House Dem leaders are not clashing over energy policy

It’s a shame that Jonathan Kaplan, author of the July 10 article “Democrats’ climate clash heads to floor,” is more intent on provoking arguments than accurately reporting news. His speculation that Democratic leaders are readying for a
legislative battle on climate change is irresponsible. It’s also incorrect.

When it comes to addressing the problem of global warming, my colleagues and I are not preparing for a “showdown.”
Instead, we’re focused on developing policy solutions that are fair, effective and worthy of strong bipartisan support.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and I share the goal of passing comprehensive climate change legislation this year. We’re on course to accomplish such a task. And we agree that, in order to protect the health of our planet, all policy options — including higher efficiency standards, increased fuel economy, renewable fuel requirements, cap-and-trade provisions, new technologies and fees for carbon emissions — must be on the table for consideration.

As we determine the best way to move forward, I do not expect a “clash.” I expect continued collaboration and transparent, bipartisan discussion. Most importantly, I predict that my colleagues and I will come together to produce the climate change legislation our country needs and our constituents deserve.

~From Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Washington

Voting machines are trustworthy

In his June 19 op-ed “A reliable, verifiable vote in 2008,” presidential candidate and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) posed the question of whether or not the United States will have a reliable, verifiable vote in 2008. Regardless of the passage of any federal election bill currently before Congress, the 2008 election will be the most verifiable and auditable election in our nation’s history.

Whether it’s a paper-based voting system, or one purely electronic, all of the voting systems on the market today have more methods to audit their performance than ever before. Each voting system is federally reviewed and tested both at the state and local level prior to its use in an election. Each voting system (electronic or paper) maintains multiple levels of auditable records as required under federal voting system guidelines and pursuant to each state’s laws. ...

There is no widespread crisis of confidence with our voting systems either in their reliability or transparency during the counting process as evidenced by recent polling data. In November 2006, an ABC News/Washington Post poll reported a strong confidence level from voters — more than 80 percent — that their ballots would be counted accurately. A CNN poll the same month cited an 88 percent confidence level.

Passage of an election reform bill mandating or prohibiting specific voting technologies may or may not bolster voter confidence. Should Congress move forward with reform, senators and representatives should look to expand our knowledge on incorporating technology and sound election administration policies as a means of increasing voter confidence. Otherwise, Congress could run the risk of causing more harm than good through unintended consequences.

~From David Beirne, executive director, Election Technology Council, Houston