04 June 2006

Spate of lawsuits target e-voting

USA TODAY - 6/4/2006

DENVER — Electronic voting machines, adopted widely after the disputed Florida ballot count in the 2000 presidential election, are under legal attack as primary election season heats up.

Lawsuits have been filed in at least six states, the most recent last week in Colorado, to block the purchase or use of computerized machines.

Voter Action, a non-partisan advocacy group, led the challenge filed Thursday against the state of Colorado and nine counties, as well as similar lawsuits in California and Arizona this spring and New Mexico last year. Court actions by others targeted the devices in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Most of the suits argue that the machines are vulnerable to software tampering, don't keep an easily recountable printed record and may miscount, switch or not record votes and even add phantom votes.

In California, one of eight states holding primaries Tuesday, a lawsuit in March led several counties to switch to printed ballots counted with optical scanners, a competing technology. Six of the eight states will have some electronic balloting, which records votes by touch screens.

Texas and Illinois had some problems using electronic voting machines during their March primaries.

About one-third of the USA's 3,114 counties use some electronic systems, according to Election Data Services, a consulting group. It says half the counties use optical scanners that read dots or marks that voters pencil in on ballots.

The rest vote by other means, mostly hand-counted paper ballots in smaller communities but also lever-type machines in New York and Connecticut.


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