Monday, September 22, 2008
MICA: OPPOSES PAPER TRAIL FOR ELECTIONS -- "DUH," INDEED!
[Congressional Record: April 15, 2008 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE FOR SECURE ELECTIONS ACT OF 2008
Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the
rules and pass the bill (H.R. 5036) to direct the Administrator of
General Services to reimburse certain jurisdictions for the costs of
obtaining paper ballot voting systems for the general elections for
Federal office to be held in November 2008, to reimburse jurisdictions
for the costs incurred in conducting audits or hand counting of the
results of the general elections for Federal office to be held in
November 2008, and for other purposes, as amended.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Emergency Assistance for
Secure Elections Act of 2008''.
Mr. EHLERS. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes to the
distinguished gentleman from Florida, who has considerable voting
experience, Mr. Mica.
Mr. MICA. I want to thank Ranking Member Ehlers and others for
working on this bill.
I join in opposition to the legislation. First of all, let me say, my
colleagues, there's nothing more important than the integrity of the
election process in the United States and confidence that all Americans
would have in making certain our system of election is secure.
But let me tell you, folks, this is compounding error and mistake
Congress made, and here it is on Tax Day, 2008, that we're going to
commit another two-thirds of a billion dollar mistake.
I sat on House Administration that oversees elections. I was there in
2000 when we had the problems in Florida with the hanging chads. We've
all heard of the hanging chads. And everybody rushed here, and every
vote's got to count; we've got to spend taxpayer dollars and make sure
that every vote is counted; and we're going to put in a system, and we
have to make it look like we're doing something to make certain that
Now, we listened to the witnesses and they came before House
Administration and they told folks that an electronic voting system,
which would cost billions of dollars to implement, would have the
possibility of error and just about the same percentage of error if you
choose a lever, if you use a hanging chad ballot, if you use optical
scan, if you use a paper ballot. And you can mess up any of those
They told us. And then everybody rushed down. They voted it out of
committee. We passed it. We spent $2 billion or $3 billion to put in
place a system that they told us, well, somebody can pull the plug, the
electronic thing doesn't work. Duh. Somebody can come up with some sort
of electronic device. Even one of these might set it off and you might
get some results.
They told us there might be errors, and they told us they didn't have
a paper trail. Duh.
So here we are putting in place the system. On Tax Day, spend another
two-thirds of a billion dollars. Keep working out there, Americans.
Send it here because they'll spend it in some dumb fashion, and this
Now, we do want the system to work, but there are errors in
everything. You heard them talking about the scan.
I went down and sat all night and watched the scan voting. It's
simple. You just take a pen and you fill in the space. My God, I
couldn't believe, hundreds of people, they put X's all the way around,
they circled optical scan. They could screw up any kind of a ballot. A
paper ballot. Actually I'm told that the old levers are probably the
best, that we took out for $2 billion or $3 billion worth of hard-
earned taxpayer dollars and replaced with these electronic machines
which now we're coming to correct. But they still have the same rate of
I guess it never stops around here. But here we are again spending
that money on another whim. But we'll do it.