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Those who are calling for a voter verified paper ballot have already succeeded in delaying the purchase of accessible voting equipment in several counties in California and the states of Illinois and New Hampshire.

AAPD Policy Statement on Voter Verified Paper Ballots

The 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) made several important and large-scale improvements to the nation's elections system, particularly in regard to the accessibility of the voting process for people with disabilities. A significant part of the bill is the requirement to place an accessible voting machine in every polling place in the country by January of 2006. This technology will allow millions of voters with disabilities to cast a secret and independent ballot-many of them doing so for the first time in their lives.

There are, however, efforts that threaten this positive impact and will certainly delay implementation by many years. The most dangerous and costly of these initiatives is the voter verifiable paper ballots (VVPB), already part of state law in Illinois and New Hampshire.

The clique of VVPB supporters disputes the fact that touch screen voting machines are safe, secure, and reliable. They theorize that it is likely that computerized voting systems will accidentally miscount the ballots or that a rogue programmer will steal an election. Therefore, every touch screen must be attached to a printer and give the voter a paper ballot. If implemented in state initiatives, VVPB will violate the letter and spirit of HAVA by once again denying people with disabilities their right to a secret and independent vote. Not only will the rights of people with disabilities be stripped, but the costs of local elections will rise significantly with no promise or guarantee of future federal funding to absorb these new costs.

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) opposes VVPB for four primary reasons:

  1. It does not substantially address the issue of election fraud.
  2. It violates the accessibility requirements under HAVA.
  3. It will raise the costs of local elections and threaten Title III funding.
  4. Touch screen voting systems that provide a VVPB do not exist, have not been tested in the real world, and are not certified.



AAPD and the disability community are in favor of a voter having the ability to verify the accuracy of their vote and to change any vote before their ballot is cast. In fact, it is one of the reasons the disability community has so strongly supported the implementation of DRE's that verify ballots and inform voters of a miss-vote.


In addition to these factors, there is also the concern that none of the DRE systems certified by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) specifically for HAVA funds have the capacity to produce a paper ballot. At best, the mandating of VVPB puts election authorities at risk of implementing systems that may be redundant and unnecessary. At worst, this requirement is an assault on the intention of HAVA, and it puts our democracy at risk because of the inaccuracies, unreliability and discriminatory practices. AAPD cannot in good faith support a measure that will negate the accessibility requirements under HAVA and one that creates an unfunded mandate for local election authorities.

Contact Jim Dickson      202-457-0046 (v/tty)

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