E-Voting Lawsuit Planned in Georgia

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With additional reporting by Sarah Epting.

(APN) ATLANTA – A newly formed advocacy coalition VoterGA announced plans to sue the State of Georgia for denying the citizens of Georgia an elections system that will ensure that their votes count. The announcement was made at a downtown press conference at a hotel.

The lawsuit will be filed at 10 am on July 10, 2006, VoterGA said. The attorney for the group is Mr. Walker Chandler.

“What we’re trying to do is protect the future voting rights of nine million people,” Garland Favorito, one spokesperson for VoterGA, said. “All direct physical evidence of voter intent has been removed from Georgia elections.”

“We’re not suing against E-Voting in general. We’re just against implementing E-Voting that it can’t be verified, audited, or recounted,” Favorito said.

Also, the lawsuit will not attempt to get an injunction to halt the upcoming primary election. The organization is hopeful a judge may decide to do that, though, Favorito told Atlanta Progressive News in a phone interview.

“We don’t want to jeopardize the suit,” Favorito said.

VoterGA ultimately wants a judge to issue an injunction that would force fair elections systems; however, they’re just not specifying it needs to be next month.

“This is more of a long-term issue. Georgians are going to have to hope and pray for fair elections,” until VoterGA’s proposals are adopted, Chandler said.

“It’s going to take expert witnesses who can explain to any court why the methods being used are not reliable,” Chandler said.

VoterGA has not decided in which venue it will be filing suit, although they say the current E-Voting system in Georgia violates sections of the Georgia Constitution, State Elections Code, Equal Protections laws in Georgia and the US, and US Supreme Court rulings. All options are on the table, but they said they will most likely sue in state court.

The problem with the current E-Voting system through Diebold is that “fraud and error are undetectable,” Favorito said.

“In Ohio, there was a mix of things. In our state, there was 100% electronic voting. The potential is you can have the dirtiest election in the history of this state and it would be undetectable,” Mark Sawyer, of Defenders for Democracy and VoterGA, said.

“It’s important in Georgia that we do not rely upon trust. Trust is not the issue. Integrity is the issue,” Sawyer said.

Cox, who is now running for Governor, now says she supports a voter verifiable paper trail for electronic voting, but Diebold wants $17 million more to provide electronic voting systems that come with printers.

VoterGA raised three main changes that they want to see to restore voter confidence and elections integrity:

(1) Implementing voting equipment that reads or writes real ballots.

(2) Implement procedures to ensure that the machines counted votes accurately on election night.

(3) If discrepancies are found, allow a candidate a race recount at no charge to candidate or other parties.

Currently, the Diebold machines in use do not read or write ballots. Optical scan machines could do that, VoterGA said.

“You’ve got to be able to introduce an individual separate ballot. The word ballot is in the Constitution,” Favorito said.

“Did the Framers think a ‘ballot’ is going to be an electronic record?” Favorito said.

“It’s a matter of integrity. An honest administration might yield to a dishonest administration in the future,” Chandler said.

“What about recounts?” Chandler exclaimed.

“We’ll just plug in the machines and see what the machines say? That’s what we got the first time.” Chandler said.

Cathy Cox ignored the recommendations of her own voting commission in 2001 which said that there should be an independent audit paper trail, VoterGA said.

Cox also ignored two vendors with a voter verifiable paper ballot and audit trail, VoterGA said.

Legislation did pass the Georgia State Legislature which establishes a 2006 audit trail pilot, VoterGA said. However, only three of over 3000 precincts would have the pilot and the pilot is self-repealing.

Moreover, the Diebold machines in the pilot being used “cannot produce easily verifiable votes” because the votes go into a sealed canister,” which would take weeks to recount, Favorito said.

“This is the most underreported story in the last five years,” Favorito said.

“California, Nevada, Maryland, and Ohio have each officially concluded that the [same] voting systems, software, and procedures used in Georgia are inadequate to conduct elections in their states,” VoterGA’s presentation said.

For more information on the problems with Diebold, please see a 2005 article by Atlanta Progressive News’s Editor which ran on Buzzflash.com at http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/05/06/con05218.html.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor of Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com. Sarah Epting is a Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at sarah@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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