Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John Kerry (D-MA) have introduced a resolution calling on state and local governments to have back-up systems in place on election day to ensure that every eligible voter who wants to vote is able to. The Senators’ Sense of the Senate resolution notes the difficulties that voters in many states have experienced with new voting technology and urges states to do whatever is necessary to ensure that voters are actually able to cast a vote on November 7, 2006, including providing emergency paper ballots in the event of a voting machine failure.
“We cannot allow the American people to lose faith in the most fundamental aspect of our democratic system – the right to vote,” Feingold said. “Some of the problems we saw this year, like voters in Maryland being told to come back later because the machines weren’t working, are simply unacceptable. A back-up plan as simple as having emergency paper ballots on hand is essential to preventing election day disasters.”
Kerry said, “It’s a disgrace that a Congress and an Administration which talks about exporting democracy around the world ignores the challenges of our own democracy right here at home. We have seen American citizens disenfranchised in our elections for the simple reason that no effective back up system was in place. That’s a national scandal. But here we are, 42 days away from another election, and Congress has again dragged its feet even after we mobilized 35,000 citizens to demand a hearing for our Count Every Vote Act, even after what we saw just this month in Montgomery County. We need emergency action now. That is why I am co-sponsoring the Dodd-Boxer legislation to provide emergency paper ballots and that is why Russ Feingold and I are introducing our resolution today demanding election day back-up plans. We have a duty to ensure that no citizen will be denied the right to vote in 2006.”
Feingold and Kerry are also co-sponsoring legislation with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) to help states make paper ballots available in case of election day problems with electronic voting machines. Feingold and Kerry introduced the resolution ahead of Congress’ adjournment for the 2006 elections. With the problems some voters have already experienced during primary elections this year, the senators believe the Senate should be on record supporting state efforts to be prepared in the event of problems on Election Day. Earlier this month, problems with new voting technology were reported in a number of primaries around the country.