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California Voters File Lawsuit to Halt Use or Purchase of Diebold Electronic Voting System PDF Print Email
By VoterAction   
March 21, 2006

Illegal Computer Code, Security and Disability Access Problems Cited

 

A group of 24 California voters, including Dolores Huerta, social justice activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, announced at a news conference today that they have filed a lawsuit against California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson to nullify his “conditional” certification of the Diebold TSx electronic voting system and to block purchase or use of the TSx in California due to serious security, verifiability and disability access problems.

“The right to a secure vote, which is recorded and counted as intended, is a basic tenet of our democracy, and Californians deserve no less,” said Dolores Huerta, social activist and Plaintiff in the California voters’ lawsuit. “Diebold systems have failed in security tests and in communities around the country.  In certifying the Diebold machines, the Secretary has sidestepped his duty to deny certification to voting systems that violate state and federal standards.”

 “A crisis is brewing in California when computerized slot machines used by gamblers in the state are more secure and auditable than the electronic voting systems used by California voters to decide the future direction of their government,” said Lowell Finley, Esq., counsel for the plaintiffs and co-director of Voter Action. “Expert testing has confirmed that the Diebold system contains “interpreted” code --programming that is vulnerable to malicious hacking, and prohibited by the California Elections Code.  The Diebold touch screen voting system is a severe security risk, and does not accommodate all disabled voters as required by law.”   

“California voters have the right to vote and to have their votes counted correctly.  The last thing we need is to start using voting machines that deny access to disabled voters and create an unacceptable risk of fraud and vote manipulation," said John Eichhorst, co-counsel for the voter plaintiffs, and a partner with Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin.


“People with low vision want meaningful access, not token access, in our voting experience,” said Bernice Kandarian, President of the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International. “Just because I need an accessible voting system does not mean that I believe that it is acceptable to vote on a system that is not trustworthy and hard to recount or audit. I too want to know that my vote will be counted by the most secure method. The Diebold machines are not only insecure and hard to recount or audit, but they also fail to provide meaningful access for many disabled voters.” 

The lawsuit also challenges the Secretary of State's imposition of "conditions" to the certification which seek to impose new physical security requirements and liability responsibility upon County Election Officials.

“The Secretary of State's conditions are new, untested, regulations that were adopted without the benefit of appropriate expert analysis and public hearing.  These new regulations are not the cure for the acknowledged vulnerabilities built into this voting system," said Mr. Eichhorst.

As part of their case, the plaintiffs will present the expert testimony of computer security experts Douglas W. Jones of the University of Iowa and Dr. Aviel D. Rubin of Johns Hopkins University concerning the serious security problems inherent in the Diebold TSx technology.

 “Voter Action is pleased to support this important lawsuit, which will be watched closely by states across the country facing or soon to face similar voting security issues and rushed purchasing decisions.  We know from the research of independent experts that Diebold technology is not the answer. There are better, less expensive and secure options that do meet the needs of those with a wide range of disabilities, ”says Holly Jacobson, co-director of Voter Action.   

The lawsuit was filed with support from Voter Action, a non-profit organization providing legal, research, and logistical support for grassroots efforts to ensure the integrity of elections in the United States. The action was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California in San Francisco, prior to the Voter Action news conference at the offices of the Howard Rice law firm in San Francisco.

Voter Action, www.voteraction.org, with members across the country, recently led successful litigation in New Mexico to block purchase and use of the types of voting machines that are most error prone and vulnerable to tampering.  In addition to California, Voter Action is currently supporting similar efforts in New York, Pennsylvania and other states.
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