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Maryland voters file petition against e-voting system

Eight Maryland voters have asked an appeals court to force the State Board of Elections to address alleged security risks in an electronic voting machine system and provide a voter-verified paper trail during elections.

The voters, some representing advocacy group TrueVoteMD.org, filed motions on Monday asking the Court of Appeals of Maryland to force the State Board of Elections to fix alleged problems with an e-voting system sold to the state by Diebold.

The plaintiffs accused the State Board of Elections of ignoring scientific and government studies that question the security of the Diebold e-voting machines and of ignoring a Maryland legislative requirement to include a voter-verified paper trail with an e-voting system.

Such a paper trail would allow voters to check their electronic votes against paper print-outs, which then can be used to audit the election results, said Linda Schade, director and co-founder of TrueVoteMD.org.

"What we are saying is that if these machines are used without a paper trail, it would be an illegal election," said Schade, a plaintiff in the case.

Both the State Board of Election's administrator, Linda Lamone, and Diebold have defended the e-voting systems in the past, and said the electronic systems are more accurate and just as secure as paper balloting.

TrueVoteMD.org and other e-voting critics complain of numerous problems that could arise from using e-voting machines without a verified paper trail. The potential problems range from programming mistakes to hackers intentionally changing votes. "It is time-sensitive and of concern to the public," Schade said. "There are random computer glitches. We have all had our computers crash."

Schade and other plaintiffs pointed to the state of California, which banned similar e-voting machines earlier this year because of concerns about security.

On Tuesday, in a court-ordered mediation session, the two sides did not make progress. Schade said, "I was disappointed because the voters of Maryland were not served."

Grant Gross writes for IDG News Service


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