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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No Money for Switching to Paper Ballots...

say House Republics.

TRENTON, N.J. - Legislation sponsored by a New Jersey congressman that would have reimbursed states wanting to adopt voting safeguards before the November presidential election failed to win approval Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill, dubbed the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008, fell short of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass, even after clearing a House committee unanimously. The vote was 239-178 in favor, with all but two Democrats supporting it and all but 16 Republicans opposed.

The two Democrats who voted nay on H R 5036 were Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Nick Rahall. [I can't find an answer as to why Kucinich voted against it, but I'm assuming it didn't go far enough for him.] The 16 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill were Reps. Vern Buchanan, Steve Chabot, Tom Cole, Tom Davis, Charlie Dent, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart, Jim Gerlach, Dean Heller, Tim Murphy, Marilyn Musgrave, Jon Porter, Jim Ramstad, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chris Shays, and Chris Smith. [Good for them. Even a blind pig finds a truffle every now and then.]

The bill would have allowed states and jurisdictions to be reimbursed by the federal government for converting to a paper ballot system, offering emergency paper ballots or conducting audits by hand counts.

The measure was designed to ensure that every vote is properly counted. Voters in all or parts of 20 states including New Jersey now cast ballots electronically without backup paper verification, according to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J.

The bill would have provided reimbursements for states to provide voter-verified, audited balloting for the general election, but it would not have mandated standards for the states.

Republicans opposed the bill because of the cost. [No, they didn't, as the next two paragraphs show.]

The White House on Tuesday noted that a 2002 election reform act had authorized $3 billion to help states upgrade their voting systems, and that about one-third of that money was still available.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of the legislation at $685 million, but supporters said that applied only to a worst-case scenario where many states opted to change their systems. [See? One-third of three billion is one billion. One billion is MORE than 685 million. Ah, Republic math!]


I'm not surprised that Republics voted against helping states fund the switch to paper ballots. For many years, they have been on the wrong side of voter enfranchisement. Indeed, as conservative stalwart Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, famously said, the more they can suppress the vote, the better it is for their party.

The hopeful thing for the future is that almost every Democrat voted for the bill. So, once we have more Democrats in Congress, which we most assuredly will in 2009, I feel confident that we will get rid of the paperless voting machines once and for all.

The next step after that, of course, would be returning our franchise to the government instead of keeping it within the purview of private corporations. Oregon votes by mail, and it seems to work quite well. I don't see why Americans all over the country couldn't do the same thing, or some variation thereof.

Of course, that would mean the Republic owners of the voting machine companies, like ES&S, Sequoia and Diebold, would lose their businesses. But hey - that's the free market, guys. If no one wants your product, you lose!

Wouldn't it be lovely if for once, rich Republics had to actually compete in their so-called free market, instead of being able to game the system with no-bid contracts?

Ah, hope is the thing with feathers...

1 comment:

Southern Beale said...

For many years, they have been on the wrong side of voter enfranchisement.

Around here, the Republics always hark back to some dead Democrats voting in Chicago like, 40 years ago or something. That's their big statement on the voter fraud issue.