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Thursday, December 14, 2006

34 Election Reform Organizations Urge Congress to Require Paper Ballots

Responding to the electronic voting machine failures that marred the 2006 elections, 34 non-partisan election reform organizations launched a new campaign today urging Congress to enact legislation requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast. They expect this grassroots campaign to have broad public support and generate thousands of emails to the incoming Congress.

Many of the organizations have previously supported voter-verified paper audit trails (VVPAT), but now, like other citizens across the country, they recognize that electronic voting machines have been a national mistake.

"The e-voting machines are a threat to democracy. Putting a VVPAT on them is nothing more than a band-aid. It's like requiring a seat belt in a Ford Pinto. What good does it do when the Pinto explodes?" says Brad Friedman, who co-founded one of the organizations participating in the campaign.

The campaign has posted online an open letter to members of Congress.

The letter states: "In light of lessons learned during the 2006 primary and general elections -- with myriad contests resulting in uncertainty and thousands of voters in state after state turned away from the polls unable to cast a vote on DRE systems which failed throughout the day -- we now hold that a paper ballot, whether counted by optical-scan system or hand, is the minimum requirement for any Election Reform legislation in which voters may have confidence. Such a requirement is needed to help ensure Americans that every legally registered voter can vote, that every vote is recorded precisely as the voter intends, and that every vote is counted and, if necessary, re-counted accurately.

"This year's elections have made crystal clear that electronic voting machines caused massive disruptions, undermined the results of crucial elections, and forced thousands of voters to leave the polls without being able to exercise their franchise."

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