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EFF Argues That Californians Can Have Secure Voting by November

PRESS RELEASE
May 18, 2004

Amicus Brief and White Paper Support Shelley's Plan for Secure, Accessible E-Voting

San Francisco, CA -- EFF today filed an amicus brief in Benavidez v. Shelley (case number 2:04-cv-03318-FMC-PJW), a suit brought by Riverside County and several disability rights groups against California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. The suit seeks to delay Shelley's order, issued April 30, that every California voter have the option to cast a paper ballot in the November presidential election. In its brief, EFF, joined by VerifiedVoting.org, the California Voter Foundation and VotersUnite!, argues that the court should deny this request. “There is substantial evidence supporting Shelley's decision,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “A long list of incidents involving electronic voting machines in California and nationwide shows that Shelley's concerns about security are strongly justified.”

In addition, EFF argues that the suit sets up a false distinction between secure electronic voting machines and ones that provide access for the disabled to vote in privacy. Peter Benavidez, a partly blind man in Los Angeles, initiated the suit because he believed he wouldn't be able to vote without assistance if the state de-certified its electronic voting machines. But this isn't true. “There is technology available right now that would give the disabled access while not compromising security,” said Cohn. She added that there is additional evidence showing that many of the electronic machines already in use aren't more accessible in practice than ones that produce a paper trail.

The false distinction between accessibility and security in electronic voting machines is also the subject of an EFF white paper released today. “Accessibility and Auditability in Electronic Voting,” authored primarily by EFF Activism Coordinator Ren Bucholz, demonstrates that there are many already-existing technologies which would give California voters, including the disabled, a chance to leave a paper trail when they vote in November. Bucholz offers several ways for California counties to comply with Shelley's order, using currently existing technologies, while also remaining accessible.

“Opponents of Shelley's order imply that the push toward secure, verifiable elections must pull us away from accessible elections,” Bucholz said. “But accessible, federally-certified machines are available today and more are scheduled for release in the coming months.”

Contact:

Ren Bucholz
Activist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
ren@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x121 (office), +1 415 254-9945 (cell)

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x108 (office), +1 415 307-2148 (cell)

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