Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
e-voting, ed felten, inspections, new jersey


New Jersey Court Says Independent Investigators Can Review E-Voting Machines

from the protect-the-vote dept

Last month, e-voting firm Sequoia threatened both independent researchers and New Jersey election officials if those independent researcher were allowed to inspect Sequoia's e-voting machines. This seemed like a very odd threat for a variety of reasons. Why wouldn't Sequoia want its machines inspected? The very fact that it was threatening legal action seemed like grounds to simply never use Sequoia e-voting machines. Sequoia claimed that existing inspections were enough, despite a history of problems in those inspections. Furthermore, Sequoia's own explanations for the problems with its machines in the primary elections this year were wrong. Ed Felten found that Sequoia's explanations didn't actually explain many of the problems. Unfortunately, though, with the threat of legal action, New Jersey agreed not to have Felten test the machines.

However, a New Jersey state judge has now ruled that it's perfectly reasonable for independent inspectors to review the machines. Unfortunately, she pushed back the date for such inspections until September, meaning that it won't affect this year's presidential election -- which will still use machines that may have problems. So while Sequoia didn't succeed in stopping independent examination of its machines, it did stall the process long enough so that the existing machines will stay in use for this year's elections -- despite the long list of problems that have been discovered with them. Apparently, we're still in beta when it comes to democracy.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2008 @ 5:53am

    With Tin Foil Hat firmly on and Crystal Ball locked in place a clear version of the future is forming in which New Jersey and other states have election that make hanging chad episode in Florida look like child’s play.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ScaredOfTheMan, 28 Apr 2008 @ 6:05am

    Open Source Election Machine... Why Not?

    It seems there are plenty of people and initiatives out there for free open source e-voting software. So what's the hold up with the adoption?

    Even in our "free market economy" one place where profit should not be a motivating factor is the act of counting votes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Andrew, 28 Apr 2008 @ 7:04am

      Re: Open Source Election Machine... Why Not?

      I'd assume the holdup is the hardware end. Getting a proper touch-scree-based voting machine with an internal printer seems as if it would be a moderately challenging product.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), 28 Apr 2008 @ 6:06am

    Test date doesn't really matter

    Appeals will drag this ruling out another two years or so. So it wouldn't make a lick of difference in this election what date was chosen. Plus, they already leaked the outcome.
    Election Results

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alaric, 28 Apr 2008 @ 6:09am

    Go back to the old system already

    Those electronic machines are too susceptible to malfunction and hacking.

    Its contrary to the intent of democracy. Get rid of them Go back to the old lever things, whatever, they're called.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Foot, 28 Apr 2008 @ 7:25am

    Anyone actually believe in veracity of voting process?

    - Electronic voting machines result in big money contracts for the companies producing them - and be guaranteed that the company is politically connected.
    - The state government and independent researchers were threatened and backed off - there is a message here. Once again, the private politically-inspired backroom deal trumps the interest of the voters.
    - Why didn't the judge force the issue to be resolved sooner? Paper ballots are still used and have replaced use of voting machines in some states (e.g. FL) - go to paper now instead of allowing a tainted election to occur.
    Ah, this is all nuts!!! Time to clean House, Senate, Congress & start over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    oregonnerd, 29 Apr 2008 @ 9:52am


    So people here think the president is elected by popular vote??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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