Lawsuit challenges paperless machines in Pa.

Voter Action asks court to block paperless voting machines in most Pennsylvania counties.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

The nonprofit group Voter Action filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania yesterday to stop the use of electronic voting machines that do not include a paper audit trail. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports that the suit asks that the machines be decertified in 58 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties. The plaintiffs want the court to order the government to replace the machines with paper ballots.

Voter Action explained the action in a press release:

“The very integrity of the election process is at stake here,” said Mary Kohart, lead attorney for the plaintiffs and partner at law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. “In elections using these computerized voting systems, the machines can be subject to tampering and malfunctions where there is no independent record allowing either voters to verify their own votes or election officials to recount all votes if necessary.”

“The General Assembly has specified that electronic voting machines must be absolutely accurate, they must be reliable and they must have a ‘permanent physical record’ before they can be used in Pennsylvania,” said Michael Churchill, co-counsel for the plaintiffs and attorney with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP). “With the all-electronic voting systems certified by the Secretary of State, it’s impossible to ensure all votes are recorded and counted as intended by the voters.”

A similar lawsuit helped force New Mexico to use "optical scan" ballots earlier this year, Lowell Finley, an attorney with Voter Action said. Other suits involving paper-based voting systems have been filed in Arizona, Colorado and California. with the nonprofit group Voter Action, which has been involved in similar suits nationwide.

According to the plaintiffs, Pennsylvania has suffered numerous vote losses due to computer malfunction but without a paper trail, there is no way to prove it.

"There have been isolated allegations across the county for the last 10 years," Stephen J. Strahs, a plaintiff who is an elector in Montgomery County, said. "There is no possible way to prove that a vote count has been faulty.
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