Voters file lawsuit over touch-screen machines
DENVER – In a move that could affect voting across Colorado, more than a dozen people filed a lawsuit Thursday hoping to prevent the use of some electronic voting machines that they say aren’t reliable or accessible to disabled voters.Attorneys with the Wheeler Trigg Kennedy law firm said machines made by Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S and Hart InterCivic can be easily hacked and people can’t be sure that their votes are being recorded correctly.They also claim the devices, most of them with touchscreens similar to bank automatic teller machines, don’t provide a reliable way to recount ballots if a vote is disputed.”That kind of security breach threatens the very cornerstone of democracy and that’s the right to vote,” said Andrew Efaw, one of six lawyers representing the voters at no charge.The lawsuit names nine Colorado counties, though the attorneys said nearly every county is planning to use some kind of touch-screen machine or a similar model as early as the Aug. 8 primary. Secretary of State Gigi Dennis is named as a defendant along with county commissioners in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, Jefferson, La Plata, Larimer and Weld counties.Dennis spokeswoman Dana Williams said the machines are reliable and that each of the four brands used in Colorado allow voters to doublecheck a paper record of their votes before their ballot is cast. She said the lawsuit would not delay the primary or the general election in November because counties would revert back to the machines they used in previous elections, which they all have kept on hand.The Help America Vote Act, enacted after the disputed presidential election in 2000, requires that each polling station have a voting machine that allows disabled voters to cast their ballots on their own and in secrecy.Diebold spokesman David Bear said touchscreens are more accurate because they remind voters if they forgot to vote in one race or if they voted for two candidates, potentially nullifying their vote. He said those benefits, and the help they promise to the disabled, are more important than the security “what if’s” raised by critics.”There’s never been a factual security issue with a touchscreen,” Bear said.Critics of touch-screen machines say their manufacturers aggressively lobbied to tilt the federal legislation to favor the use of their products to meet that requirement. In Colorado, the lawsuit alleges that Dennis allowed the makers of the machines to come up with security requirements for their machines.Williams said independent monitors certified the machines for the federal government. In Colorado, she said the secretary of state’s staff then tested the machines. She said documents outlining how they were tested could not be released because they contain specific information about each machine that could damage their security.
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