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A View from Erika Jonietz

Federal Judge Upholds CA E-Voting Ban

A U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles ruled yesterday that California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley’s requirements for additional security on electronic voting machines do not violate federal or state law, as reported by the San Jose Business Journal….

  • July 7, 2004

A U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles ruled yesterday that California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley’s requirements for additional security on electronic voting machines do not violate federal or state law, as reported by the San Jose Business Journal.

Disability rights advocates and four California counties (Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern, and Plumas) filed suit requesting a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to prevent Mr. Shelley’s orders from taking effect, which would have allowed the machines’ use in the November presidential election. In her decision (available here as a PDF), Judge Florence-Marie Cooper wrote that Shelley’s “decision to decertify touch-screen voting machines and to withhold further certification until he is satisfied that manufacturers have complied with specified conditions is a reasonable one. It is based on studies conducted and information gathered which convinced him that the voting public’s right to vote is not adequately protected by the systems currently in place.”

The ruling is a big victory for opponents of current e-voting technologies. Shelley’s reforms are seen as setting the tone for national debate “verified voting”; he was the first state election official to issue a requirement for voter-verified paper audit trails on touch-screen and other e-voting machines (Nevada later followed suit). On April 30, Shelley decertified all of the state’s e-voting machines until additional safeguards could be implemented. He has also recommended the California attorney general investigate fraud charges against voting machine maker Diebold in relation to alleged lies by Diebold officials about the performance of the machines.

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