Nonprofit Sues Alameda County to Stop E-Voting
October 6, 2006 1:04 PM
The nonprofit group Voter Action filed a lawsuit against the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' office last Wednesday to prevent the use of a new electronic voting system in the November election.
The lawsuit adds to the growing concerns about electronic voting machines, an issue that is blurring partisan lines.
Gabriel Shepard, SF State political science major who is registered Green Party, said he thinks his vote did not count in the 2004 presidential election.
“When I voted in 2004 I was not even asked for my I.D.,” said the 22-year-old who voted in San Diego County in 2004.
“I used a touch-screen computer to vote, which had the option of reviewing your vote. I wonder how many people actually reviewed their vote. How did the poll workers know it was me voting if my I.D. was never asked for?”
Voter Action said Alameda County has not had their touch-screen machines tested for validity by an outside group amid the denial of such a charge by the county. Alameda County has not responded to a request for comment.
The not-for-profit group’s Web site argues privatized electronic voting systems have been shown to have the most severe security risks and records of inaccuracy and unreliability.
Alameda County encountered concerns in the 2004 election with voting machines built by the Texas group Diebold Election Systems, the same group sued in Colorado last June for providing machines computer scientists discovered could be hacked into to change vote tabulation without a trace.
According to the voter education organization California Voter Foundation, on June 1, Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Green Party members joined Voter Action in a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s Secretary of State Gigi Dennis’ decision to allow these machines.
Judge Lawrence Manzanares of the Denver District Court said Dennis’ office “failed to develop minimum security standards, as required by state law, and did an ‘abysmal’ job of documenting the testing during its certification process.”
Manzanares ordered Dennis to comply with state law and adopt security standards for electronic voting machines and retest the systems prior to approving their use in any upcoming elections.
Concerned about security issues, SF State broadcasting major William Riordan, 24, said he has decided to use absentee voting from now on.
"I don’t want to stress over what is happening at the polls with whatever machines they may be using. Voting with an absentee ballot makes me feel comfortable that my vote is being counted,” said the registered Democrat.
California Senator Barbara Boxer and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd recently introduced a bill that would provide paper ballots for use in the November election to states that choose to. California still uses paper ballots.
According to the City and County of San Francisco Department of Elections, the city will continue to use paper ballots in the November election, and will be equipped with Optech Eagles, which scan ballots optically. People who are skeptical about the validity of electronic voting may turn to absentee voting, which is mailed in.
“Scandal can happen with vote tabulation regardless of the system used,” said Morgan Shidler, 23, SF State political science graduate who graduated last May. “In 2004 I worked at a polling place where I could have easily grabbed hundreds of ballots and walked out with them. I think our voting process will eventually go completely electronic, but the kinks must be worked out."
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