Update on Paper Ballots in

Last spring, JSPAN reported on the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007, H.R. 811, introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ). The bill would ban paperless voting and require paper trails, so that if a very close election took place or if there was a question about how the election results were arrived at, all votes could be verified by the voters themselves, using the permanent paper record. It was expected that the bill would have enough support to be passed this year if voting reform was placed on the Congressional agenda. But nothing in Washington is obvious! The bill has met with strong concern from disability rights groups across the country because electronic voting machines offered many disabled Americans their first opportunity to vote independently. The available technology to make paper ballots accessible is not adequate, according to some disability groups. A compromise has been negotiated in the House which requires all electronic voting machines to include paper trails by 2008, but it allows the use of unreliable cash-register-style printers. By 2012, the bill would ban these more error-prone paper trails and require durable paper ballots. The bill would not ban electronic voting machines altogether, but it would make the paper ballots the vote of record and would also require manual audits to ensure accurate counts. Should JSPAN support the latest version of the Holt bill? As MoveOn.org Political Action has stated, "On the one hand, the compromise is imperfect. On the other, it's our only chance to make significant national progress before the 2008 election."