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Texas Secretary of State Backs Down

PRESS RELEASE
August 13, 2004

Agrees to Postpone Closed Voting Examiner Meetings in Face of ACLU Lawsuit

Austin, TX - The Texas Secretary of State today agreed to indefinitely postpone a meeting of the state's voting examiners following the filing of a lawsuit by the ACLU of Texas and a Texas voter. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is serving as co-counsel in the case. The lawsuit challenged the practice of holding closed meetings in violation of the state's Open Meetings Act.

Today, the parties decided to postpone an upcoming voting examiner meeting that had been set for August 18, 2004. As a result of the Secretary of State's decision, the emergency hearing in the case set for Monday, August 16 has been cancelled. Under the agreement, the Secretary of State and voting examiners are required to notify the plaintiffs at least 14 days before any subsequent meeting is held. The underlying lawsuit seeking to open the voting examiner meetings to public scrutiny is not affected and will proceed as planned.

"We are pleased that the voting examiners will not hold their August 18th closed meeting," said Adina Levin of ACLU-Texas. "However, we need to ensure that this will become a permanent solution instead of just a temporary one. We will proceed with this lawsuit until the public is guaranteed that the certification process of voting technology will be an open and transparent one."

Levin noted that it is unclear whether the Secretary of State's decision to postpone the upcoming meeting meant that future meetings would be open to the public. "We hope this is a sign that the Secretary of State is taking the time to ensure that future meetings comply with Open Meetings Act requirements, and not an attempt to find another way to keep Texas election systems meetings closed," said Levin. "We have not received any promise to that effect, and the Secretary of State has made no other indication that that will happen."

You can find more information at Texas Safe Voting.

Contacts:

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

Adina Levin
Director, Cyberliberties Project
ACLU-Texas
alevin@aclutx.org

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