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Iowa Adopts Statewide Paper Ballot System for November 2008 PDF  | Print |  Email
By Iowans for Voting Integrity   
April 01, 2008
Iowans for Voting Integrity applauded lawmakers, county election officials, Governor Culver, and Secretary of State Michael Mauro for working to adopt a statewide optical scan/paper ballot voting system in time for the November election. Governor Culver signed the legislation, Senate File 2347, today in a ceremony at the Capitol.

 “This is a big victory for Iowa's voters,”  said Iowans for Voting Integrity co-chair Sean Flaherty. “Every county will use the system that provides the most reliable record of voter intent.”

The transition will take place in the coming months. “When lawmakers and election officials work together, it is possible to make changes to voting systems both quickly and responsibly. I hope that other states are paying attention,” Flaherty said.

Senate File 2347 eliminates direct-recording electronic touch screen machines, and moves Iowa toward a universal system of voter-marked paper ballots read by optical scanners.  In 2006, almost 20% of Iowa's voters voted on touch screens. The touch screens have been the subject of intense scrutiny by computer scientists, and reviews by the Secretaries of State of California and Ohio have found severe security problems and found that “paper trail” printouts were not  enough to deter fraud or prevent error. 

About 30% of the nation's voters will use paperless electronic voting machines this November. “Iowa, and many states, are getting it right, but too many voters across the nation will use machines that don't allow a real recount, and that have huge security vulnerabilities, ” Flaherty said.

Most voters in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee and Texas will vote on paperless machines in November. Six states have statewide paperless electronic voting systems, including South Carolina and Georgia.  In all, over one dozen states will use paperless machines either partially or as the statewide system in November.
Iowa will only be the latest state to make voting system changes in a time frame of months. Many California's counties, including San Diego County, adopted optical scan systems in a six-month time frame after Secretary of State Debra Bowen issued a directive in August 2007. The counties successfully implemented paper ballot systems in the February 2008 primary. New Mexico adopted paper ballot systems quickly in 2006.
Federal legislation may help  states to make voting system changes this year. H.R. 5036, the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act, would offer counties or states money to buy paper ballot systems in time for November.  Iowa would also be reimbursed for the costs incurred by the new state law. The U.S. House may consider H.R. 5036 soon.

“We have over six months until the election, and it could not be more important to have a verifiable 2008 vote. We should all hope that Iowa is not the last state to do the smart thing in 2008.”
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