Today House Republicans successfully blocked a bill from passing that would have encouraged states to hold verifiable elections by converting to a paper ballot voting system, offer emergency paper ballots, and conduct hand-counted audits. The bill titled the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008 fell short of the 2/3 needed for passage. The vote was 239-178 in favor.
The bill’s sponsor Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) didn’t understand why Republicans chose to make this a partisan issue. “There is no reason why this should be a partisan issue but the Republicans evidently have chosen to make it so. The White House issued a statement opposing the bill and 176 of 203 Republicans voted that way. What everyone should want is a national standard that would help ensure verifiable elections. We made this an even more modest bill to gain bipartisan support and pass quickly. It merely offers reimbursement to states that chose the option of auditable and audited elections; there is no mandate. Republicans are evidently unwilling to accept even this modest attempt to bring about verifiable elections.”
Republicans claimed that they opposed the bill because it was too expensive. A worst case scenario would have cost the federal government $685 million, but Holt pointed out that Republicans have no problem with paying for verifiable elections in other countries. “I’d like to ask the opponents how much spending is too much to have verifiable elections in the United States. I note that many people who opposed this legislation supported spending almost $330 million in recent years to provide election assistance in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. I would have hoped those who supported efforts to export democracy abroad would be equally committed to strengthening democracy here at home.”
Why don’t Republicans want American voters to have the same rights as those in Iraq and Afghanistan? Could it be because several Republican congressmen have financial interests in the electronic voting machine manufacturers? Maybe it is because the GOP seems to win every election that has ballot issues?
This is one of those petty election year moves that make the Republicans look like they don’t want fair elections. Votes such as this one only serve to fuel the imaginations of all the conspiracy theorists. Sadly, this isn’t a conspiracy. The House Republicans really are that callous towards the rights of American voters.
Statement from Rep. Holt: