Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Judge sides with county in dispute over electronic voting records

By Rachel Konrad, The Associated Press, September 27, 2004


In a defeat for activists urging for more transparency into voting technology, a judge ruled that a candidate who questioned the accuracy of paperless voting terminals is not entitled to view electronic election data.

California Superior Court Judge James S. Hawkins ruled that Riverside County voting officials do not have to provide computer disks, memory cartridges and other data to Linda Soubirous, who lost a chance to stage a runoff election for the county's board of supervisors by fewer than 50 votes. Soubirous sued the registrar's office in March, after it refused to provide audit logs and other data.

Officials in the sprawling county east of Los Angeles, which has more touch-screen voting terminals than almost any other county nationwide, have said for years that electronic data could be used in case of a recount or audit.

But Hawkins' Sept. 22 ruling stated that county officials may use discretion to determine which, if any, data candidates may view. They "did not abuse discretion" in denying Soubirous access to that data, stated the ruling, which parties received in the mail Monday.

Soubirous' attorney, Gregory Luke, said he planned to appeal on Tuesday.

"California law guarantees the right to a meaningful recount and guarantees candidates the right to review relevant materials," Luke said. "We asked for the only relevant materials that exist and were denied that, and I believe an appeal court would be troubled by that."

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