Thursday marked the first day of a renewed lobbying effort for HR 550, the "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005," a federal bill introduced by New Jersey Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) that is designed to tackle head-on many of the most glaring problems and vulnerabilities associated with the use of paperless electronic voting equipment. The bill is at the same time sweeping and narrowly focused. On the one hand, it is aimed at equipment-related issues. On the other hand, it extends not only to equipment requirements but also to a wide range of necessary components of the election process such as mandatory audits, source code requirements, and additional funding that all play a part in ensuring that technology will work correctly and in a transparent way. In short, it is the "gold standard" of e-voting bills, offering the best chance thus far seen to address voting integrity issues on a nationwide scale.

This week's HR 550 "Lobby Days" efforts are being undertaken by ordinary citizens, not professional lobbyists. Over 200 citizens from around the country flew to Washington D.C. on their own dime in order to express their concern about the lack of transparency in the e-voting process. This afternoon, this team fanned out across the Hill and spoke with members of the House and their staffers in an effort to ask for commitments to the bill. Already, success stories are rolling in. Carole Simmons, a voter from Iowa, reports that Representative Jim Leach (R-IA) has agreed to sign onto the bill as a co-sponsor, bringing the bill's current total of co-sponsors to 170. Simmons noted that while not previously familiar with the bill, Leach was convinced after he was briefed on the content of the bill... and after learning that Rush Holt was the bill's original author. Leach's staff also let Simmons and the other citizen-lobbyists know that they had received calls of both support and of opposition regarding HR 550, the calls of support coming from local voters and calls of opposition coming from -- you guessed it -- vendors who would be subject to tougher rules regarding their conduct.

Click here to tell your member of Congress to support HR 550!

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