Government Technology

New Jersey Secretary of State Supports Voter Verified Paper Record Legislation

November 14, 2008 By

New Jersey Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells said yesterday that The Department of State, Division of Elections, supports the passage of A3458 recommending certification of the Voter Verified Paper Record System (VVPRS) also known as the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) for the purpose of a pilot study.

Since passage of the law requiring the VVPRS, the industry has worked diligently to create the technology to retro-fit the state's 11,000 electronic voting machines for compliance. "We believe the vendor has done its best to accomplish the goals set forth by the Legislature," said the Secretary on the Secretary of State's Web site, "a study of the new technology by the State Voting Machine Examination Committee has raised several concerns for full statewide implementation."

The statement goes on to say that =in June 2008, the Examination Committee issued a report citing concerns related to the complexity of the new, untested technology and to the fact that both poll workers and voters were unfamiliar with the VVPRS.

Specifically, the Examination Committee stated that: "The machine as revised appears to meet the standards of the state of New Jersey entitled "Criteria for voter-verified paper record for direct electronic voting machines." As such, it should be approved by the state of New Jersey for use by its citizens. The Title 19 Committee does, however, offer the following caveat -- VVPAT devices are very new and New Jersey is a pioneer in the area. VVPAT devices add an additional level of complexity to the voting process, as well as expense, and problems should be anticipated, at least for the first several rounds of voting, given the fact that poll workers are unfamiliar with these devices and that the technology has a limited operating history. It is recommended that the N.J. Secretary of State in conjunction with the N.J. Attorney General's Office keep a very close eye on the first few elections and have procedures in place in case there is a discrepancy between the VVPAT record and the internal record of the DREs."

In response to that report," continued Wells in the statement, "I have recommended that the Division of Elections be given the opportunity to conduct a pilot program in lieu of pursuing a plan for full implementation of the VVPRS by January 1, 2009, as the law currently requires."

A pilot program with a limited introduction of the modified AVC Advantage DRE Voting Machine with the APS Verivote Printer attachment would grant state and local election officials the time to thoroughly examine and resolve any problems with this new technology. A limited introduction would also provide the public with the opportunity to become familiar with the new system.

"The changes set forth in A3458 provide a reasonable and prudent approach to accomplish the goal of implementing an ultimately successful VVPRS," concluded Wells.

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