Riverside County, Voters Sue State Over Touch-Screen Ban
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 7, 2004
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA--Secretary of State Kevin Shelley violated state and federal accessibility laws when he decertified Diebold touch-screen voting systems, a group of voters with disabilities claimed in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
The voters joined Riverside County election officials in the suit, alleging that Shelley's order violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, the 2002 Help America Vote Act, along with state election laws.
Shelley banned the electronic voting systems in Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Orange counties after errors were found in the March 2 election.
Shelley's April 30 decision banned one-third of California's newly-acquired electronic voting systems. Shelley also asked the state's attorney general to investigate Diebold Election Systems Inc. for fraud, accusing the company of lying to officials about its AcuVote-TSx Voting System.
Touch-screen systems have been favored by many voters with disabilities that affect mobility, reading, hearing and vision because the systems have features that allow them to independently cast a private ballot. Federal law requires polling sites to have accessible voting systems in place by 2006.
The systems have been criticized in the past, however, for not creating a paper record of each vote -- making recounts impossible-- and for not being tamper-proof, thus allowing computer hackers to change election results.
"The Secretary's decertification orders will deny voters with disabilities the right to vote independently, in secret and without third party assistance, impose new unfunded costs on counties and create chaos and inequality in the November, 2004 election by requiring counties with electronic voting systems to go back to inferior paper based voting machines with higher rates of error, nullified votes and votes not recorded," the lawsuit states.
Attorney John E. McDermott, who represents Riverside County and the voters in the suit, told the Associated Press that he expects other counties will join the lawsuit.
Help America Vote Act of 2002 (Federal Election Commission)