Friday, May 25, 2007

Utah - Down With HR811

So Congress is kicking around the idea of making elections more accountable/accurate/we might have a chance of actually finding out who won. The House version, HR 811 was the subject of criticism from every one's favorite media outlet, the Deseret News. Now when I read this article, the rebuttal that kept popping into my head was simply "ya, but don't we want accurate elections?" Maybe I'm just not getting what the problem is with this bill, but isn't that the goal, knowing who got elected without any doubt, and being able to double check if there is some doubt?

Argument against the bill number one, it will cost a lot of money and slow ballot counting.

In Utah County, where small glitches interrupted the election process last November, election officials are saying the proposed change to a scannable paper ballot would be disastrous.
"We've literally spent millions of dollars to implement this machinery, and it was all accurate," said Sandy Hoffman, Utah County elections coordinator. "If they forced us to use a scanned ballot it would take us forever and the press would maybe not even get election results on election night, it would take that long."

Just because you've spent a lot of money on something, doesn't make it better than all other alternatives, and I like watching the news on election night as much anyone, but I'd rather the results constantly scrolling across the tv screen be accurate than immediate (and I find it hard to believe that it would take that much more time).

Argument number 2
"Change to a new voting system would actually erode voter confidence in the election process," the resolution states.

I just can't follow the logic on this one, it's equivalent to saying that if car manufacturers changed the way seat belts worked to make them safer, people would stop trusting seat belts. I don't think that's the way it would happen, I think people would just want the safer seat belts, and not trust the old, not as safe, seat belts. Which may very well be election officials concern with admitting that the system they have now doesn't guarantee against you flying through the windshield, electorally speaking.

And finally, Joe Demma, the chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, says that nothing bad has happened here yet, so why should we worry. What's a potential problem if it didn't happen last election.
"I don't want Utah to be punished because Florida cannot run an election," Demma said.

This is the exact reason that I disagree with the little plastic things you put in outlets to keep babies from electrocuting themselves. It hasn't happened in my house yet, so I can be sure I don't need to protect against it.

All of this leads me back to "ya, but don't we want accurate elections?" I'm sure there would be complications, and barriers to overcome with enhancing a voting system to make it more accurate, I'm not even saying it would be easy, but isn't that what we should be doing, without complaint? Without accuracy in our electoral process we can't call ourselves a democracy, we could just as easily select our government officials the way they pick lottery numbers, ping pong ball randomness, at least we'd know the results right away when we were watching tv on election night.

On a how's my Representative doing on this one note, this bill has 216 co-sponsorers in the house, Jim Mattheson is the only one from Utah, Chris Cannon and Rob Bishop either haven't heard of the bill, or are themselves against electoral integrity. And for all you Colbert Report fans out there, it looks like number one on this weeks Utah Threatdown is, wait for it, that's right, Bears!


  1. Is this a done deal? Can we still do anything about this, or is it already set in stone?

  2. I wouldn't say it's a done deal by any means. The government officials in Davis County and the state of Utah are voicing their concern to the National government over a bill that, to me at least, makes a lot of sense. Their reasoning doesn't hold much weight in comparison to what the ultimate goal of the bill is. We can let them know that, and you can let your national representatives know that you support the bill.

  3. Craig is right.

    For more information about HR811 and rebuttals to some misinformation being told about it, please see these articles
    HR 811: Separating Truth From Fiction in E-voting Reform


    Important Facts about "HR811 - Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act"


    Support Clean Elections in 2008 - Support HR811

    In Utah it is urgent to call your county commissioners and tell them you support HR811 because the Utah Association of Counties Legislative Coordinating Committee is spreading disinformation about it and trying to get counties to sign resolutions opposing HR811.

    Kathy Dopp