Voting Machine Vendors: Not So Fast

Posted July 17, 2007 at 6:14pm

Voting machine vendors have released a letter through their trade association urging the House to hold off on passing the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, arguing that some provisions are impossible to meet from a logistical and practical standpoint. [IMGCAP(1)]

The Electronic Technology Council has several problems with the bill, which would amend the Help America Vote Act passed in 2002. Of particular concern is a provision of the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act that would allow just 16 months for all voting machines to be equipped to provide an auditable paper trail. The ETC said meeting this requirement would take at least 54 months.

“These provisions constitute new product development, and, as such, would need 54 months for proper research, development and implementation,” the ETC said in a letter that was released Tuesday by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), the ranking member of the House Administration Committee.

Salley Collins, a spokeswoman for Ehlers at the committee, said voting machines in at least 15 states, as well as Washington, D.C., likely would be unable to upgrade in the required 16 months. The bill by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), passed out of the House Administration Committee on a party-line vote but has yet to be brought to the House floor.

Never Mind. A House Judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday reversed a procedural ruling made last week on comments by Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) that suggested President Bush was a liar.

At a hearing Thursday, Watt charged that Bush “lied” to Congress and the public about the reasons for going to war in Iraq. Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah) tried to get the words taken down, but Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairwoman Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) ruled that “while harsh,” Watt’s comment did not violate House Rules on decorum.

But after consulting with parliamentarians, Sánchez asked at a hearing Tuesday for unanimous consent to vacate her earlier ruling. Watt agreed to withdraw his comments and they were stricken from the record, and he clarified that he does not believe Bush is a liar.

“Some people have interpreted what I said to be that I said that the president of the United States is a liar,” Watt said, noting that the word “liar” is not in the transcript. He did, however, say the president “lied” about the war.

“The president is a personal friend of mine, and I don’t want anybody to get the impression that I think the president, in general terms, is a liar,” Watt said.

— David M. Drucker and Susan Davis