Federal court upholds California e-voting ban


Federal court upholds California e-voting ban

A federal judge has upheld a directive that decertified touch-screen voting machines and withheld future certification until vendors of those systems could meet specific security requirements.

The decision arose from a lawsuit, Benavidez v. Shelley, brought by disability rights advocates and four California counties that oppose California secretary of state Kevin Shelley's VVPAT requirement and decertification orders for direct-recording equipment (DRE) voting systems. 

The plaintiffs argued that banning the systems would disenfranchise visually or physically impaired voters. 

In an order issued by the US District Court for the Central District of California, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper wrote that "the evidence does not support the conclusion that the elimination of the DREs would have a discriminatory effect on the visually or manually impaired". 

Cooper also said that the secretary of state's "decision to suspend the use of DREs pending improvement in their reliability is certainly a rational one, designed to protect the voting rights of the state's citizens."

Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the court's decision a "landmark" ruling. 

"The court said in clear, unambiguous terms that requiring a paper trail for e-voting machines is consistent with the obligation to assure the accuracy of election results," Cohn said. "That's an enormous victory for secure elections." 

The decision comes at a time when state and local elections officials are scrambling to ensure that e-voting systems in different states are reliable, accurate and can be secured from tampering in time for the November election. 

Dan Verton writes for IDG News Service

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