It appears that voting technology is a topic that the Republican leadership wants to tightly control. It is without doubt that Republicans own most of the companies that manufacture, sell, and service voting machines. And President Bush and the Republican Congress appear determined to control and limit oversight of the elections industry. The Bush Administration has stacked the Election Assistance Commission with supporters of paperless voting technology, while the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) got walloped with a $22 million budget cut in fiscal 2004, which means that NIST will have to cut back substantially on its cyber security work, as well as completely stop all work on voting technology for the Help America Vote Act.This ought to be a non-partisan issue. It's about democracy, and the people's right to have their choices recorded as accurately as possible.
With no mandatory federal standards or certification in place and no funding available, the Bush Administration and Republican-controlled Congress have ensured that their friends in the elections industry maintain control of voting technology and, in effect, election results.
So, at Friday's hearing, Republican members of the Commission of Civil Rights decided that the issue of voting - the lynchpin of democracy - should take a back seat to employee contract buyouts. ... And that's when the second big disappointment of the hearing became apparent. Some of America's largest civil rights organizations have lined up with the Republicans on this subject. They support 'paperless' voting technology. No fuss, no muss. ... Only one panelist at Friday's hearing spoke out against paperless elections, Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, one of the nation's leading experts on computer voting security. ... [A]t Friday's hearing Mercuri found herself the only panelist invited in to defend the voter's right to verify their own paper ballot. ... The hearing was a replay of many meetings this writer has attended on the subject of voting machines. The focus was on regaining the voters' trust and confidence in voting machines, while blaming poll workers for machine "glitches" and malfunctions, and blaming the public for not being computer savvy. The over-all request of the panelists was for increased education of poll workers and the public.
I plan on attending Verified Voting's April Lobby Days in Washington to do my part to raise a ruckus about this. Email me if you'd like to come down and help (or just go to VerifiedVoting.org and sign up on their lists and write letters to your congress-people).