Holt’s paper trail bill still waiting

Twelth District Rep. Rush Holt said that his paper trail voting legislation will help solve the problems that local elections officials are worried about, but the bill still has not come up for a vote in Congress.

Last Thursday, The Trenton Times reported that Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes was concerned about preparing for the implementation of New Jersey’s own paper trail law, which takes effect on January 1, 2008, before he knew what federal guidelines would be. And last month, the New Jersey Institute of Technology wrote a report detailing dozens of problems with some current voting machines’ printers.

Holt, a Democrat, authored the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act back in 2003, but it languished under the Republican controlled congress. With a Democratic majority in place, Holt hoped that the bill would finally come up for a vote. The legislation would standardize paper trails and electronic voting machine requirements nationally by November, 2008.

“I think it highlights the need to implement it on a federal level,” said Holt. “We need to have some national standards, not only to drive the technology toward a more reliable technology, but also to avoid the reliance just on technology.”

But any hope of the bill seeing the light of day before a Congressional recess was most likely dashed yesterday, when a procedural brouhaha erupted between Republicans and Democrats over an agricultural funding bill. The early hours of today, Holt said, were spent by party leaders soothing tempers rather than voting on legislation on the house floor.

“There was a chance that it would come up this week. Now I think it’s more likely to come up as soon as we get back. I’ve had predictions before that haven’t panned out, but there’s pretty good reason to believe that it will come up in September,” said Holt.

Perhaps fittingly, the House of Representatives session was delayed this afternoon after its electronic voting system malfunctioned.

Holt’s paper trail bill still waiting