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Public Statements

Verifying Official Totals for Elections Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I will introduce today the Verifying Official Totals for Elections Act, also known as the VOTE Act.

Electronic voting machines are vulnerable to poor design and tampering, and there is currently no way to verify the accuracy of an electronic vote count. The VOTE Act will ensure the integrity of our voting machines system by requiring any software used in an electronic voting system for any Federal election to be deposited in the National Software Reference Library. Depositing the software in the National Software Reference Library will allow the software to be available for review in the event of an election contest or recount.

The VOTE Act is definitely needed. We are 97 days away from a crucial election and, according to a recent report, half the States have inadequate post-audit election procedures for electronic voting machines. It also found that a quarter of States have post-audit election procedures that need improvement. Further, the report found that in every national election in the past decade, computerized voting systems have failed, machines did not start or failed in the middle of voting, memory cards could not read, and votes were mistallied.

I'm sure that you all who are computer literate out there have had a computer and you were working on it and suddenly it froze up.

In order to unfreeze it, you had to reboot it, and in the process, you lost all of your data that you were working on; or some of you may have had the misfortune of a computer hard drive just freezing up on you and just crashing, and you had to take it somewhere and try to retrieve your data off of that hard drive, and it cost a whole lot of money. You may have even manipulated your child's computer to prevent access to a dangerous Web site; or somebody may have installed, unbeknownst to you, some software on your laptop computer that you carry around so that one can keep track of your whereabouts.

These are the kinds of things that we must be concerned about as far as our electronic voting machines--their accuracy and the fact that they can be manipulated.

There have been several e-voting inaccuracies since 2006, including prominent controversies in South Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania. The VOTE Act provides peace of mind. It does so by requiring that the source code, or the blueprint, of the e-voting system be stored in the National Software Reference Library, which will allow auditors to compare that code with the actual machine to determine if there has been any improper activity.

This is an urgent problem, and the VOTE Act is the solution. The right to vote is fundamental to our democratic process, and it is protected by the Constitution of the United States. The right to vote is protected by more constitutional amendments--the First, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th--than is any other right we enjoy as Americans. Thus, it is vital to ensure the integrity of that vote. We must do everything in our power to ensure that every American who casts a vote in the upcoming election is counted.

I thank Common Cause, Florida Voting,, and the North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting for endorsing this bill.

I urge all of my colleagues to support the VOTE Act, and I invite Members from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, to cosponsor this bill. Protecting the vote and the integrity of the voting process is not a partisan issue, but an issue that is important to all citizens and vital to the strength of America.

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