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EFF, Florida Disability Rights Advocates Fight to Avert E-voting Debacle

September 15, 2005

EFF, Florida Disability Rights Advocates Fight to Avert E-voting Debacle

Case Puts Security and Auditability at Risk in the Next Election

Volusia County, FL - On Wednesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals supporting Volusia County, Florida, in an ongoing legal battle to permit the County to consider voting systems that are both accessible to the disabled and auditable for everyone. EFF's brief strongly urged the Court to reject an argument by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) that Volusia County should be forced to purchase paperless touchscreen voting machines for the upcoming October 11th election. This deadline, EFF argued, would require the County to rush to prepare for the election, possibly jeopardizing its efforts to program the machines, train election and pollworkers, and educate the public. Instead, the County should be given the chance to acquire voting technology that creates an auditable paper trail, as well as provides accessibility features for a wider range of disabled voters.

EFF's brief was joined by the Handicapped Adults of Volusia County (HAVOC), Verifiedvoting.org, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), and VotersUnite!

A federal District Court judge ruled against the NFB in July, noting that neither Florida law nor the Americans With Disabilities Act required the County to purchase touchscreen voting machines that leave no paper trail. The NFB appealed the case and continues to demand that the paperless machines be mandated for the October election, despite earlier warnings by County officials that the County needed months to prepare.

"We're disappointed that national disability rights groups have taken such a counter-productive step despite opposition from local disability rights leaders," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "At a time when people devoted to meaningful election reform should be working together, it's unfortunate that the NFB is making the dangerous argument that election integrity should be sacrificed for otherwise laudable accessibility goals."

"As a blind voter, I'm strongly opposed to the paperless e-voting machines that the NFB is trying to force onto us," added HAVOC president David Dixon. "I want a voting system that is accessible to as many voters as possible and that also produces an audit trail. The paperless machines are simply the wrong approach, and I support the County's efforts to try to find a better way."

More information on e-voting here.

Contacts:

Matt Zimmerman
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

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