by Mike DeRosa

When does a U.S. Senator have influence on a state legislature? If CT legislative Bill 388 is any indicator, the answer is anytime he feels like it. Bill 388 was a bill recently passed by the CT State Senate unanimously. It required a voter verifiable paper trail for every vote cast on a computer voting machine in CT. Bill 388 got unanimous support in both the Government and Elections and Appropriations committees of the CT legislature during the last session.

The bill was created and supported by the activist organization V.O.T.E.R. (Voter Opportunity Through Election Reform). According to sources, the bill fell on hard times when it reached the CT House. "The people in the office killed the bill," said one highly placed member of the legislature. The "office" is a secret caucus were the top leaders of the legislature and a representative of the governor decide the ultimate fate of all bills. They did so according to several sources after Senator Dodd circulated a letter he had written to other U.S. Senators that claimed that a CT voter verifiable paper trail bill for all computer voting machines would violate the so-called Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Senator Dodd was instrumental in writing and getting HAVA passed in the U.S. Congress. Critics say that the HAVA act, which was created in response to the 2000 election debacle in FL, is really the "Help George W. Bush Steal The Election Act." Senator Dodd has also stated publicly that a "paper trail" would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Unfortunately, Senator Dodd has not read a recent position paper written by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department that says that voter verifiable paper trail legislation does not "on its surface" violate HAVA and ADA. It seems that the last time Senator Dodd had contact with the Department of Justice was when he voted to confirm John Ashcroft’s nomination to become Attorney General of the U.S. (he was one of only a handful of Democrats that did so).

Our sources say that Dodd encouraged Secretary of State Bysiewicz, a candidate for Governor, to circulate his letter to key legislators including Rep. Jim O’Rourke (co-chair of the G & E committee, who some say initially put the breaks on the bill in the house). Another source said that Dodd made his views about the CT paper trail legislation know to Bysiewicz during a casual meeting at a political event. O’Rourke says he supported the legislation but had no control over the outcome. O’Rourke says he "could not find anyone in the CT legislature who opposed the bill". So how is it, that a bill that was supported by everyone, including Bysiewicz, ended up the cutting room floor? Welcome to business as usual, back room style, at the CT legislature. All legislators are equal but some legislators are more equal than others, especially if they are U.S. Senators.

The bigger question is why would a Democratic Party insider like Senator Dodd be willing to put his party in harms way in the voting booth in 2004? Why would he oppose one of the few secure and reasonable ways to defeat voting fraud and manipulation by voting machines companies (Diebold and ES & S, etc.) owned by right wing Bush supporters? Didn’t he and others in the Democratic party learn anything from the debacle run by Jeb Bush, Catherine Harris, and Clayton Roberts in FL in 2000? Have they learned nothing from the recent "breakdown" of voting machines and other voting machine company lawbreaking in California? And by the way, why and how did a "liberal" senator from CT ever vote to confirm John Ashcroft, a man who does not believe in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill Of Rights, and who is consider by many legal scholars to be the worst Attorney General in U.S. history? Why indeed!

Mike DeRosa is a member of V.O.T.E.R. If you would like further information on voter verifiable paper trail legislation and related issues, go to Mike DeRosa’s website: (look under Black Box Voting).