Voter Accessibility and Preservation of Source Code Protections Key to Election Reform

Mar 15, 2007




Thursday, March 15, 2007

Salley Collins, Press Secretary 
(202) 225-8281




 Voter Accessibility and Preservation of Source Code Protections Key to Election Reform

First Proceeding of Newly Formed Subcommittee on Elections Focuses on Voting Machine Accessibility and Software Protection 

WASHINGTON — Today, the newly formed Subcommittee on Elections, led by Chairwoman, Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Subcommittee Ranking Member, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., held its first hearing on election reform.  The hearing focused on voter verification standards for disabled voters, and the dangers of requiring direct recording electronic voting machine vendors to publicly provide their source codes.        

Witnesses testifying on voter verification standards for disabled voters cautioned against making changes to the current standards that were adopted as part the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA).  Mississippi Secretary of State, Eric Clark, pleaded, “Please don’t break something that is already working, and please, please don’t make us do something that we can’t afford.”  In his testimony to Subcommittee members, Clark expressed concerns with  the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) requirements proposed in H.R. 811, a bill introduced by Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J.  According to the Mississippi Secretary of State, more than 90% of Mississippi voters surveyed approve of the current electronic system in use.  When asked about the 2008 requirements in Holt’s bill, Clark stated, “There is no way under the sun that we can meet the requirements in H.R. 811.”

McCarthy also expressed concerns over the impact that VVPAT would have on disabled voters. In his opening statement McCarthy asked, “By accepting a new voting system, will we run into problems that we had before the Help America Vote Act?”

Another topic raised at the hearing was that of revealing the source code of direct recording electronic voting machines, in order to provide greater transparency into their inner workings.  Critics of such requirements say that doing so would create an even greater risk of fraud.  Hugh Gallagher with Election Systems Acquisition and Management Services, Inc., claimed that while transparency is a top priority, source codes should be reviewed by a third-party organization rather than releasing them to the general public and potential hackers.  

The Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on election auditing requirements Tuesday, March 20, 2007.

For more information, contact the Republican Committee press office at (202) 225-8281.