HR811: "An e-voting vendor's dream"

Long, but has an executive summary with details that follow

July 13, 2007
HR811: A Technoelection Dream with a Crippling Cost
By Nancy Tobi

Big ticket items unaccounted for in the HR811 technoelection bill

Executive Summary
HR811 is being sold to the American people as a “paper trail” bill. But 811 (aka the Holt Bill) is nothing more than an e-voting vendor’s dream. This bill cements the use of high tech, low democracy, equipment in our voting systems, protects the “rights” of private corporate interests to “count” our votes using proprietary, trade secret software, so that only they and the White House know how or if our votes are being counted at all.

HR811 , of which NH Congressman Paul Hodes is a sponsor, also has several big ticket items that have not been adequately budgeted for in its $1BIL appropriation. The costs of this bill to NH property tax payers will be unacceptably high, taking money from our cities and towns that could be used for other, more important things, rather than to support an e-voting industry that has proven itself time and again to be corrupt, and which, in any reasonable analysis, has no place in the running of democratic elections.

These costs are defined in detail below, but the summary is found here.

Removal of Safe Harbor
Wikipedia defines safe harbor as

“a provision of a statute or a regulation that reduces or eliminates a party’s liability under the law, on the condition that the party performed its actions in good faith. Legislators include safe-harbor provisions to protect legitimate or excusable violations. An example of safe harbor is performance of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment by a property purchasor: thus effecting due dilligence and a “safe harbor” outcome if future contamination is found caused by a prior owner.”

HR811, with its broad reaching and complex mandates for our state election systems, does not include any safe harbor language for its mandates. Unlike the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which it seeks to amend, the Holt Bill does not include a state planning process by which states can interpret the bill’s requirements. Additionally, it broadens citizen’s rights to sue a state for noncompliance.

Some folks may think this is a good thing, that we should be able to sue the pants off any electoral jurisdiction we feel is in violation of the law.

But the cost of lawsuits in electoral challenges is quite high both financially and in the incalculable costs to our democracy, as we all saw in Florida’s 2000 presidential election.

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