White v. Blackwell: Creating True Verifiability in a Battleground State
A federal lawsuit filed by EFF in Ohio offers an unprecedented opportunity to expose and help fix problems related to flawed electronic voting systems.
The increased scrutiny of the 2004 presidential campaign revealed an election system in dramatic need of repair. Like numerous states throughout the country Ohio's closely-contested election exhibited a wide range of problems complaints and irregularities related to its voting technology. Ohio voters reported unacceptably long lines inadequately trained pollworkers and—critically—voting machines that seemed to record votes incorrectly along with many other problems. Incredibly Ohio has no processes in place to require formal reporting of these problems much less to implement corrections. While Ohio has made some efforts to improve its voting technology and related laws and procedures much more can be done starting with basic election transparency requirements.
On behalf of Ohio voter Jeanne White EFF intervened in a comprehensive election reform lawsuit brought in 2005 by the League of Women Voters of Ohio. Building upon the issues raised by the League White's sweeping claims would force the state to rewrite its election procedures and dramatically increase the security of its voting technology. It will also provide the best chance yet to discover the true "in the field" performance record of electronic voting equipment—a record that has been hidden from public view by election officials and voting equipment vendors.
EFF and its litigation partners (law firms Kerger & Associates Zuckerman Spaeder Goldstein Taylor & Kolker LLP and Heller Ehrman White and McAuliffe LLP) are engaged in detailed discovery discussions with the state of Ohio individual Boards of Election and voting equipment vendors in an effort to construct a detailed picture of the 2004 election and its aftermath.
Some of the relief sought by the lawsuit includes uniform standards and processes to ensure:
- The transparency of pre- and post-election procedures including public audits of ballots and equipment logs.
- An adequate number of accurately calibrated and functioning voting machines on election day (including pre-election and election day testing).
- Backup technology plans in the event of equipment or software failure.
- Robust pollworker and election official training regarding potential technology issues.
- Sufficient disability access at every polling place.
- Proper and prompt addressing of election technology-related complaints.
In short EFF is fighting for processes and procedures to improve transparency security and auditability of digital voting technologies in the state. EFF hopes to use this case to set model standards that can be used in other states and local jurisdictions throughout the country.