HJR 681/SJR 363
Joint Subcommittee to
Study Virginia's Election Process and Voting Technologies
June 14, 2001, Richmond
The executive director of the
Election Center in Houston, Doug Lewis, gave the morning keynote presentation.
The center provides support to election administration officials on a
nationwide basis, training and education programs to elections officials,
and staff support to the National Association of State Election Directors
and to the Elections Reform Task Force, which will be issuing recommendations
for election reforms later in the summer. He anticipates approximately
80 concrete recommendations.
His remarks covered the root
causes of the 2000 election problems in Florida and potential cures:
- Lack of a clear definition
of a valid vote and a standard for determining voter intent.
State law should provide the definition and statewide standard to be
- Lack of clear recount
law should provide the standard for counting votes in recounts.
- Lack of a realistic
timeframe and deadlines for conducting recounts. State law should
take into account the various recount situations from local to statewide
recounts. State law should provide for recounts by equipment when equipment
can be used because equipment is more accurate. Hand recounts should
be used only for overvotes, undervotes, and spoiled ballots.
- Confusion generated
by an automatic purge of all felons from the registered voter lists.
[Not pertinent to Virginia, which has a continuous update program.]
- The use of different
types of voting equipment was not a root cause, but voters made more
errors with some types of equipment.
The equipment should use precinct counting devices (not central counting
systems) and give voters the opportunity to correct overvotes.
- Communications problems
between agencies accepting voter registrations under the NVRA and the
state voter registration agency.
Careful coordination is required to assure voters who believe they have
registered at an agency are placed on the voter lists or notified otherwise.
- No process for casting
a provisional ballot when the voter's name is not on the registered
voter list but he claims to be registered.
[Not pertinent to Virginia which provides for provisional or conditional
ballots in such situations.]
- Inexperienced voters
or new voting equipment.
States should provide instruction and examine the use of oral taped
instructions or videos in the polling place.
Following these remarks, the
subcommittee and additional invited participants broke into five discussion
groups of approximately 12 persons each on
- the administrative structure
- voter registration issues,
- election procedures and
- voting equipment, and
- voter intent, recounts and
contests, and election fraud.
A spokesperson for each group
reported back to the full group at noon on those issues discerned to be
the most important for study by the subcommittee during the summer. Those
high priority items included
- resources and funding for
the State Board,
- maintenance of a statewide
voter registration database,
- review of restoration of
voting rights for felons,
- training for election officers
and education for voters,
- examination of how to treat
- evaluation of the error
rates of various types of voting equipment, and
- careful statutory treatment
of recount procedures and the proper statewide standard to determine
The subcommittee set up two
task forces: #1 --Technology and Voting Equipment, to meet July 27th,
and #2 --Voter Registration and Election Day Processes, to meet July 26th
and August 28th.
The Honorable James K. O'Brien,
Legislative Services contact: Mary Spain
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