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Federal Court Rules in Favor of Paper Trail Reform in E-Voting

PRESS RELEASE
July 6, 2004

Los Angeles - A federal judge today ruled that California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's requirements to ensure the security of electronic voting machines do not violate federal or state law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, California Voter Foundation, VerifiedVoting.org, and Voters Unite! submitted a friend-of-the-court brief and a surreply in support of Secretary Shelley. The case is Benavidez v. Shelley.

"This decision is a landmark," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "The court said - in clear, unambiguous terms - that requiring a paper trail for e-voting machines is consistent with the 'obligation to assure the accuracy of election results.' That's an enormous victory for secure elections."

The court determined that the "defendant's decision to decertify touch-screen voting machines and to withhold further certification until he is satisfied that manufacturers have complied with specified conditions is a reasonable one. It is based on studies conducted and information gathered which convinced him that the voting public's right to vote is not adequately protected by the systems currently in place."

This ruling is particularly significant because Secretary Shelley's e-voting reforms are setting the tone for national debate on this issue. He was the first state election official to issue a blanket requirement for voter-verified paper audit trails (VVPAT) on e-voting machines, though Nevada later followed suit. On April 30, after further review and a scandal with embattled voting machine vendor Diebold Election Systems, Shelley decertified all of the state's e-voting machines until additional safeguards could be implemented. His responsiveness to the growing evidence of problems in e-voting systems has led to pressure in states like Maryland and Ohio, where similar evidence has been downplayed.

"California is at the forefront of the nationwide movement for e-voting reform," said California Voter Foundation President Kim Alexander. "Today's court decision reinforces the leadership California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley is bringing to this critical issue."

The suit was brought by disability rights advocates and four California counties (Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern and Plumas) that oppose Secretary Shelley's voter verified paper trail requirement and April 30th decertification orders.

The ruling concerned the plaintiffs' requests for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to prevent Shelley's orders from taking effect.

The decision is posted on EFF's website:
http://www.eff.org/Activism/E-voting/Benavidez/20040706-Order_re_TRO.pdf.

Contacts:

Kim Alexander
President
California Voter Foundation
kimalex@calvoter.org

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

About EFF:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/

About the California Voter Foundation:
The California Voter Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization
dedicated to promoting and applying the responsible use of technology to
improve the democratic process. For more information about the California Voter Foundation, please visit http://www.calvoter.org

About Verified Voting
Verified Voting champions reliable and publicly-verifiable elections in the United States. Please visit http://www.verifiedvoting.org.

About Voters Unite!
Voters Unite is a non-partisan grassroots network for fair and accurate elections. Please visit http://www.votersunite.org.

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