TRENTON – The Senate State Government Committee today approved a bill, S-507, sponsored by Senator Nia H. Gill, to ensure the integrity of the voting process in New Jersey through random statistical audits of voter verified paper records from voting machines used next year in New Jersey.
“There is a constitutional crisis in the State of New Jersey,” said Senator Gill, D-Essex and Passaic, whose bill to establish a statistical based audit was described by supporters as the “Gold Standard” nationally for ensuring the integrity of voting results.
In New Jersey, the State Attorney General’s Office has failed to certify a workable system of providing paper records from the touch-screen voting machines which are used in a majority of state election districts.
The measure would require an audit team to conduct random counts of voter-verified paper records in at least two percent of the election districts where votes were cast for federal, state and local offices.
Senator Gill said she had a “sense of frustration” at the “inability” of the Attorney General’s Office to resolve problems with verifying accuracy of the electronic voting machines after a 2005 State law required that all voting machines used in New Jersey produce an individual permanent paper record for each vote cast by January of 2008.
The panel voted 4-1 to support Senator Gill’s measure. It now awaits consideration by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Senator Gill said her bill will provide “an audit of our voting system that ensures that our voting machines are functioning properly and have not been deliberately manipulated.”
Since the touch-screen electronic voting machines have been found nationally to be unreliable and vulnerable to error, a strong audit system of voting accuracy is essential, Senator Gill said.
“Not only must the people be guaranteed the right to vote, but they must be guaranteed that their vote is counted,” Senator Gill said. “There is nothing that is more important in a democratic society than the integrity of the vote.”
“With a strong audit in conjunction with a voter verified paper trail, we can ensure the integrity of the vote and establish some minimal level of credibility for the continued use of touch-screen voting machines,” Senator Gill said.