Decision Delays Inquiry Into State's History of Voting Machine Problems
San Francisco - The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a critical lawsuit aimed at improving the security and integrity of Ohio's voting technology will be put on hold indefinitely. The ruling halts case proceedings until the appeal of the government's motion to dismiss is decided and seriously jeopardizes the chances that critical procedural improvements will be in place by the time voters enter polling places in November.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) had intervened in this lawsuit, originally brought by the League of Women Voters of Ohio, in the fall of 2005 on behalf of voter Jeanne White. White's case focuses on the issues surrounding electronic voting and seeks to increase the security and accuracy of Ohio's e-voting technology, as well as to dramatically improve state and local procedures that leave the integrity of the state's e-voting equipment in doubt.
Ohio's closely watched and widely criticized election of 2004 exposed a wide range of problems, complaints, and irregularities in its voting technologies. Among other things, voters reported unacceptably long lines, inadequately trained pollworkers, and voting machines that failed to record their votes correctly. Similar problems were reported in the 2005 elections and in the May 2, 2006, primary, including a chaotic election in Cuyahoga County where election officials have launched a formal investigation. Ohio, however, has no requirements that counties keep formal track of such problems, much less report them to state officials or to the public.
"We had hoped the appellate court would follow the trial court's lead and let the case progress," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman "Without this expedited schedule, the case won't be able to marshal changes to Ohio's voting systems before this November's elections. The state owes it to its citizens to ensure that the problems of the past are identified and won't be repeated. It has, so far, failed to do so."
EFF intends to challenge the Sixth Circuit's recent ruling and to continue to move Ms. White's case forward as quickly as possible. EFF is working with the law firms of Kerger and Associates and Zuckerman, Spaeder, Goldstein, Taylor & Kolker as it pursues this case.
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