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2005 Municipal resolutions pro paper ballots

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Voting Forum October 2005
Voting Integrity Forum, June 2005

The Coalition for Voting Integrity invites Bucks County municipalities to join the Doylestown, Plumstead, Buckingham, Tinicum, New Britain, Lower Makefield, Upper Makefield, Milford, Springfield, East Rockhill, West Rockhill, Hilltown, Lower Southampton, and Middletown Township Boards of Supervisors, as well as Sellersville Borough Council, Doylestown Borough Council, Yardley Borough, Newtown Borough, New Hope Borough, the Bucks County Association of Township Officials, and seven former Bucks County Commissioners, and pass a resolution including the following concepts:

 

The _________________ Board of Supervisors fully supports the immediate passage of Senator Conti's Senate Bill 977 and Assemblyman Frankel's House Bill 2000, which call for voter-verified paper ballots and mandated random manual audits of these voter-verified paper ballots to act as a check on the electronic machine numbers.

 

In addition, we call upon the Bucks County Commissioners to rent or purchase a voting system that meets these bills' standards, namely, voter-verified paper ballots which are the official record of the vote and are kept for random audit and recount purposes.

 

Resolution* passed by Doylestown Township Board of Supervisors

 

Resolution* passed by Plumstead Township Board of Supervisors

 

Resolution passed by New Hope Borough Council

 

A resolution backed by seven former Bucks County Commissioners supporting voter-verified paper ballots and routine random manual audits was offered to the current Commissioners at their meeting on Dec. 21, 2005. 

 

The Bucks County Association of Township Officials, at its meeting on February 18, 2006, passed a resolution supporting the immediate passage of Senate Bill 977 and House Bill 2000, which call for Voter-Verified Paper Records and mandatory random audits. The resolution also asked the Bucks County Commissioners to choose a voting system that is based on a Voter-Verified Paper Ballot.

 

*These resolutions refer to two machines having been certified. There are now seven machines certified for use in Pennsylvania as of 1/6/06: five direct recording electronic voting machines, none of which have a voter-verified paper trail, and a precinct count optical scanner and a central count optical scanner, both of which read and count a voter-verified paper ballot.

Background offered by Madeline Rawley when introducing the draft resolution above to the Doylestown Township Supervisors on behalf of the Coalition:

 

As I am sure you are aware, the November 8th election was the last time that we will be voting on the trusty old lever machines. In 2002, the federal government passed a law, the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA for short, in an attempt to fix the problems of the  hanging and pregnant chads of the 2000 election. In addition to the infamous punch card system, HAVA also said that lever machines need to be replaced by January 1, 2006, because they do not produce a “manual audit capacity,” which the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) interprets as a paper record trail for use in audits and recounts. The State of Pennsylvania is currently testing and certifying voting systems to create a list of approved voting machines that the counties may purchase. [The state has since ruled that counties need only pass a resolution to commit funds in order to meet the deadline.]

 

In the state legislature, currently two bills have been introduced which mandate that any voting system must have a voter-verified paper record and that a random manual audit of those voter-verified paper records be done on 5% of the machines used in an election. These voter-verified paper record and audit bills have already been passed in twenty-five states and proposed in all but ten states, in response to a recognition all across the country of the unreliability of  paperless electronic voting machines as demonstrated in thousands of incidents across the country in the 2004 election, including three counties in Pennsylvania where the touch screen machine used, when retested, did not register one out of twenty touches, and was subsequently decertified for use in Pennsylvania.

 

 In response to the reports of lost and miscounted votes on electronic machines nationwide, congressmen requested the Government Accountability Office to investigate electronic voting.  In a 105-page report, issued in September 2005, the GAO said that key actions need to be completed before the electorate could feel that electronic machines were secure and reliable. (Highlights of the report and a link to the full text are available on the CVI website, www.CoalitionforVotingIntegrity.org.)

 

As noted earlier, there are presently two bills in the state legislature, one introduced by our Senator Conti, SB 977, and another in the House, HB 2000, introduced by Representative Frankel, which ask for voter-verified paper ballots and mandated audits as a check on the electronic machines.

 

We are requesting that the Council pass a resolution supporting the immediate passage of the voter-verified paper ballot and random manual audit bills and calling for the County Commissioners to purchase a voting system that meets these bills' standards. We would like a copy of  the resolution sent  to Governor Edward Rendell, Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, State Election Director Harry van Sickle, Senator Joseph Conti, Assemblymen Charles McIlhinney and Paul Clymer, and our three Bucks County Commissioners, Charles Martin, James Cawley, and Sandra Miller.

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