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Maryland Election Officials Under Fire From Voters
EFF Files Brief in Case Challenging the Use of Insecure Diebold E-Voting Machines
Maryland - EFF has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a Maryland case that challenges the integrity of that state's electronic voting machines, which are manufactured by the troubled electronic voting machine company, Diebold Election Systems. EFF presented evidence of problems with electronic voting machines from more than 18 elections nationwide in the past few years, including the 2002 gubernatorial election and March 2004 primaries in Maryland. The evidence includes reports of lost votes, votes registering for the wrong candidate, and voters turned away from the polls using both Diebold and other electronic voting systems.
In addition, the California Secretary of State found that Diebold illegally installed uncertified software onto voting machines in 17 counties and referred the matter to the California Attorney General's office for potential criminal prosecution. EFF's brief also provides information on the growing number of technologies that can offer secure voting as well as accessibility for people with manual and visual disabilities.
In Schade v. the Maryland State Board of Elections, the plaintiffs are a group of concerned Maryland voters who ask that the state of Maryland address widely publicized security and reliability concerns with the Diebold machines and implement a voter verified paper ballot as required by state and federal law. In the short term, the voters are seeking an injunction that would require the state to either take steps to remedy these concerns before the November 2004 elections or follow California's lead in decertifying the machines altogether. The interim steps the lawsuit asks the state to take include implementing the same 23 basic security standards that California is now implementing, and offering Maryland voters the alternative of a paper ballot if they do not wish to have their vote counted by the Diebold machines.
Several independent researchers, including two teams hired by Maryland state officials, have demonstrated that the machines the state of Maryland intends to use in the upcoming November elections have a long list of problems and are vulnerable to vote tampering. One state-paid researcher noted that the results of an election could be altered by "an 8th grader." Most importantly, the Diebold machines used in Maryland provide no voter verified audit capacity, meaning that there is no reliable way to conduct a recount to ensure that the systems have not been tampered with or are malfunctioning.
EFF is joined by several other groups who support the plaintiffs in this case. Other signatories to the brief are Verified Voting and VotersUnite!, two grassroots voter organizations. Christopher M. Loveland of the firm of Schmeltzer, Aptaker & Shepard, PC, is local counsel in the case.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
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Exhibits available here.
EFF's e-voting pages
VerifiedVoting.org's litigation archive for Schade v. Maryland State Board of Elections