Senators Boxer and Clinton propose "Count Every Vote Act"

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) are proposing a new “Count Every Vote Act” – an amendment of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 – in response to perceived problems in the 2004 election. Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) is proposing a counterpart bill in the House. From Boxer’s press release, 2/18/05,

Full text of the Senate bill here: Section 327 allows voters to register on election day (for federal elections only). Section 701, “Civic Participation by Ex-Offenders,” says ex-felons will be able to vote (in federal elections only), regardless of state law disenfranchising them.

However, unlike Rep. Jesse Jackson’s proposed Voting Rights Amendment (, the Count Every Vote Act does not explicitly define voting as a citizenship right at the federal level.

Issues for debate:

  1. Is there any good reason not to have a paper trail?

  2. Any reason not to have an Election Day holiday?

  3. Any reason not to criminalize “voter intimidation” (so long as it involves deceptive tactics)?

  4. Any reason not to enfranchise ex-felons, at least for federal elections?

  5. Does this bill present the possibility of more “voter fraud,” in the form of ballots being cast by non-citizens, or persons who have not been resident in the relevant state for the legally prescribed period? (BTW: Are there any reliable figures on how much “voter fraud” of this type actually took place in 2004?)

I haven’t see or heard a good reason not to have a paper trail myself. I suppose the cost saving would be the only good reason…save money on printers, extra software and on paper. Other than that, as long as people have their neo-luddite fears of technology I suppose we need a paper trail. Maybe we could even have the machines punch cards or engrave colored tiles to give it even a more solid feel. :slight_smile:

Is there any good reason why we have to have one? Not that I’m opposed to another day off per se…but I guess I don’t see the need. Unless you figure out a way to ensure that if people take off they actually go and vote of course.

Depends I suppose on what those ‘deceptive tactics’ are. I think there already are laws on the books for voter intimidation…no?

Ex-felons or those currently serving? I see no reason ex-felons continue to be dis-enfranchised after they have served their time. I’d be for allowing them enfranchisment at both federal and state level if they currently are dis-enfranchised. By the same toke I see no reason to grant currently serving felons enfranchisment…and a number of reasons not too.

I’ll pass here as I haven’t really done more than skim the bill. I doubt there are many reliable figures on any aspect of the vote in 2004…or any other vote. All figures I’ve seen are open to interpretation.


2 quick thoughts.

With the paper trail, what will that add in costs? I keep hearing about how we’re heading into dire financial straits, so I’m curious which agency will pick up the tab. Have there been any estimates on what it will cost?

Second, I don’t understand felons not being able to vote once they’re out of the system. I don’t think they should vote if incarcerated or on parole. But once they’ve done their time and completed parole requirements, they’re supposed to have paid their debt to society. I don’t want them to own guns but I can’t see the harm in letting someone vote. Or am I missing something?

There are no ex-felons. There are only felons who have finished their sentences, and those who haven’t.

Btw, I also am opposed to permanently rescinding a person’s right to vote because of a felony conviction. I don’t see the connection, and I don’t see how permanent disenfranchisement benefits anyone or encourages successful re-integration into society.

Speaking of crime… “By the same toke”? :smiley:

Yep, “Vote early and vote often” Was a wise man who said that.

What does the (Democrat) Daley family in Chicago have to do with this? :dubious:

I’m opposed to granting felons the vote automatically once they have been released from prison. In my state, loss of voting rights is one of the consequences of a felony, and we wish to keep it that way.

I’m also opposed to making Election Day a federal holiday. It’s expensive, and doesn’t force private sector employers to give the day off. Federal and state government workers would certainly benefit; Walmart employees not so much.

I’m opposed to Election Day registration of voters, as I believe it will increase voter fraud – no time to verify the legality of the voter, combined with tremendous pressure to accept the vote.

For these reasons, I will urge my senators to oppose this bill.

All are much needed changes. I would strongly endorse a national election system where everyone uses the same scanner equipment with paper ballots. Voting fraud should be “rewarded” with strong criminal penalties and equally implemented. Bumping up the election system to a Federal level would be an appropriate response to the 2000 election where voters were note equally treated - same conclusion that the court system “found” for Dubya.

I got deeply involved in my counties electoral administration after 2000. I joined the League of Women Voters and we pushed for a commission to review the process and make recommendations. We went paper ballot scanner so there was the possibility of recounting. Voter fraud was limited to under twenty cases; some coz folks were too senile to remember that they voted! That’s a very low percentage out of a county with approx 1 million residents.

On the other hand, the percentage of ballots thrown out was nearly five times as high as two previous presidential elections. Some precincts [almost all African American majorities and heavily Democratic] had one out of three ballots disqualified as unreadable but mostly double votes for president. That led me to believe that there was voting fraud, but it was impossible to identify with proof positive that this was the case because these were punch card ballots; no way to show that some ballots had two people voting on it…

Support the use of paper ballot scanners, no excuse absentee ballots, provisional ballots [when voter nor election commission can say on the spot that the voter is not registered] and restored voting rights for ex felons who served their time.

The Court in Bush v. Gore stopped unequal treatment of voters IN THE SAME STATE. It did not say that voters in every state must be treated the same. This is why some states permit felons to vote while in prison, some permit felons to vote once their sentences have been served, and some do not permit felons to vote at all, absent some seperate process of restoring their rights.

You may argue that this disparate treatment of voters from state to state is unwise, but you may not suggest that the courts have spoken against it, because they have not.

I think election day should be a holiday. While those who are wealthy enough can just go and vote, working people have to squeeze it in before or after a long day of work, and the temptation is strong to avoid voting because it’s such an inconvenience. Thus, the electoral advantage goes once again to the wealthy.

Not a reply to the above, just jumping off from there…

In my state it has been found that there’s very little fraud at the ballot box. However, there is widespread fraud connected with absentee ballots, including theft and coersion among other problems.

In California people are allowed two hours off, if they need it, to vote. Polls opened at 7:00 and closed at 20:00. Most people don’t work 13-hour days, so they should have time to vote if they are so inclined. If they do work 13-hour days, then the two-hour allowance should be enough.

As much as I enjoy a holiday, I don’t see a need for one. I had to leave at 7:00 to get to the office on time. So on Election Day, I went to the polling place when it opened, cast my vote, then went to work. I’d get to the office 15-20 minutes late, which is well within the two-hour allowance. Really, people don’t need a whole day off to vote.

On the other hand, it might be good if it encouraged more people to vote. The problem is, how would we ensure that people really do vote? Why give people a day’s pay for not doing what they’re supposed to do? I have a feeling that non-voters would say ‘Thanks for the free money!’ and then blow off voting anyway. It’s just not fair to employers. If the employers were to get tax benefits for a required holiday, then it’s unfair to taxpayers that do vote.

What about non-resident aliens, felons, and workers under 18? Would they have to work, while everyone else is ‘out voting’? Or would they get a day’s holiday pay, even though they can’t vote?

Maybe it could be a provisional holiday. Employees could take the day off with pay, if they produce an official voucher or receipt verifying that they did indeed vote. People who are ineligible to vote, or who choose not to vote, will be required to work, or take the day off without pay.

As for felons: I think that once a felon has completed his sentence, including parole, that s/he should get his/her voting rights back – with the possible exception of those convicted of voting fraud.

Paper trails: Unfortunately computer voting does open the door to hacking, crashes, loss of data, etc. I’d like to be able to log onto my home computer and vote at my leisure; but given the scenes we saw in the national election, and in the Washington state election, I think a paper trail is a good idea. How about Scan-Tron ballots? That would eliminate the ‘hanging chad’ problem.

Why would CA need a day off? Pacific time zone votes don’t matter anyway. :wink:

You don’t get a day off. You only get two hours, if you ‘need’ it.

A paper trail seems like a fine idea to me.

As a Canadian, I can’t for the life of me understand why you Americans make the process so incredibly difficult. When I voted in the last election, I was given a ballot with circles beside each candidate’s name. At the top of the page, it said, “Put a large X in the circle of your candidate”. After I filled out my ballot, I walked back to the election official, who put it in a scanner. My ballot was processed, and the paper ballot went into a box for record keeping. Had I double-voted, or not printed darkly enough or something, the ballot would have been rejected on the spot and I would have been asked to fill it out properly.

This isn’t rocket science, folks. Get your act together.

As for felons, I can see arguments on both sides. On the one hand, you could argue that by committing a felony a person has shown that A) they are untrustworthy, B) THey have poor judgement, and C) they’re not exactly civic-minded. Why would you want such people voting? My guess: Because you think they’ll vote for your guy, and for no other reason. Good government doesn’t enter into the question. If felons tended to vote Republican, it would be the Republicans proposign the ‘let felons vote’ act, and Democrats obstructing it.

On the other hand, I’m not sure it’s right to deny the franchise to someone after they’ve paid their debt to society. But I’m damned sure I don’t want people who are actually serving time to have the vote. That’s just idiotic.

If you really want to reform the flaws in U.S. Democracy, the elephant under the bed is gerrymandering. Both parties engage in it, and its hugely detrimental to the principles of Demcracy. There are voting districts out there shaped like centipedes, drawn out by partisans for no other reason than to make a district safe for a party. California is especially bad, and incumbents almost never lose because of it. What good is voting if the politicians have rigged the game so that the vote almost never results in them actually losing power?

Stopped? You mean preserved, don’t you?

Re the OP, no, of course there’s no reason not to be as sure as reasonably possible (unless your guy didn’t really win). If gas pumps can print a written record, so can voting machines.

Ahem. Where have the redistricting battles been recently? Which party has attempted, and in one case so far, succeeded, in redistricting between censuses, for the first time ever? On what basis do you single out California?

Please get your facts straight before you start preaching.

Oh, for Christ’s sake. What part of, “both parties engage in it” did you not understand? And yes, the Texas Republicans are just as guilty.

In place of an election holiday, I’d like for every state to implement early voting, like we did here in Florida. Stretch the voting over three weeks so that lines don’t get ridiculously long, every ballot gets counted, and malfunctioning machines can get fixed or replaced right away.

I know there’s the considerable expense of paying for personnel, but I think it would be worth it.

The part where you gave any recent examples of Democrats doing it on a comparable level. Already asked, still not answered.

But yes, this is yet another example of “We know they’re the immoral ones, so they must have done stuff at least as bad as we have” from the Republicans and their wannabes. Pointing it out is part of fighting ignorance, though - 'tis a pity that some ignorance is immune.