Voting bill still stalled

Legislation that would require touch-screen voting machines to generate a paper record of votes remains stalled in the House, even though it has attracted more than 100 co-sponsors and generated companion bills in the Senate.

The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003, which Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) introduced last year now has 118 co-sponsors, including eight republicans, said Jim Kapsis, Holt's spokesman. However, it still has no hearing date in the Committee on House Administration, chaired by Rep. Bob Ney (R.-Ohio).

"As we get closer to the election, it's going to be harder for the committee chair not to take it up," Kapsis said. Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) introduced a companion bill in the Senate in December, while senators Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) have introduced other legislation with the same general goal.

Touch screen machines, made by several companies, are becoming increasingly numerous as election officials buy them in hopes of averting problems such as the confusing ballots in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. However, some computer scientists believe the machines are subject to error and tampering.

Touch screen machines used in recent elections have had votes disappear from their counts, said David Dill, a professor computer science at Stanford University. In one case in 2002, more than 400 votes were lost, he said, and election officials were somehow able to determine which citizens' votes had disappeared. Officials contacted the voters to offer them a chance to revote.

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