Eight Maryland voters have asked an appeals court to force the State Board of Elections (SBE) to address alleged security risks in an electronic voting machine system and provide a voter-verified paper trail during elections.
The voters, some representing advocacy group TrueVoteMD.org, filed motions Monday asking the Court of Appeals of Maryland to force the SBE to fix alleged problems with an e-voting system sold to the state by Diebold Inc. The plaintiffs also asked the Court of Appeals to tell a circuit court judge to move faster on their request for a preliminary injunction against the SBE.
The plaintiffs accuse the SBE of ignoring scientific and government studies that question the security of the Diebold e-voting machines and of ignoring a Maryland legislative requirement to include a voter-verified paper trail with an e-voting system. Such a paper trail would allow voters to check their electronic votes against paper print-outs, which then can be used to audit the election results, said Linda Schade, director and cofounder of TrueVoteMD.org.
“What we’re saying is if these machines are used without a paper trail, it would be an illegal election,” said Schade, a plaintiff in the case.
Representatives of the SBE and Diebold didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comments on the new motions. Both the SBE’s administrator, Linda Lamone, and Diebold have defended the e-voting systems in the past, saying that the electronic systems are more accurate and just as secure as paper balloting.
TrueVoteMD.org has protested the e-voting systems in Maryland since late 2003. In November 2003, the group, also called the Campaign for Verifiable Voting in Maryland, filed a complaint with the SBE over the use of the Diebold machines, and in April, the group and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit and a request for a preliminary injunction against the use of the e-voting machines in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.
But the judge in the case didn’t schedule a hearing on the injunction until August 25, leaving the plaintiffs little time before the November general election to make their case in court, Schade said. “We are saying that by the reality of the scheduling, the injunction had already been ruled upon,” Schade said.
TrueVoteMD.org and other e-voting critics complain of numerous problems that could arise from using e-voting machines without a verified paper trail. The potential problems range from programming mistakes to hackers intentionally changing votes. “It’s time-sensitive and of significant concern to the public,” Schade said. “There are random computer glitches. We’ve all had our computers crash.”
Schade and other plaintiffs point to the state of California, which banned similar e-voting machines earlier this year because of concerns about security.
On Tuesday, in a court-ordered mediation session, the two sides didn’t make progress, Schade said. “I was disappointed because the voters of Maryland were not served,” she said.