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EFF Press Release Archives

Press Releases: July 2005

July 21, 2005

Decision Confirms County Council's Ability to Purchase Accessible, Auditable Equipment

Orlando, FL - A federal District Court judge in Florida ruled today that Volusia County is not required to purchase touchscreen voting machines that do not produce a voter-verifiable paper trail. Pending appeal, the county may now move forward with its plans to purchase voting equipment that is both accessible to disabled voters and that creates an auditable paper trail to protect against errors and fraud.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Florida attorney Jeff Liggio filed an emergency friend-of-the-court brief in the case on behalf of disabled residents of Volusia County who opposed the purchase of the paperless machines. The brief, supporting Volusia County Council members who seek to purchase an alternative voting system, was submitted on behalf of the Handicapped Voters of Volusia County (HAVOC) in opposition to a lawsuit filed July 5th by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). The NFB suit sought to force the county to spend approximately $700,000 of state funds on Diebold voting equipment that the county has repeatedly rejected as inferior to the accessible, paper-producing AutoMARK system offered by ES&S.

"The District Court correctly found that Volusia County was right all along," said Matt Zimmerman, EFF staff attorney. "County officials have shown a tremendous amount of courage in resisting pressure to make a misguided decision that could harm voters. The county has already identified a solution that provides better accessibility as well as creates a voter-verified paper audit trail. The county now has the opportunity to put that system into place in the near future."

Added David Dixon, president of HAVOC, "We're very, very pleased with this decision. We look forward to working with the county to help implement a system that protects the rights of all voters."

In his opinion, District Court Judge John Antoon rejected the argument that a Florida statute required immediate purchase of machines that can't be properly audited, writing, "The Court must assume that, if the Florida legislature had intended to place a legal obligation on counties to purchase electronic voting systems, it would have clearly expressed as much...It did not do so." The Court also noted the benefits of a verifiable paper trail, stating that it is "a feature which has proved valuable in at least one of Florida's past elections."

The NFB has appealed the ruling and EFF and HAVOC will participate in the appeal proceedings as well.

Contact:

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

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July 14, 2005

July 15 Hearing Set in Florida

Orlando, FL - On Thursday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Florida attorney Jeff Liggio filed an emergency amicus brief on behalf of Volusia County disabled residents who oppose the purchase of paperless touchscreen voting machines. The brief, supporting Volusia County Council members who are seeking to purchase an alternate voting system that better addresses accessibility issues and also produces a voter-verified paper ballot, was submitted in opposition to a lawsuit filed July 5th by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

The NFB suit seeks to force the County to spend approximately $700,000 of state funds on Diebold voting equipment that the County has repeatedly rejected as inferior to the accessible, paper-producing AutoMARK system offered by ES&S.

A hearing in federal District Court that may decide the issue is set for 1:30 pm in Orlando. Handicapped Adults of Volusia County (HAVOC) president David Dixon will be in attendance and will be available afterwards for comment. He can be reached at (386) 871-0852.

"Accessibility and auditability should not be conflicting values when it comes to voting equipment," said Dixon. "National advocates for the blind do the disabled community of Volusia County a disservice when they presume to speak on our behalf for flawed systems that we do not want. With their support, we could have worked together to promote technology that better assists disabled voters at the same time that it ensured that security and auditability concerns were met. For our part, we will continue to support officials in their efforts to find voting equipment that best protects all voters in the County."

County Council members say that the County has adequate time to consider other technology options before the October election. ES&S continues to work towards Florida state certification for its AutoMARK machines and has offered to rent certified paperless touchscreen machines to the County as a temporary solution in the event that AutoMARK certification isn't achieved in time.

"The Volusia County Council should be applauded for seeking a voting solution that benefits every voter," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "The County has made it clear that it is diligently exploring every option in order to find the best result available under the law. Hopefully, the Court will permit the County to do its job."

More on e-voting.

Contact:

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

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July 14, 2005

EFF and Coalition Back E-voting Challenge

Trenton, NJ - In the shadow of a lawsuit demanding that New Jersey update state laws to reflect its increasing use of electronic voting machines, New Jersey's acting governor recently signed into law legislation that will require all voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper record by 2008.

While applauding the law's requirement of voter-verified paper records, litigants in the case vowed to continue their suit to ensure that New Jersey voters do not have to wait until 2008 for a secure vote. The case, called Gusciora v. Codey, was filed by the Rutgers Law School Constitutional Litigation Clinic on behalf of New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora.

Just prior to the signing of the law, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. Joining EFF was a broad coalition of organizations with proven dedication to voting rights issues, including the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, VerifiedVoting.org, People For the American Way Foundation, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and VotersUnite!

EFF and fellow amici argued that New Jersey had failed in its obligations to provide laws and regulations appropriate for its use of electronic voting machines. This failure leaves New Jersey voters and election officials at the mercy of an election code aimed at prior generations of voting technology, mandating the use of ill-trained certification technicians and imposing nonsensical mechanical requirements.

With the state implicitly acknowledging the weakness of its voting laws, the importance of the Gusciora lawsuit is clear. "We applaud the legislature and governor for protecting future New Jersey voters, but today's voters remain at risk," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Under the current law, voters will for the next two-and-a-half years be forced to cast ballots on a voting technology that was programmed in secret, that does not preserve a tangible record of the voter's intent, and has a troubling performance history. Today's voters and the democratic process deserve better."

Rutgers professor Penny Venetis, who filed the lawsuit, agrees that it is critical to protect voters between now and 2008. While applauding the passage of the legislation, she noted, "Unconstitutional electronic voting machines that can be easily manipulated to alter votes are still being used in New Jersey. It is critical that the New Jersey courts ensure that every vote cast between now and 2008 be counted accurately."

Here is EFF's amicus brief in the case.

Here is the appellate brief.

Learn more about
e-voting.

Contact:

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

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July 12, 2005

BayFF Public Forum in San Francisco July 19

San Francisco, CA - To kick off the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) 15th anniversary celebrations this summer, EFF will hold a special BayFF exploring the legal issues surrounding blogging. This will be a roundtable discussion, open to the public, and will include EFF staff, local celebrity bloggers, and blog tool gurus.

BayFF is a series of regular public events EFF holds in the San Francisco Bay Area. Next week's event will be Tuesday, July 19, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the 111 Minna Gallery in downtown San Francisco.

This BayFF will feature a discussion with EFF staff attorney Kurt Opsahl, Fleshbot.com assistant editor Violet Blue, UC Berkeley social networks researcher danah boyd, grassroots media activist Dan Gillmor, Napsterization.org editor Mary Hodder, and SFist.com editor Jackson West. Refreshments and birthday cake will be served.

Contact:

Katina Bishop
Projects Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
katina@eff.org

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July 6, 2005

EFF Adds New Section on Labor Law to Legal Guide for Bloggers

San Francisco, CA - Blogging can affect a blogger's work life in countless ways. Some people have been fired for things they've said in their blogs, while others worry that their bosses may be monitoring their blogging activities when they're on break. To address these and other questions about blogging and the workplace, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has added a labor law section to its Legal Guide for Bloggers.

"We want to help bloggers understand how labor law protects them, so they can protect and defend their right to blog about the workplace," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl.

With help from Stacey Leyton, a labor lawyer with Altshuler, Berzon, Nussbaum, Rubin & Demain, EFF has gathered extensive information about everything from "whistle-blogging" to ways that the law protects bloggers who are organizing with their fellow employees for better work conditions. EFF's Legal Guide for Bloggers is a regularly updated guide to the wide range of legal issues confronting bloggers, and it has been linked to more than 100,000 times since being introduced last month.

The next BayFF, EFF's free Bay Area event series, will focus on blogging and the law. It will be held July 19, and will include a roundtable discussion with special guests Violet Blue (Fleshbot.com), Jackson West (SFist.com), and Mary Hodder (Napsterization.org).

Contacts:

Annalee Newitz
Policy Analyst
Electronic Frontier Foundation
annalee@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

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