The New York Times has the following story:
Three Senate Democrats proposed emergency legislation on Tuesday to reimburse states for printing paper ballots in case of problems with electronic voting machines on Nov. 7.
The proposal is a response to grass-roots pressures and growing concern by local and state officials about touch-screen machines. An estimated 40 percent of voters will use those machines in the election.
“If someone asks for a paper ballot, they ought to be able to have it,” said Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a co-sponsor of the measure with Senators Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin.
Republican leadership aides were skeptical about the prospects for the measure. It would have to advance without opposition from any senator and then make it through the House in the short time available before Election Day.
Dozens of states are using optical-scan and touch-screen machines to comply with federal laws intended to phase out lever and punch-card machines after the hanging-chads confusion of the 2000 presidential election. Widespread problems were reported with the new technology and with the poll workers using them this year in primaries in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio and elsewhere.
Local and state officials have expressed concern that the new systems might not be ready to handle increased turnouts. Election experts fear that the lack of a paper trail with most touch-screen machines will leave no way to verify votes in case of fraud or computer failure.