing less than the dignity and greatness of our system of self-government depend on our passing The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act.

Make your vote count. Make every vote count. Stand up with Rush.


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