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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: July 2004

July 27, 2004

Lawsuit Remedy Should Permit Secure, Accessible Voting Systems

Akron, OH - Organizations focused on election integrity today asked a federal judge to choose secure electronic voting machines with voter-verified paper audit trails as the remedy for a lawsuit challenging the use of punch card and certain kinds of optical scan systems in Ohio.

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Citizens' Alliance for Secure Elections, the Verified Voting Foundation and VotersUnite wrote that they "urge that in considering the issues and potential remedies in this case, this court not suggest or require that any Ohio Counties adopt electronic voting machine technologies that do not contain a voter-verified paper ballot."

The brief also lists 18 incidents in which electronic voting machines caused problems in elections, including several where voters were disenfranchised and one in which an election had to be redone due to problems with the machines. It discusses a variety of available technologies that are accessible and secure, and presents evidence that e-voting machines may not be the panacea for disabled voters that they are advertised to be.

Voter-verified paper ballots permit voters to check a paper ballot to make sure that their votes are recorded as intended and allow election officials to perform recounts and audits.

Judge Dowd is hearing the case called Effie Stewart et al. v. J. Kenneth Blackwell et al. (Case No. 5:02CV-2028).

Donald McTigue of Columbus, OH serves as local counsel for the groups.

Stewart v. Blackwell case documents amicus brief [PDF, 163k]

Contacts:

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

Will Doherty
Executive Director
VerifiedVoting.org
press@verifiedvoting.org

About Verified Voting Foundation

The Verified Voting Foundation is a nonprofit organization championing reliable and publicly verifiable elections. Founded by Stanford University Computer Science Professor David Dill, the organization supports a requirement for voter-verified paper ballots on electronic voting machines allowing voters to inspect individual permanent records of their ballots and election officials to conduct meaningful recounts as needed.

About VotersUnite!

Voters Unite! is a nonpartisan national grassroots network for fair and accurate elections.

About CASE Ohio

CASE Ohio, Citizens' Alliance for Secure Elections, is nonpartisan statewide grassroots association of volunteers that advocates for fair and accurate elections, and supports a voter-verified paper audit trial.

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July 27, 2004

Red Hat Sponsors the Fourth Annual EFF Freedom Fest at LinuxWorld August 4

San Francisco, CA - For the past four years, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been thanking its members for their support with a free outdoor concert called Freedom Fest. This year's event will be bigger and better than ever. EFF has partnered with Red Hat, the world's leading provider of Linux and open source solutions, to conduct the festivities as part of the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. The Freedom Fest will be held outdoors at the gorgeous Yerba Buena Gardens, with an all-star lineup that features celebrated local artists Austin Willacy, Josh Fix and the Furious Force, and The Megan Slankard Band.

Warwick Davies, Group Vice President, IDG World Expo, said, "We're pleased to have EFF's Freedom Fest at LinuxWorld. It's a natural partnership, and we hope everybody who attends has a great time."

Red Hat Vice President of Corporate Communications David Burney added, "As an open source company, Red Hat believes in providing freedom and choice to technology users, and we are excited to partner with EFF to bring this great event to the Bay Area."

In addition to celebrating digital rights, this year's Freedom Fest is held in honor of the attorneys who volunteered their time to help win the Bunner case, defending Andrew Bunner and hundreds of other Linux users who hosted DeCSS code on their websites against a lawsuit brought by several large entertainment companies. The annual concert is also a chance for people interested in EFF issues to meet the staff in a relaxed atmosphere, enjoy some free music, and share food and drink. And for the first time ever, the event will be simulcast live over the Web at the EFF website.

The EFF Freedom Fest will take place on Wednesday, August 4th, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. The event is open to everyone attending LinuxWorld and all EFF supporters.

Freedom Fest website.

Contacts:

Shari Steele
Executive Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
ssteele@eff.org

July 16, 2004

Arca Foundation Gives $85,000 Quixote Foundation Gives $21,000 Rockefeller Family Fund Gives $25,000

San Francisco, CA -- The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been awarded three grants totaling $131,000 for its work leading the national litigation strategy on computerized voting. The first grant of $85,000 is from the Washington, DC-based Arca Foundation the second grant of $21,000 is from the Quixote Foundation of Madison, WI and the third grant is from the Rockefeller Family Fund based in New York City.

"The reports of problems using computerized voting machines increase with every election," said Cindy Cohn, Legal Director for EFF. "These machines have been hastily developed and poorly tested. Worse, since they do not create voter-verifiable paper ballots, there is no way to do a real recount or audit of election results." EFF has joined with other organizations in a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about the ways insecure voting machines threaten the democratic process. Cohn added, "We are thrilled to have the support of the Arca Foundation and the Quixote Foundation in this endeavor. Their grant-making focuses on empowering citizens to help shape public policy -- this is a great partnership."

Arca Foundation Executive Director Donna Edwards said, "This is a natural affiliation. Our Foundation is dedicated to the pursuit of social equity and justice -- if we lose the ability to have our votes verified, we give up our most basic constitutional rights. We are pleased to support EFF in this endeavor."

Lenore Hanisch of the Quixote Foundation added, "EFF is performing an essential public service, providing litigation services for computerized voting problems. We're very happy to help them be able to perform this important work."

EFF is developing a national legal and activist support network to tackle problems related to governments' use of computerized voting machines. The organization will litigate for e-voting reform and do outreach with traditional voting rights organizers before and after the November presidential election. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure accessible, secure voting on transparent, auditable systems to ensure that votes are counted as cast.

Lisa Guide, Associate Director of the Rockefeller Family Fund said, "Our purpose is to help citizens exercise the right to vote, and to make government more accountable and responsive. This grant to EFF helps fulfill our goals and the goals of this project."

Contacts:

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

July 15, 2004

Dept. of Homeland Security Puts Stake in the Heart of Passenger Profiling System

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said yesterday that development of CAPPS II - the government's controversial airline passenger surveillance program – will not continue. As reported by USA Today:

Asked Wednesday whether the program could be considered dead, Ridge jokingly gestured as if he were driving a stake through its heart and said, "Yes."
EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien said, "Finally, the Department of Homeland Security has recognized what EFF has been saying all along: the proposed CAPPS II system would be an ineffective, expensive, and unnecessary invasion of travelers' privacy."
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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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July 1, 2004

One Year Before the Broadcast Flag Locks Up DTV Signals, EFF Announces Plans for a "Build Your Own DTV" Cookbook

San Francisco - One year from today, on July 1, 2005, an FCC regulation known as the Broadcast Flag will lock up your digital television signals. But EFF's "DTV Liberation Project" aims to help the public keep over-the-air programming free.

The Broadcast Flag, which places copy controls on DTV signals, attempts to stop people from making digitally-perfect copies of television shows and redistributing them. It also stops people from making perfectly legitimate personal copies of broadcasts. More disturbing, the Broadcast Flag will outlaw the import and manufacture of a whole host of personal video recorders (PVRs), TiVo-like devices that send DTV signals into a computer for backup, editing and playback. After the Broadcast Flag regulations go into effect, all PVR technologies must be Flag-compliant and "robust" against user modification – and that means, once again, that the entertainment industry is trying to tell you what you can do with your own machines.

It's not too late for consumers to get their hands on Broadcast Flag-resistant PVRs. For the next year, DTV tuners can still be manufactured that make digitally-perfect recordings of broadcasts these tuners will continue to work even after the FCC's regulation takes effect. To help people get these endangered devices before it's too late, EFF today launched the Digital Television Liberation Project. The Project aims to create a "cookbook" that teaches technically-minded (and not-so-technically-minded) people how they can whip up their own fully-capable DTV devices. "We want to open the high-definition revolution to everyone, preserving the abilities to time-shift and manipulate media that we've come to expect," said Wendy Seltzer, EFF Staff Attorney and a leader of the DTV Liberation Project.

The DTV Liberation Project will use these PC-based PVRs as benchmarks, comparing the capabilities of the general-purpose computer to the limited subset of viewing options Broadcast Flag-compliant devices can offer. "When people see how many more features today's PVR has than next year's, we think they'll be as puzzled as we are by the FCC's choices to 'advance the DTV transition'," Seltzer said.

The Project, which is currently seeking donations of hardware, money, and volunteers to help develop the cookbook, has already built an HD-PVR around the free software MythTV package. Seltzer will be demonstrating that machine at DefCon in late July.

Contact:

Wendy Seltzer
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
wendy@eff.org

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