JOINT COMMITTEE ON BALLOT SECURITY

 

Senator Randy Gardner, Chairman

Representative Kevin DeWine, Vice Chairman

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

April 7, 2004

 

Joint Committee on Ballot Security – Overview

 

 

The Joint committee on Ballot Security was established by Senate President Doug White and House Speaker Larry Householder to hold hearings on Ohio’s pending implementation of the federal Help America Vote Act. The leaders requested that the Joint Committee work expeditiously and thoroughly in an effort to make recommendations for consideration by the Secretary of State, the Controlling Board and the General Assembly.

 

            The committee held a total of eight public hearings between March 4 and April 7, heard from 32 separate witnesses and participated in 22 hours of testimony and discussion. In addition, committee members were provided more than 3,500 pages of testimony and related documentation.

 

SENATE MEMBERS

Randy Gardner, Chairman

Jeff Jacobson

Kevin Coughlin

Teresa Fedor

Tom Roberts

 

HOUSE MEMBERS

Kevin DeWine, Vice Chairman

John Schlichter

Jim Aslanides

Peter Ujvagi

Joyce Beatty

 

 

 

 I.  SECRETARY OF STATE CONTROLLING BOARD REQUEST.  The Secretary of State requested that the Controlling Board release $15,307,936 for FY04 and FY05 to contract with Burson-Marsteller, LLC to "develop and implement a voter education campaign as required by federal mandate of the Help America Vote Act."  The committee believes that the amount proposed is excessive, and not appropriately targeted.  Therefore, the Joint Committee recommends that either (A) the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, the House Minority Leader and Senate Minority Leader or their designees meet with the Secretary of State to determine an acceptable proposal to replace the one deferred by the Controlling Board or (B) the General Assembly make an appropriation from the Federal HAVA funds for voter education and poll worker training. 

 

II. ADA COORDINATOR.  Require the Secretary of State to create the position of ADA Coordinator to assist the Secretary of State in ensuring that there is equal access to polling locations and that every voter has the ability to cast their ballot independently, and to advise the Secretary of State in selection of machines.  The Committee strongly encourages the Secretary of State to pursue any additional federal HAVA money available to make polling locations more accessible to disabled voters.

 

 

III. VOTER-VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAILS:  The General Assembly should establish the Joint Legislative Committee on Verifiable Paper Audit Trails to continue to examine issues relating to mandated voter-verifiable paper audit trails in Ohio elections.

 

IV. MANDATED VVPATs.  All elections systems in use in Ohio after January 1, 2006 must contain a voter-auditable paper component.  Specifically, all Direct Recording Electronic machines used in Ohio must be equipped with a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). Except as provided in Recommendation 5, the Secretary of State shall cancel contracts deferred by the Controlling Board and shall conduct a new RFP/bidding process for machines that include VVPAT.  Except as provided in Recommendation 5, all existing or pending designations of vendors/systems, whether by the county board of elections or the Secretary of State, shall be null and void.  After the Secretary of State has selected the new list of vendors and negotiated terms of the contract, county board of elections shall choose a VVPAT-equipped DRE vendor or another HAVA-compliant system. 

 

 

V.  2004 ELECTIONS/VVPAT/COST.  If the Secretary of State permits it, a county board of elections may have the option of proceeding in 2004 with a conversion to the non-VVPAT DRE machines and retrofitting the machines with a VVPAT next year.    However, the county will be responsible for the additional cost of retrofitting as compared to purchasing a “factory-installed” VVPAT.  An affirmative decision by the county board of election and approval by the county commissioners would both be required. Prior to full implementation in 2006, the Secretary of State shall consider accessing federal HAVA disability funds to lease one voting machine per polling location in the 29 counties that were scheduled to go forward in November 2004.

 

VI.  VVPAT STATE STANDARDS.  Prior to the bidding process, the Secretary of State shall promulgate state standards for a VVPAT-equipped DRE machine.  The standards shall include (but need not be limited to) the following:

 

    1. Definition of the VVPAT as a paper record of the voter’s choices that is verified by the voter prior to the vote being cast and securely retained at the polling place.

 

    1. A requirement that the paper record should not be retainable by voters, should contain information in a format that can be optically scanned, and should not contain individual voter information;

 

 

    1. A prohibition on the production by any DRE system of anything that could be removed by the voter from the polling location such as a “receipt” or vote confirmation;

 

    1. A requirement that the paper used be sturdy, clean, and resistant to degradation.

 

In addition, the Legislature shall, in consultation with the Secretary of State, adopt laws regarding the procedures for VVPAT-equipped systems, including (but not limited to) the following:

 

A.    Provisions setting forth that in the event of a recount, the paper record generated by either a VVPAT system or the paper ballot used in the optical scan system shall serve as the official ballot;

 

B.     Provisions setting forth the proper retention and disposition of a VVPAT paper record.

 

 

 

 

VII.  ELECTION REFORM FUND.  All Federal and State HAVA funds shall be the subject of an appropriation.  Any funds that are not appropriated for HAVA compliance or voter/poll worker education shall be used to establish an “Election Reform Fund” to be utilized through Controlling Board action to provide counties with additional funds for future state or federal requirements in implementing HAVA.  In addition to an appropriation, the Legislative Service Commission shall have the ability to access that fund to conduct appropriate security assessments of VVPAT-equipped DRE machines after selection by the Secretary of State.