Letter to Congress: Halt H.R. 811, Too Dangerous for Democracy

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Re: Halt H.R. 811, a Clear and Present Danger to Electoral Democracy

To the Honorable

I write in opposition to the Holt Bill, H.R. 811, which promises "increased voter confidence" but actually perpetuates secret vote-counting by computers while handing centralized control of federal elections to four White House appointees.

Because it requires a computerized text conversion device in every polling place, H.R. 811 would actually require electronic voting machines, compromising noncomputerized voting methods such as handcounted paper ballots.

For the same reason H.R. 811 would also rule out noncomputerized voter assistive devices that provide better accessiblity features at far less cost, while avoiding the unacceptable risks of secret, computerized vote-counting.

This unnecessary, unproven, as-yet nonexistent text converter device that H.R. 811 requires is a gift to the E-voting industry and an under-funded federal mandate that will impose huge cost burdens on the states.

H.R. 811 provides no means to enforce election laws that are being routinely violated. This hardly inspires "increased voter confidence" in elections.

Election auditing procedures in H.R. 811--which apply to post-election results rather than to the first count--are poorly conceived and inadequate to reliably detect electronic fraud or mistabulation. This inspires alarm, not confidence.

The EAC, created as a temporary advisory commission to implement HAVA, is in fact a federal executive commission that can at any time be converted into a federal regulatory agency by the insertion of a single line of text in any act of Congress.

Regulatory powers would enable the EAC to effectively bypass Congress and create law that preempts Constitutional state sovereignty in election administration. This would allow four White House appointees to determine:

* Which voting systems are approved for use in our elections
* Who counts the votes, and how votes are counted
* How recounts are conducted and outcomes decided

This is a clear and present danger to American democracy. Do not allow it! Reject H.R. 811!

True election reform that ensures, rather than threatens democratic foundations, requires

* Public ownership of any voting system
* Citizen oversight of all electoral processes
* State sovereignty in conducting elections

H.R. 811 is opposed by the National Association of Counties, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National Association of Secretaries of State because elections administrators in the 50 states understand the disastrous destabilizing effects H.R. 811 will have on U.S. elections. That's why they say NO to H.R. 811 -- and why you should too.


Customize your letter by adapting several of the following talking points or adding your own.

If you are writing a letter to the editor (LTE), the usual length limitation is about 250 words. The above letter is 308 words. The longest paragraph is 80 words, and the smallest, about 30. The average line contains 15 words, so subtracting 4 lines would yield a letter that would be within most LTE length limits.

I am especially upset because H.R. 811:

• Entrenches private E-voting vendors that have no business managing public elections

• Despite its backers' claims, H. R. 811 does not eliminate DREs

• Allows election technologies that threaten the secrecy of the ballot

• Perpetuates the pretense of a certification process that cannot possibly assure secure or reliable voting equipment

• Allows election reporting practices that expose election results to Internet manipulation

• Leaves the nation exposed to risk of undetectable, outcome-alterning mass vote fraud and illegitimate government

• Imposes mandates for unnecessary and unproven E-voting equipment at unmet cost to the states

• Sets impossible timelines for implementing complex technical mandates

• Centralizes control of elections under a permanent four-person board appointed by the president

• Erodes state sovereignty as a check on federal government power

• Maintains the unacceptable practice of electronic vote counting, a process inherently secret from the voters