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Why we need a voter verified paper ballot

Thanks, Kathy!  It's true: voters in New Jersey are still very worried about our elections.

There are no electronic voting machines used in New Jersey that provide a voter-verified paper ballot that can be recounted or used as a final count in the case of machine failure.  Without a paper ballot, there is no way for our voting machines to be reliably audited.  

Assurances by election officials to the contrary, we in New Jersey are now voting in what amounts to privatized elections.  The recording of votes is done in secret.  The storage of votes is done in the dark.  And the counting of votes is a private affair, conducted and overseen by voting machine companies who may place other interests above those of voters, democracy and the common good.

Who is at the heart of this problem?  We might never know, but we do know that the vast right-wing conspiracy (to borrow a phrase) would like to keep elections running without a paper trail.  An op-ed piece in the Houston Chronicle the other day

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/editorial/outlook/3246867

makes this abundantly clear.  Check the source on this.  Look into who these people are and what their agenda is:

http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Pacific_Research_Institute

Then think about whether it's your agenda, and whether you would trust these people with your vote.

Here in New Jersey, despite the best intentions of legislators, the passage of the voter-verified paper ballot bill (S29 and A33) does little to assuage our concerns.  The bill is a weak compromise that gives concessions to the attorney general's office and the voting machine companies, but does nothing to assure voters that their votes will in fact be counted as cast.

The bill gives the counties until 2008 to provide voters with a paper ballot.  Why?  Such technology is available now.  It's just that the state's favored vendor, Sequoia Pacific, has refused to provide it.

The bill also allows the state to waive the requirement for a paper ballot if the printers Sequoia has promised never materialize.  This has happened before, in Mercer County.

The bill also lacks any provision for a mandatory random audit of voting machines.  This is a gross oversight.

I believe that the motives of legislators were good in this instance but that the legislators have been misled by the attorney general's office and that the end product is hopelessly perverted.  Voters in New Jersey have now been virtually guaranteed that our elections for at least the next two years will be conducted in the dark.  We will not know if our voting machines have been tampered with.  We will not know if our voting machines work properly.  We will not know if our voting machines record, store or count our votes correctly.  The only thing we will know is that we don't know.  And that is no way to restore voter confidence.  That is no way to treat the citizens of New Jersey.

I know many people within DFA and other progressive organizations who share my concern about the conduct of elections in New Jersey.  We have all been waiting for Senator Corzine to show leadership on this issue and make election reform a centerpiece of his campaign for governor.  

Pam Barton,
Chair, NJ DFA Voting Task Force

by Pam Barton on July 01 at 2:17 PM EST


thanks for the comments

Congressman Holt, a Chair of the Corzine Connection, is very interested in voting reform across New Jersey and nationally.  

by Matt Stoller on July 01 at 5:38 PM EST
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