Analysis: Vote Tabulation Audit Act of 2006 (HR 6414)

Opinion by Kathy Dopp

This is the bill Rep. Holt introduced in early Dec. of 2006.

I read this bill and although it has some good points, I can't figure out why Holt calls it "Vote Tabulation Audit Act of 2006" because it certainly requires no independent audit of vote count accuracy.

Its GOOD POINTS are that it:
- requires states to make public their ballot security procedures
- funds only optical scan paper ballot systems to meet its requirements
- might be "pass-able"
- requires precinct-level Election Day vote counts to be publicly posted at the precinct after polls close and before ballots are moved to central count location

- would allow the public to have oversight to eliminate central count tabulation tampering

- it does nothing to ensure that vote counts are not miscounted at the precincts
- it is not software-independent and it is not an independent audit because hand-counts are only performed only in particular precincts where discrepancies are discovered between the two machine counts (the counts at the precinct and the totals at the central count location)

- a procedure like this is easily subverted by election fraudsters
- the integrity of the machine counts are never checked with manual counts
- it allows aggregation of early, provisional, and absentee vote counts into one pile and does not require that they be broken out by precinct or by machine
- it allows aggregation of election day counts by precinct and does not require separate machine counts that would be needed to verify any independent audits

While this bill would be a step forward, to put the word "Audit" in its title is disengenuous at best because it does nothing to ensure the integrity of election outcomes, but I certainly would not campaign against this bill because it does provide funds to replace DREs with optical scan machines or require jurisdictions with DREs to spend their own nickel to purchase devices for doing precinct tallies and requiring precinct tallies on election day at the polls is a good thing.

It is unfortunate that the Holt office refuses to return my phone calls or emails and instead consults with folks who are much less competent in the arena of election auditing. However, perhaps this is
the only measure that Holt thinks he can pass and it is certainly a good step to fund the replacement of DRE voting systems and require precinct counts.