August 2, 2006 | By Cindy Cohn

Voting Security Attacked In Court Again

Here we go again. Despite all of our efforts to dispel the false dichotomy between secure voting and accessible voting, a shrinking but vocal minority of the disability rights community continues to take steps to prevent more secure voting by claiming that it will violate the rights of the disabled. They've now filed a federal lawsuit in San Francisco, called PVA v. McPherson, to try to turn back the clock -- and force Californians back into insecure, inauditable voting systems. This argument was wrong when it was rejected by a federal judge in 2004 and it's still wrong now.

Since 2004, the nation has awakened to the problems with electronic voting machines. We've slowly recognized the need for voting systems that are transparent and that allow for trustworthy and complete audits and recounts. The fact that Las Vegas slot machines are infinitely more secure than our voting systems is now widely known, and the movement to remedy that problem is growing stronger with each botched election. EFF represented the Handicapped Voters of Volusia County (HAVOC) in Florida, filing a brief there to insist that their voting systems have a paper trail. They wanted to make sure their votes were counted as cast too.

Our favorite current solution is the new generation of optical scan systems, led by the AutoMARK, that are broadly accessible to voters with disabilities. Another option is the voter verified paper trail attached to DRE electronic voting systems. The current crop of paper trail machines still has serious problems, and we still have much additional work to do to ensure verified voting, but these systems are still better than DREs with no paper trail at all. Yet the suit filed yesterday would push California back to those insecure, paperless DREs.

EFF and a broad coalition of voting activists will likely participate in the PVA v. McPherson case, as we did in the one in 2004, to point out, once again, that secure, accessible voting can and should be our shared goals.


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