Plaintiff Rep Says Machines to be Allowed in November, With New Security Measures, But Must Be Recertified From Scratch Thereafter
[UPDATED Now to include CNN's Initial Coverage, Official VoterAction.org Statement, Trial Testimony and Depositions from the case.]
By Brad Friedman on 9/22/2006, 4:54pm PT  

I just received a phone call from Holly Jacobson of VoterAction.org, the group that has supported voter lawsuits attempting to decertify e-voting machines in Colorado, California, Arizona, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

She called us from Colorado just after leaving the courtroom, where the case in that state against the use and purchase of e-voting systems made by Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Hart InterCivic was being heard yesterday. She called and said: "We won!"

That call came moments after I'd received a report that CNN's Lou Dobbs had reported an hour or so ago that they had lost the case...

I didn't see Dobbs yet tonight, and the transcript isn't available yet, so we'll have to check exactly what it was that they said. But Jacobson explained that, though the judge allowed the state of Colorado to use the machines for this November, they would have to do so with new strict security guidelines to be written by the VoterAction folks.

She explained that they had expected something like that since the case was being heard just weeks from the November elections, without enough time for a complete overhaul to be made to the system now in place in Colorado.

Nonetheless, they are all "popping champagne and celebrating," according to Jacobson because the biggest victory, apparently, comes in that the Judge has found that Colorado must completely start over in their certification process for these systems immediately after the upcoming election. Apparently, she says, he found that the state's process for certifying the systems was enormously flawed. (See our previous report about the "expert" in charge of certifying voting systems for the state, who was revealed during his deposition to have had no formal computer science education, and to have not even bothered to have performed any actual tests of the systems before certifying them!)

Jacobson also reports that Lowell Finley, the group's lead attorney, has characterized the Judge's mandate for new certification procedures to be so strict the state simply "won't be able to certify any DRE [touch-screen] voting systems" under the new procedures.

Sounds good to us.

The VoterAction suit in Colorado was filed in June.

UPDATE 6:36pm PT: Jacobson has sent us VoterAction's official media release on this. It's posted in full below...

UPDATE 6:49pm PT: As requested in comments, here are some of the materials I've been sent from the case:

-- Digested Deposition of John Gardner (The not-expert "Expert" who certified systems for Colorado) [PDF]
-- Excerpts of trial testimony, Mike Williams questions Noel Runyan (9/21/06) [WORD]
-- Trasncript of Judge's Complete Ruling: PDF Version..., WORD Version...

UPDATE 7:12pm PT: We reported previously that someone had mentioned CNN's Lou Dobbs might have misreported the verdict. In fact, it looks as if they got it just about right as this segment from the transcript of tonight's show reveals:

PILGRIM: Now, we have word just now that the judge in Colorado has ruled that the electronic voting machines can be used in November. But he also said state officials will have to make sure that they can't be tampered with, and he also ruled that the secretary of state's office violated state law and did an abysmal job in testing those machines --- Lou.

DOBBS: Yet ruled that they can still proceed.

PILGRIM: Yes, but tighten up every rule and have them tested.

DOBBS: Amazing judgment ...

PILGRIM: Amazing.

DOBBS: ...or lack of it on the part of the judge.

We'll have the full transcript posted shortly as a separate item. Here now, the VoterAction statement...


Court Upholds Colorado Voters Challenge to Electronic Voting System Certification - New Standards, Testing for Security to be Required Post-November

Judge orders Secretary of State to produce and implement voting security plan for all counties

For Immediate Release: Denver, CO, September 22, 2006 - In a legal victory this afternoon in the Colorado voters' lawsuit challenging Secretary of State's Gigi Dennis' cursory certification of electronic voting systems manufactured by Diebold, Sequoia, ES & S, and Hart, the District Court in Denver decided that it will not permit the use of these systems post November 7th until real security standards are adopted and the machines are retested to meet these standards. In his ruling, Judge Lawrence Manzanares said the Secretary of state had failed to create minimum security standards, as required by state law, and did an "abysmal" job of documenting the testing during its certification process. He also ordered the Secretary of State to adopt state-wide security standards before the November 2006 election, and ensure compliance from all Colorado counties using the machines.

"The Colorado voter plaintiffs are extremely pleased with this victory. The Court's decision upholds our challenge to the reliability of the certification process as well as the security of the vote when electronic voting systems are in use," said Paul Hultin, Counsel for the plaintiffs, who led the litigation team at Wheeler Trigg & Kennedy LLP, in Denver, which is providing pro bono legal services in the case.

"The Court's ruling is a victory for the plaintiffs and for all voters in Colorado who are concerned about upholding the integrity of the vote. The Court's decision is tantamount to de-certification of the electronic voting systems of the four major electronic voting machines, which is what the Colorado voter plaintiffs have been fighting for.The stakes are too high, and elections too critical to turn them over to private vendors with troubled histories and no accountability," said Lowell Finley, co-director of Voter Action and co-counsel in the Colorado case and in similar voters lawsuits in California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico.

"Electronic voting machine breakdowns have wreaked havoc in recent state primaries, disenfranchising thousands of voters and calling into question election results, " said Holly Jacobson co-director of Voter Action. "While we are pleased with today's verdict, the serious security flaws inherent in electronic voting technology - confirmed in a new study by Princeton University experts last week, underscore the need for more secure and verifiable voting systems. Paper ballots do not fail to boot up and can be reliably counted, audited and recounted. This is why half the counties in the country are using them. Maryland's Governor Ehrlich announced his support for returning his state to paper ballots earlier this week".

The lawsuit was filed on June 1st by a diverse group of Colorado voters, among them Democrat, Republican, Independent, and Green Party members, as well disabled voters. The plaintiffs are represented pro bono by the law firm of Wheeler Trigg Kennedy, LLP, and was supported by Voter Action, www.voteraction.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring election integrity in the US.

Voter Action is a project of the International Humanities Center, a 501(c) (3) organization.

###