California Voters’ Suit to Block Electronic Voting Machines Remanded Back to State Court
July 18, 2006
Oakland, CA — As a first-step to victory in a California voters’ lawsuit against Secretary of State Bruce McPherson to block the State’s use of Diebold touch-screen electronic voting systems – which have a well-documented history of security, reliability, and verifiability problems,” the United States District Court in Oakland today entered an order remanding the voter plaintiffs’ lawsuit to the California Superior Court in San Francisco, where it was originally filed on March 21, 2006. The Court’s decision in Holder v. McPherson, et al. rejected an effort by California Attorney Bill Lockyer, Secretary of State McPherson’s attorney, to transfer the case from state to federal court.
The Court’s decision was announced today by the law firm of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco and the Law Offices of Lowell Finley in Berkeley, co-counsels for the California voter plaintiffs, and Voter Action, which is supporting the legal action in California. Voter Action is also supporting similar cases in Colorado, Arizona, and New York. In response to the California voters’ lawsuit, elections officials in seven California counties have signed affidavits that they will not use Diebold touch screens for the November elections. Twelve California counties remain in the suit, as well as Secretary of State McPherson.
In her written order granting the plaintiffs’ motion to remand their lawsuit to California Superior Court in San Francisco, Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong of the US District Court for Northern California concluded that the Attorney General’s attempt to move the case to federal court was “legally improper”.
“The Court’s decision is a victory for California voters, who need to know if their right to have their votes recorded and counted accurately will be protected, and local elections officials who will need time to make alternative arrangements if the Court agrees that the only way to protect those rights is to prohibit use of Diebold touch-screen voting machines,” said Jason Takenouchi, an attorney for the plaintiffs and an associate at of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin.
“Had the Secretary of State and Attorney General succeeded, the courts of their own state would have been stripped of their power to decide whether California’s constitution and election laws prohibit use of Diebold touch-screen electronic voting machines, which are vulnerable to hacking, losing and switching votes, and are difficult if not impossible to audit,” said Lowell Finley, co-counsel for the California voter plaintiffs, co-director of Voter Action, and election law expert. “The only thing they gained was months of delay, leaving voters and county elections officials uncertain about what voting equipment they will be using in the November elections.”
“The California voter plaintiffs have a powerful and well-documented challenge to the Secretary of State’s illegal certification of the Diebold touch-screens. The Secretary of State is asleep at the switch, and only the court can prevent a train wreck in the November election,” said Lowell Finley.
“The Secretary of State has abdicated his duty, as it is impossible to make electronic voting systems acceptably transparent, accurate and secure as required by law,” said Holly Jacobson, co-director of Voter Action. “Optical -scan paper balloting is a much better, less expensive, and more secure option, which is why it has been selected in New Mexico, Michigan, and hundreds of counties across the country.”
Voter Action, www.voteraction.org, is a not for profit organization providing legal, research and logistical support for grassroots efforts to ensure the integrity of elections in the United States. Voter Action supported successful litigation in New Mexico to block purchase and use of the types of voting machines that are most prone to error and most vulnerable to tampering, and is currently supporting similar efforts in Arizona, Colorado, and New York. Voter Action is a project of the International Humanities Center, a 501c3 non-profit organization.
Thank you for your continued support of Voter Action.