Hay Bright calls for paper ballots in federal elections
November 4, 2006
In a few minutes I will participate in one of the most important processes
in any democracy - I will cast my vote. I will do so on a paper ballot,
which will be counted by hand after the close of elections next Tuesday.
Paper ballots are the norm in Maine. We have no touch-screen voting
machines, although we do have some counting machines. So we are highly
confident that the outcome of elections all across Maine will actually
reflect the intent of the voters who cast those ballots.
The same cannot be said across the country, where people cast votes
on computerized machines which have no paper verification trail, no
way to audit the authenticity of the vote, and no way to guarantee
that the results actually reflect the intent of the voters who cast
This situation is absolutely unacceptable in our democracy. If the
integrity of the voting process cannot be guaranteed, then democracy
itself is lost.
We must assure this process is accurate. And the only way to do that
is by using paper ballots for all voting.
In Maine, as I said, we have paper ballots, counted only by people
or by counting machines. I have suggested to several legislators and
legislative candidates, and to the Secretary of State himself, that
Maine should have a law which validates only people-counted ballots.
Machine counts, in my opinion, should give us preliminary numbers,
not official ones. Preliminary, since we can get a quick idea of who
won the election. But the official count should be those same ballots
counted by hand, by people, either late on election night, or the
next day, until the process is done. Occasional audits of counting
machines, in my opinion, is not enough.
But this is a state issue, one that I will have no direct bearing
on, should I become the next U.S. Senator from the great state of
However, as that next U.S. Senator, I am prepared to present a bill
that calls for standardized paper ballots for all federal offices
- President, U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress - all across the country.
States would be free to use touch screen voting machines or other
mechanical equipment for state and local races, as they wish, but
votes for federal offices would be on paper ballots, counted by hand.
Federal officeholders - two senators and however many Congressmen
from each state - pass legislation which affects the entire nation.
So it is reasonable that the process to elect those federal officeholders
be standardized across the country.
In that regard, beyond paper ballots for federal offices, I would
also like to see standardized voter registration rules, and standardized
voting laws, for voting in those federal elections. At the moment,
different states have different requirements and deadlines, for registering
people to vote, for casting provisional ballots, for purging voters
from registration lists. In Maine, people can register to vote on
election day, and vote immediately. Other states require people to
register weeks or months before the election. Some states, such as
Maine, allow felons to vote, others, like Florida, do not.
We have been telling people this entire campaign to Vote for the America
You Want to Live In. For that to work, for their votes to count, they
must be counted accurately. I will do everything in my power, as Maineís
next U.S. Senator, to assure the validity and accuracy of that vote.