EFF and Coalition Back E-voting Challenge

Trenton, NJ - In the shadow of a lawsuit demanding that New Jersey update state laws to reflect its increasing use of electronic voting machines, New Jersey's acting governor recently signed into law legislation that will require all voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper record by 2008.

While applauding the law's requirement of voter-verified paper records, litigants in the case vowed to continue their suit to ensure that New Jersey voters do not have to wait until 2008 for a secure vote. The case, called Gusciora v. Codey, was filed by the Rutgers Law School Constitutional Litigation Clinic on behalf of New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora.

Just prior to the signing of the law, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. Joining EFF was a broad coalition of organizations with proven dedication to voting rights issues, including the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, VerifiedVoting.org, People For the American Way Foundation, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and VotersUnite!

EFF and fellow amici argued that New Jersey had failed in its obligations to provide laws and regulations appropriate for its use of electronic voting machines. This failure leaves New Jersey voters and election officials at the mercy of an election code aimed at prior generations of voting technology, mandating the use of ill-trained certification technicians and imposing nonsensical mechanical requirements.

With the state implicitly acknowledging the weakness of its voting laws, the importance of the Gusciora lawsuit is clear. "We applaud the legislature and governor for protecting future New Jersey voters, but today's voters remain at risk," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Under the current law, voters will for the next two-and-a-half years be forced to cast ballots on a voting technology that was programmed in secret, that does not preserve a tangible record of the voter's intent, and has a troubling performance history. Today's voters and the democratic process deserve better."

Rutgers professor Penny Venetis, who filed the lawsuit, agrees that it is critical to protect voters between now and 2008. While applauding the passage of the legislation, she noted, "Unconstitutional electronic voting machines that can be easily manipulated to alter votes are still being used in New Jersey. It is critical that the New Jersey courts ensure that every vote cast between now and 2008 be counted accurately."

Here is EFF's amicus brief in the case.

Here is the appellate brief.

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Matt Zimmerman
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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