Displaying political courage too rarely seen, the Volusia County Council today voted to reject Diebold's proposal for a paperless e-voting system and instead adopt a more expensive contract with competitor ES&S. This contract will eventually lead to the use of a ballot marking system that will ensure an auditable, voter-verified process.

The County Council had been subject to powerful pressure from Diebold, the National Federation of the Blind, and the state of Florida -- including threats of criminal sanctions -- to adopt Diebold's system. In July, the NFB filed suit against the Council, demanding that the County adopt the NFB's favored system even though federal accessibility requirements do not kick in until January 1st.

EFF, on behalf of a coalition of voting integrity groups (including the Handicapped Adults of Volusia County, VerifiedVoting.org, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and VotersUnite!) filed a series of friend-of-the-court briefs opposing the NFB's suit and supporting the County's right to pursue the best possible voting system. A federal district court and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the County and EFF's amicus coalition and refused to force the County to comply with the NFB's demands. In the end, after careful deliberation, the County entered into a creative contract with ES&S that will allow the County to purchase ES&S's e-voting system and trade in its paperless touchscreen machines for the Automark ballot marking system when the Automark is certified by the state of Florida.

Let me repeat: the County Council voted to spend more money and withstand withering political pressure in order to protect the integrity of the County's voting process. Having no medals to hand out, I will instead offer the four council members who voted for transparency and accountability my heartfelt thank you.

You should do the same.

Frank Bruno: fbruno@co.volusia.fl.us
Art Giles: agiles@co.volusia.fl.us
Carl Persis: cpersis@co.volusia.fl.us
Dwight Lewis: ddlewis@co.volusia.fl.us

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