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Law Guarantees VVPAT, Hand Audits, and Durable Paper Ballots
New Law Now Only Requires Governor's Signature
By John Gideon on 6/21/2006 9:16am PT  

Guest blogged by John Gideon

Late last night the Arizona Legislature took the steps necessary to pass legislation that will guarantee the voters in the state have more transparency and auditability in their elections. The bill passed the House of Representatives 51-0 then immediately went to the Senate who passed it 25-3.

I received an email that originated from Arizona state Representative Ted Downing last night that says:

Dear Fellow Patriots,

SB1557 passed the House of Representatives with a 51-0 vote! Then, it immediately passed the Senate 25 to 3! It is now on its way to our Good Governor’s desk. As planned, it includes the Paton Amendment that I helped draft (see Star description below). Karen Osborn, the Maricopa County Elections Director calls this one of the most significant election reform bills in decades.
This election reform bill is the result of three years of working with the Pima County Democratic Party and the great work of Dr. Tom Ryan, Bill Risner, Esq., our current and former Pima County Democratic Party Chairs, and many, many more dedicated individuals. I want to specially thank each and every one of you for your dedication, your hard work, and your support in working for election integrity.

Now focus on the Governor to make certain that she signs it right away. I am confident she will. It will become law upon her signature, since it contains an emergency provision. We still must await Department of Justice approval which should be expedited because of the emergency provision. At that point, hand counts will no longer be illegal and we will have a first-level audit of the election system. This is, however, just the beginning.

Politics is a team effort. As hard as it may be for many to accept, the East-Mesa Republican Senator Karen Johnson merits thank you emails, (kjohnson@azleg.gov), as does Karen Osborne, kosborne@risc.maricopa.gov (602) 506-7960, and yes, Brad Nelson, brad.nelson@pima.gov (520) 631-3939. Even Rep. Russell Pearce (rpearce@azleg.gov) should be thanked, yes, that’s right and I know its hard, but he fought to assure that our elections are fair. We will continue to disagree on almost every other issue, but he wants a fair count.

I hope each PC will take the time next year to come up to visit the Legislature and witness your legislature at work. Those of you who have tell me that it is not what they imagined.

You are true patriots for protecting our system of government just as those brave men and women did at the founding of this great nation. Thank you and bless you.

Ted Downing
State Representative LD28
tdowning@azleg.state.az.us
Capitol 602 926 5108 toll free 800 352-8494 ext 6-5108 Capitol fax 602
417 3128 Legislative profile:
http://www.azleg.state.a...ersPage.asp?Member_ID=16
professional profile: www.ted-downing.com

The Arizona Daily Star article mentioned in Representative Downing's email can be found here.

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Busby/Bilbray 'Emergency Townhalls' and Some RFK Jr. E-Voting Litigation to Come...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2006 6:33pm PT  

As readers have likely noticed, the Busby/Bilbray issue has sucked me into its vortex (or vice versa?) for the moment. Necessarily. I'll hope BRAD BLOG readers with interests in other non-Busby/Bilbray items will understand, forgive and realize that it's just me here for the most part at this time, though David Edwards and John Gideon are able to jump in with other items as their time allows.

Further, I believe the Busby/Bilbray issue merits the attention currently being given to it, both on the blog and behind the scenes, since it has ramifications for every election in this country come November (after which it will be too late to do anything about what needs to be done now concerning the security of unsecure electronic voting machines).

With that then, two small points for now about which I'll have more details in the days ahead..."Emergency Townhall Meetings" are now being organized to deal with these issues both in Los Angeles and San Diego. In LA, there will be such an event with myself, and several other speakers (details soon) on Tuesday the 27th at 8pm @ the Venice United Methodist Church. In SD on Wednesday the 28th, there will be another event, specific time/location to come shortly. A press conference may be held in conjuction in San Diego next week as well. As mentioned, details forthcoming on all of the above. If you're anywhere in the area, I hope you will turn out. It matters.

Also, yes, as some have asked, I can confirm the item now posted at RAW STORY wherein Bobby Kennedy is quoted as saying in an interview: "I would say that very soon we'll be announcing lawsuits against some of the individuals and companies involved."

Such litigation is, in fact, in the works and has been for some time. Beyond that, it would be imprudent of me to give any further details at this time for a number of reasons. But you've now got still more to look forward to.

Beyond that, feel free to use this as an Open Thread to discuss any or all of the above...or anything else about which I haven't had time to do any reporting over this past week....

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Guest Blogger Jeeni Criscenzo Calls on Every Candidate to 'Voice their Objection to this Glaring Breach of Security!'
The Democratic U.S. House (CA-49) Nominee on Problems Seen in the Recent SD County Election, Proposed Short-Term Solutions, Says Every Voter 'Should be Outraged'...
By Jeeni Criscenzo on 6/19/2006 7:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by Jeeni Criscenzo

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jeeni Criscenzo is now the Democratic nominee running against incumbent Republican Rep. Darryl Issa for the U.S. House seat in California's 49th congressional district. In her guest blog below, she speaks about some of the horrendous outrages and other disastrous election administration she witnessed in San Diego County's Election on June 6th. She was a primary candidate that day, the same day as the now-questionable Busby/Bilbray race which was run on easily-hacked Diebold voting machines sent home overnight with poll workers prior to the election. Those "sleepovers" are in direct contravention of both state and federal laws and regulations implimented specifically in regard to Diebold voting systems. Thus, ignoring those rules and laws rendering them illegal for use in that election.

Criscenzo's district is split across both San Diego County and Riverside County (who also have their own share of problems with their County Registrar of Voters), so her election was run on the same presumed-corrupted machines as those used in the Busby/Bilbray race.

I spoke with her at some length last night, and I'm happy to see that, unlike so many Democratic candidates --- including Busby --- she is now more than willing to stand up and raise hell about these very clear outrages. While I have several concerns about her short-term suggested solution of using Absentee Ballots to fight back against the rise of the machines, her perspective is a unique one which deserves to be heard. She makes many points about which I wholeheartedly agree. I'll let you (and her) discuss any concerns in comments here.

No matter the nuanced quibbles, I'd urge you to support candidates like Criscenzo who are willing to speak out loudly and clearly about what the hell is going on here as we all work to find possible solutions to the ongoing and rapid crumbling of our current electoral system. Her campaign website, for more info or to send your support, is right here. --- BF

=============

Want Voting Integrity - Just Mail It!
by Jeeni Criscenzo

There has been a lot of talk since the California elections last week about the integrity of the vote count, particularly in the run-off election in the 50th District between Francine Busby and Brian Bilbray. It's not surprising that Busby's supporters are dubious of the results: polls showed Busby ahead by 3 to 7 points in the days before the election. An apparent Bilbray win is explained away as the result of a last minute blunder by Busby. If you plan to fix an election where the candidate you want to win is behind in the polls, you need to create a reason for the sudden change on election day, and there it was - Voila! - a last minute slip-of-the-tongue blasted throughout the country by the lock-step right-wing media.

As a candidate who won by a landslide (I was unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Congress, CA District 49), I'm in the fortunate position of being able to look into the election process in San Diego without being called a sore loser.

I made some troubling discoveries on Election Day when I visited 37 precincts in Oceanside as a roving poll monitor (or as Carol Hilton, my friend and monitoring partner, dubbed us --- "Poll Cats"). So last Friday, I visited the Registrar of Voters office to ask questions and to see for myself how the count was being handled....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Was it Stolen? 'Only Answer is Yes,' says Schakowsky who Claims DCCC to Announce Steps Soon to Avoid 'Repeat Performance'
EXCLUSIVE: Complete Text of Prepared Remarks from today's 'Take Back America' Conference...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2006 6:54pm PT  

I just got off the phone with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) who reportedly wowed 'em a few hours ago during her speech (posted in full below) on the closing afternoon of the "Take Back America" conference being held in Washington D.C.

In her remarks, Schakowsky apologized for "not taking seriously enough the allegations that the 2004 election was stolen." She now feels it was, and claims that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will be launching an initiative. From today's speech:

I apologize for not taking seriously enough the allegations that the 2004 election was stolen. After reading Bobby Kennedy's article in Rolling Stone, "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?", I am convinced that the only answer is yes. He documents how 357,000 Ohio voters, the vast majority Democrats, "were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted...more than enough to shift the results." Watch for the DCCC to take some very public steps in the near future to ward off a repeat performance. In the meantime, there needs to be a citizens' effort starting now to assess the machines, the ballots, the registration process within each and every election jurisdiction in each and every swing district and state, in the case of Senate races. Where the situation looks perilous, go to the media, raise a stink, demand changes. This is a great project for the many of you who have been diligently working to guarantee fair and accurate elections.

Raise a stink? Can do. So can you! Sign Velvet Revolution's petition declaring "No Confidence" in the Busby/Bilbray race!

(Hat tip to my buddy Peter B. Collins, who is in DC to cover the conference, for his quick phone call alert after Schakowsky's speech earlier this afternoon!)

Schakowsky's prepared statement from today's Take Back America conference speech follows in full...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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CNN Anchor Files 6th Report, in As Many Days, on Electronic Voting Machines: 'Democracy for Sale'
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2006 8:19pm PT  

Yesterday, Lou Dobbs did his 6th straight report on the dangers of E-Voting. Today he did his 7th report in a row, we hope to have that for you tomorrow.

In yesterday's report, Dobbs introduced it by describing the "rising doubts" about Electronic Voting Machines and said those doubts "about their accuracy and integrity threaten to undermine confidence in our democracy." Right on, Lou.

The report even quotes from last year's landmark GAO report on Electronic Voting, broken here last October, and unreported by CNN (or virtually anyone else in the media) at all until yesterday! (See the graphic at upper right)

Attorney Lowell Finley of VoterAction.org, the non-partisan group filing lawsuits to stop these systems around the country, is quoted as saying, "The real danger with electronic voting is with insider fraud, who just need a few minutes of access to a voting machine or to a tabulating computer and they can wreak havoc."

Dobbs closed the segment yesterday, incredulously, with this:

DOBBS: This is --- this is becoming a very, very troubling exercise in that we have people defending results who can't even defend the process or the technology because it's proprietary and it's not being shared. And therefore, it's not auditable...And without that ability, how do you conduct a recount reliably and transparently?

We'll have a report on one of those "people defending results," Michael Haas, the Registrar of Voters in San Diego County, where the results of the 50th Congressional district U.S. House race have been corrupted by his cavalier lack of concern about the security of Diebold voting systems used in the race. He seems to have no concerns, as Finley mentioned, about "insider fraud," or of the concept that "a few minutes of access to a voting machine...can wreak havoc." More on that tomorrow.

The video of Dobbs' 6th report in a row (compliments of David Edwards, natch) is linked below:


-- Video in Streaming Flash format...
-- Video in Windows Media format...

The complete text-transcript of yesterday's report follows...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Quotes only Supporters of E-Voting in Article Today
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2006 1:11pm PT  

It looked promising for a start. USA Today files a report today headlined "Spate of lawsuits target e-voting".

As we've been calling for for some time, a national media outlet begins to connect some of the many "local" dots around the country. Then, of course, they blow it.

Here's the good news, early in the story (all stuff we've reported long ago, but happy to see it reported here, of course):

Electronic voting machines, adopted widely after the disputed Florida ballot count in the 2000 presidential election, are under legal attack as primary election season heats up..

Lawsuits have been filed in at least six states, the most recent last week in Colorado, to block the purchase or use of computerized machines.

Voter Action, a non-partisan advocacy group, led the challenge filed Thursday against the state of Colorado and nine counties, as well as similar lawsuits in California and Arizona this spring and New Mexico last year. Court actions by others targeted the devices in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
...
Texas and Illinois had some problems using electronic voting machines during their March primaries.

No mention of other "some problems" in primaries so far this year in Ohio, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, etc. But okay. What gets us is that the story then goes on to quote only two sources, both of whom are E-Voting advocates and both of whom suggest there is nothing to worry about and that these systems "can be trusted."

Not one quote from any of the myriad computer scientists and security experts who have decried the enormous flaws and security vulnerabilities in loads of electronic voting machines describing them as shocking, alarming, critical, etc. etc. etc.

Beginning to see any patterns here?

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Complaint Seeks to Stop Use of Electronic Voting Systems Made by Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S and Hart InterCivic
Broadest State Filing Against Voting Machines Yet Filed, Follows Similar Suits in California, Arizona, New Mexico
By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2006 11:37am PT  

In a complaint said to be the broadest yet filed to halt the rise of the electronic voting machines, a non-partisan group of voters have announced they are filing suit today in Colorado to stop the purchase and use of Direct Recording Electronic ("DRE" or touch-screen) voting machines in the state, The BRAD BLOG can now reveal.

The suit, being filed today in Denver District Court and modeled after similar actions filed previously in California, Arizona and New Mexico, calls for an immediate halt to the use of touch-screen machines made by all four of the major electronic voting machine vendors currentlly doing business in Colorado.

The group, advised and organized by VoterAction.org contends that voting machines made by Diebold, Sequoia Voting Systems, Election Systems and Software Inc. (ES&S) and Hart InterCivic "have a well-documented history of problems with security, reliability, verifiability, and disability access."

According to a press release issued this morning (posted in full below) by the Denver law firm of Wheeler Trigg Kennedy LLP the machines "are easily hacked and compromised, and have a history of operational problems which have disrupted elections across the country."

Defendants named in the suit include Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis and the Boards of county commissioners in 9 different CO counties.

"The Secretary of State's Office has failed to issue rules setting minimum standards for security of these systems. The election rules permit the DRE manufacturers to simply tell the State that their machines are secure," said Wheller Trigg Kennedy attorney Paul Hultin in the release. "Worse, the Secretary is not following the law. No certification reports required by law have been prepared even though these systems have been certified for months and counties are preparing to use these dubious systems in the upcoming election," he says.

"Some of the security risks with these machines are so high that it is unconscionable that their manufacturers, who have known of the problems for years, have not taken the necessary steps to correct them," says Univesity of Iowa computer science Professor Dr. Doug Jones, who is one of several experts who will be offering testimony in the case.

"The Help America Vote Act is being turned on its head, weakening the integrity of our elections in the rush to purchase untrustworthy DRE computerized voting systems," said Lowell Finley, Co-counsel for the Colorado voter plaintiffs, election law expert, and Co-director of Voter Action, according to the release. "The sanctity of our elections is too important to turn over to private corporations which operate without accountability. There are better and more secure options available, such as optical scan-paper balloting."

The complete filing is now online here [PDF]...

We're busy covering the Robert Kennedy article on Election 2004 in Rolling Stone today (we'll have extended excerpts on BRAD BLOG shortly), so we'll leave you with the complete press release below for more details on this developing case...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Speaking to Culver City Dems on Election Integrity...
By Brad Friedman on 5/28/2006 2:47pm PT  

The fine new video blogger calling himself "Hot Potato Mash" has posted a few video excerpts from a talk I recently gave at the Culver City Democratic Club about two weeks ago. He's posted about about 8 minutes from the 30 or so I yammered on about in re: Election Integrity back on May 10th in an evening that also included the lovely Arlene Pinzler from Sen. Debra Bowen's office (have I mentioned lately that Bowen is running for Sec. of State of California in a really important election for all of America and could use your support before next week's primary?)

Please check out the video linked above and let us know what ya think. (NOTE TO CULVER CITY REPUBLICANS --- OR ANY OTHERS: I'll be happy to come and speak to you too! Just let me know when you'd like me to be there!)

While you're at The Mash, you may also want to check out this short video clip in which we learn about what's really important to American voters. Or atleast, what's important to them when the media bothers to cover it several hours a week during prime time.

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By Brad Friedman on 5/27/2006 4:54pm PT  

(Hat tip John Gideon!)

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Everything's Alright, Nothing to See Here People, Keep Moving...
By Brad Friedman on 5/25/2006 2:59pm PT  

After an otherwise encouraging headline on MSNBC's just posted "Optimism about voting reform wanes: New machines and procedures have been introduced, but problems persist" the article, by NBC News' Huma Zaidi goes curiously downhill thereafter.

Zaidi cursorily mentions early "a group of experts and election officials" who met in DC last month to discuss election reform and "the picture most of them painted wasn't very optimistic". As well, he reports that "Almost a dozen states that have already held primaries this year have experienced problems."

But enough with the facts of the matter. From there, it's time for the Pro E-Voting spin to commence...

Zaidi goes on to quote three different Electronic Voting supporters and not one of those previously mentioned un-optimistic "experts and election officials."

As well, while the article discusses the problems of "a handful of companies who produce voting machines" and who have had trouble fulfilling their contractual obligations to multiple states and counties in primary elections so far this year --- along with a nod to a one or two of the "wrinkles" and "glitches" caused by the machines so far this year --- not a single voting machine company is mentioned by name (not Diebold who has failed enormously, nor ES&S who has failed enormously, nor Sequoia Voting Systems who has failed enormously, nor Hart InterCivic who has failed enormously!)

On the other hand, the pro-electronic voting folks are named, and even have their websites plugged. Go figure.

We guess if you downplay problems by private companies who have access to millions of dollars and teams of attorneys ready to go, and don't bother to mention them or their failings by name, you're far less likely to be sued. Why else would NBC cover the issues this way after all?

As ever, we're glad to see attention finally being given to the most important matter of the legitimacy of our votes in our electoral democracy --- particularly by an outlet as large as MSNBC and NBC News --- but these articles that end up doing little more than saying "there's some problems, but everything will be just fine, nothing to worry about here" are getting absurd.

See NPR's report (text transcript now included) from over the weekend for a far more responsible --- and yes, "fair and balanced" --- report on this issue.

For more thoughts on all of this, see mass media maven Danny Schecter's "Why is the Media Downplaying Our Voting Scandal?" editorial as posted on Monday!

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Diebold Disasters Leading to Self-Destruction As ES&S Continues to Meltdown and Miss One Contractual Obligation After Another?
By John Gideon on 5/15/2006 6:53am PT  

By John Gideon, www.VotersUnite.Org and www.VoteTrustUSA.Org May 15, 2006

Yes, the wheels are wobbling on the locomotives. The vendors --- ES&S, Diebold, and the rest --- attempt to keep a stiff upper lip as they both fail to perform, yet continue collecting tax-payer dollars from the county election coffers. Meanwhile some elections officials have just turned a blind-eye to what is happening while they continue to make excuses for their vendors: The private corporate American Electronic Voting Machine behemoths that are being paid to take over America's Public Electoral system.

And the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) which was put in place by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), theoretically, to keep all of this from occurring? Well, all they do is raise their hands and shrug and tell anyone who asks, that they don't do voting systems certification so they just don't know anything. The Sergeant Schultz Defense, perhaps?

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2006 5:41pm PT  

(In which we subtly bite the very Huff Po hand that feeds us...)

"On Electronic Voting: We Were Always Right, They Were Always Wrong..."

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By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2006 4:33pm PT  

And we entrust these guys to correctly count our votes?! Are we out of our minds? Can these guys do anything right? (These questions have long ago been answered on these very pages, of course.)

From AP today...

Five Florida counties get uncertified voting machines

ORLANDO, Fla. - Five counties received new touch-screen voting machines that weren't certified for use in Florida because they were upgraded without approval from state officials, officials said.

The Diebold Election Systems machines were delivered in Volusia, Polk, Leon, Putnam and Glades counties with memory, processor, display and other improvements.

And from the Daytona Beach News-Journal...

Touch-screen voting devices not certified

DELAND --- A funny thing happened when Volusia County elections officials fired up their new touch-screen voting machines --- they discovered the equipment wasn't certified by the state.

Diebold Election System shipped upgraded models --- 210 of them --- not yet verified by the Florida Division of Elections.

How much higher can the mountain of evidence get to make the case that these guys should be put out of the election business and our democracy's misery immediately and entirely?

Who the hell is running the federal Elections Assistance Commission (EAC)? OJ's jury?!

...CONTACT...
United States Election Assistance Commission
1225 New York Avenue N.W., Suite - 1100
Washington, DC 20005

Telephone: (202) 566-3100
Toll Free: (866) 747-1471
Fax: (202) 566-3127
E-mail Address: HAVAinfo@eac.gov

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Sec. of State, Formerly an ES&S Supporter, 'More than Upset About Broken Promises' by Country's Largest E-Voting Company
By John Gideon on 5/10/2006 7:38pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Just hours ago Betty Ireland, the Secretary of State of West Virginia filed a formal complaint against ES&S with the federal Elections Assistance Commission. A story in the State Journal quotes Secretary Ireland:

"I am more than upset that or county clerks and their staffs and county commissions had to withstand stress and anxiety over the broken promises and delays ES&S put them through".

"And, Ireland says, now that the election is over, strategy talks about the problems with Election Systems and Software will begin...but, "We will not and cannot discuss publicly our legal strategy. As before, we continue to work with the Attorney General's Office to address our options"."

"The state's selection committee chose ES&S because of it's past service in the state and it's knowledge of West Virginia election deadlines and procedures. Ireland says, "Unfortunately, we now feel ES&S let West Virginia down"."

There have been failures all over the state. A small sampling of problems gives us:

  • Taylor County's votes could not be counted last night because the main computer would not read tabulators from individual voting machines.
  • Upshur County's counter was in such bad shape that as of midnight the county was trying to get a similar machine from a neighboring county
  • Mineral County's optical scan ballot counter was producing skewed results
  • Ohio County could not count about 800 absentee votes because it was not given the equipment to do so
  • - and ?

  • Clay, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Putnam, McDowell and Webster that all violated provisions of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 when they were not able provide any voting machines for their voters with disabilities.
  • The national media? Mums the word for them, it seems.

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    Motion Demands Preliminary Injunction, Alleges E-Machines Are Not Secure, Not Fully Accessible to Disabled Voters
    Suit is Latest in Growing Line of Similar Actions Being Taken Around the Country, SoS Brewer Continues to Duck Public Discussion of Issue or Support the Troops
    By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2006 3:26pm PT  

    John Gideon contributed to this report.

    A group of Arizona voters have filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction against Sec. of State Jan Brewer to halt the purchase of electronic touch-screen voting systems in the state made by both Diebold, Inc. and Sequoia Voting Systems.

    The voters announced today that the motion was being filed in time to stop the use of the Diebold TSx and Sequoia Edge II systems in the state's upcoming 2006 elections, due to security, verifiability, and disability access problems with these systems.

    In addition to the litany of security issues concerning Diebold's TSx, details from the most severe one to date were just revealed publicly last Friday with more chilling details filed in the Oakland Tribune by Ian Hoffman today, the suit also contends the machines, being purchased and implemented in many Arizona counties for the first time this year, are accessible only for a small number of voters with disabilities.

    Indeed, on Monday, Diebold issued a press release about new disabled-accessible features that the company is now making available for their line of touch-screen voting machines. The press release can be seen as a tacit agreement, of sorts, that those systems had not been previously accessible to all disabled voters as required by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA)?

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