Legislation sponsored by a New Jersey congressman that would have reimbursed states wanting to adopt voting safeguards before the November presidential election failed to win approval Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill, dubbed the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008, fell short of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass, even after clearing a House committee unanimously. The vote was 239-178 in favor, with all but two Democrats supporting it and all but 16 Republicans opposed.
The two Democrats who voted nay on H R 5036 were Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Nick Rahall. The 16 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill were Reps. Vern Buchanan, Steve Chabot, Tom Cole, Tom Davis, Charlie Dent, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart, Jim Gerlach, Dean Heller, Tim Murphy, Marilyn Musgrave, Jon Porter, Jim Ramstad, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chris Shays, and Chris Smith.
The bill would have allowed states and jurisdictions to be reimbursed by the federal government for converting to a paper ballot system, offering emergency paper ballots or conducting audits by hand counts.
The measure was designed to ensure that every vote is properly counted. Voters in all or parts of 20 states including New Jersey now cast ballots electronically without backup paper verification, according to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J.
The bill would have provided reimbursements for states to provide voter-verified, audited balloting for the general election, but it would not have mandated standards for the states.