July 29, 2005 – Advocates for disabled people came together with proponents of verifiable voting methods in Pasadena, California yesterday to call on federal officials to mandate that all state voting machines be accessible and produce a paper trail.
The action came in conjunction with a US Election Assistance Commission hearing on proposed guidelines to comply with federal voting standards under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), a 2002 law designed to ensure that advancing technology does not inhibit voters from equal access to balloting.
David L. Dill, founder of the Verified Voting Foundation, a nonprofit advocate for certifiable ballot accuracy which has partnered with disability advocates, testified before the Assistance Commission yesterday on problems with implementing electronic voting systems. Dill pointed to what he considers flaws in the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, Commission rules designed to bring state voting into compliance with HAVA provisions.
Dill and disability rights activist Shawn Casey Oâ€™Brien issued a joint statement demanding that the Guidelines be changed to mandate accessible, voter-verified paper records of balloting. In addition, the two â€“ who served together on a California commission that designed and implemented the nationâ€™s first voter-verified touch screen balloting system â€“ called on California State officials to continue with efforts to ensure that accessibility and voter-verified balloting advance in the state.
Oâ€™Brien stated that if governments demand the technology and are willing to pay for it, companies will develop it.
"If the Secretary of State mandates that California spend its hundred million on voting equipment that is both accessible and verifiable, then voting technology manufacturers will come up with the technology to get their piece of that very expensive pie," Oâ€™Brien said.
According to Dillâ€™s prepared Election Assistance Commission testimony, paper ballots remain the only way in which voters can be positive that their vote was cast properly. He also noted that the proposed two year deadline for implementing the Guidelines is too short a time period, forcing compromises in order to create a "quick fix."
"Unfortunately, the draft guidelines are totally inadequate to provide us with trustworthy election results," Dill told the EAC. "Under these guidelines, voting technology can and will be certified that can be completely subverted, undetectably, by small groups of people. Consequently, election results cannot be trusted even when conducted by the most competent election officials using the best possible election procedures."