FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Contact: Spence Jackson, (573) 751-4951
Blunt Announces Security Requirement for Electronic Voting Machines in Missouri
Secretary of State Says he will only Certify Voting Equipment that Produces a Paper Ballot
JEFFERSON CITY - Building on Missouri's successful efforts to improve the elections process, Secretary of State Matt Blunt announced today that he is requiring any Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems that may be purchased by local election officials to produce a voter verified paper ballot.
"We have worked hard over the past three years to ensure that our elections are above reproach and that Missouri voters have confidence in the process and most importantly, the results," Blunt said. "By requiring all DRE's to produce a voter verifiable ballot, we will provide voters with the peace of mind they deserve on Election Day by enabling them to review their ballots prior to casting them."
Blunt, Missouri's chief election official, said this requirement will enable voters to review their ballot before it is cast to ensure that it was marked as intended, and will give local officials access to actual ballots to conduct recounts if one is necessary or in the event the electronic equipment is damaged or malfunctions on Election Day. Because of delays associated with the revised testing standards at the federal level, it is highly unlikely that any DRE machines will be in use for any state elections in 2004.
The members of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) which was created through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), have not set the standards for the machines and few vendors have had their equipment reviewed and certified by an Independent Testing Authority (ITA) a prerequisite for certification in Missouri and in most other states. HAVA requires all polling places to have at least one disabled voter accessible DRE machine in every polling place in the country by Jan. 1, 2006.
Through HAVA legislation enacted in October 2002, Congress included authorization for $325 million to provide financial assistance to local jurisdictions using punch card voting equipment to replace the machines if they choose. Missouri has received $11.5 million for its 37 counties that use punch card voting systems. Any of the punch card buyout money that is unused by November 2006 must be returned to the federal government.
Since taking office in 2001, reforming Missouri elections has been Blunt's top legislative and administrative priority. In 2002, Blunt led the legislative effort to pass a landmark state election reform bill securing the support of a Republican controlled Senate and Democrat controlled House. The new law has made the ballot more accessible to registered voters than it has been at any other time in Missouri's history. At the same time there are now tougher anti-fraud provisions to combat those who attempt to manipulate the process.
Blunt led Missouri's prompt response to the changes mandated by the federal law ensuring our state's eligibility for up to $76 million in HAVA funding if the law is fully funded by Congress. He has also made changes at the administrative levels of his office to improve Missourians' confidence in the election process. Among them: appointing, for the first time in state history, a Republican and Democratic Director of Elections and using the administrative rules process to define what constitutes a vote under Missouri's three voting systems, a major source of controversy in the disputed November 2000 election in Florida.
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