Twenty-one states have passed laws requiring voter-verified paper ballots. Such legislation has passed but awaits governor's action in three additional states; legislation is pending in another 14 and the District of Columbia.
Paperless electronic voting machines were widely adopted by states and counties as a solution to problems in the 2000 presidential election. However, the machines caused a number of problems in 2002 and 2004—including in Florida, where 35 percent of precincts lost votes or tallied more votes than voters; Maryland, where touch screen machines froze when voters pushed the “Cast Ballot” button; Indiana, where vote totals and number of voters disagreed. A grassroots movement criticized the machines for making recounting and verification of ballots impossible, and began pressing for paper ballots. (See “Safeguarding the Vote,” YES! Summer 2003.)
That movement is now showing results. Before 2003, only New Hampshire and South Dakota required paper ballots.
At the federal level, Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, reintroduced his bill from last year as H.R. 550, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005; the bill has 143 cosponsors. Republican Representative Jim Gibbons of Nevada introduced the Voting Integrity and Verification Act of 2005. Both amend the Help America Vote Act to require voter-verified paper ballots and are endorsed by Verified Voting, the organization founded by Stanford computer scientist David Dill, which has been in the lead on electronic voting issues.
Doug Pibel is a YES! contributing editor. For more on electronic voting, see YES! Summer 2003, Fall 2003, and Winter 2004, and senior editor Carolyn McConnell's blog