Speaker Curtis Having Trouble Running The Legislature

Pignanelli and Webb suggest in their column that Speaker Curtis should have a full time chief of staff.

Perhaps a chief of staff is what Speaker Curtis (R-Sandy) needs. Reports are that he is busy with plenty of private sector clients after resigning his county job last year because he was caught filing fradulent reimbursement requests.

The House sure needs some kind of improved leadership and organization.

In the 2005 general session, our legislators passed a bill requiring that our new voting equipment produce a voter verifiable paper trail. The governor signed the bill into law and our right to vote was secure.

But Speaker Curtis and Senate President Valentine (R-Orem) prepared an incorrect version of the bill for the governor and his signature was meaningless. There was some confusion at work as the last day of the session extended toward midnight. The bill was already a substitute and Republicans wanted to add a provision to grab the top general election ballot position for themselves. Democrats have held the top position on Salt Lake County ballots by electing a county clerk from their party, as is the tradition. Late in the evening the Republican amendment was stripped out before the bill passed.

And somehow the Speaker and President couldn’t complete their constitutional duty to prepare a valid copy of the bill for the governor. It should have been pretty easy since it was already published accurately online at the legislature’s website.

Then the governor called a special session so that the legislature could pass a ‘revised’ version of the bill that allowed buying new voting equipment without a verifiable paper ballot. But only if the voting equipment lobbyists had already persuaded a commission to approve it before January. Lo and behold, Diebold had done just that.

In May, Lieutenant Governor Herbert announced that he had chosen to recommend Diebold digital voting equipment with an untested, untried “paper under glass” system. The new system is not proved secure, was not demonstrated to voters at the mandated election mock-up, and has not been recountable at all in elections in Nevada. Furthermore, it is so expensive that the state will have to supplement federal grants with state tax money. Worst of all, there is no guarantee of a secret ballot with this kind of equipment. Anyone who can read the paper roll can pretty easily figure out which ballot is yours.

Maybe the problem here is too much to be solved by just adding one new full time employee in the Speaker’s office.

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