Watchdogs File Election Lawsuit
Plaintiffs ask party chair to replace secretary of state candidate for her disdain for verifiable electronic voting methods
By Garland Favorito
ATLANTA, Georgia—Plaintiffs who recently filed a revolutionary lawsuit in Georgia to restore voting that can be verified, audited and recounted issued a public call on Oct. 16 for a candidate to withdraw from the secretary of state race in Georgia because of her opposition to all four state-wide vote auditing measures during the 2006 legislative session.
The new lawsuit reflects a growing grassroots movement spreading across the country to throw out unverifiable computer voting and replace it with a tamper-proof, verifiable system.
In Georgia, the detailed voting record of candidate Rep. Gail Buckner was the subject of a persuasive scorecard issued for the secretary of state race by the election watchdog group, Count Paper Ballots. Specifically the scorecard cited that Rep. Buckner:
• Voted against an amendment that restored a requirement to implement statewide audit trails after a pilot project was complete;
• Voted against a committee substitute bill that provided for election night precinct audits to ensure the machines recorded votes correctly;
• Opposed in committee a bipartisan state House bill (H.B. 790) that required statewide audit trails, election night audit procedures and recounts for candidates when machine counting discrepancies are found in multiple precincts;
• Ridiculed a bipartisan Senate bill (S.B. 591) as costing “billions” because it allowed citizens to count the votes in the precinct on election night.
Rep. Buckner did not sponsor any alternative statewide vote auditing legislation. However, she supported and amended an audit trail pilot bill that would install secure printers on machines in only three of 3,083 precincts. That pilot bill does not require audit trails to be permanently implemented in any precinct.
Two of the seven counts in the plaintiffs’ lawsuit were filed against the pilot bill because the new Diebold voting machines that are being employed roll election results into a sealed canister in the exact order that the ballots are cast. According to the suit, that technology jeopardizes the secrecy of the ballot and prevents results from being easily verified for accuracy on election night.
A total of nine individuals, more than half of whom are Democratic Party loyalists, delivered a letter to Georgia Democratic Party chairman Bobby Kahn seeking a replacement candidate. Their letter stated: “Georgia cannot afford another secretary of state who so adamantly opposes verifiable, auditable voting.”
The plaintiffs decided to take action when the state officials suggested that they would consider political remedy in lieu of legal remedy. The group’s letter to Kahn specifically declared that: “Rep Buckner is the only legislator in the General Assembly who is on record as opposing all four statewide vote audit measures in the last session. No other legislator is on record as opposing more than one of these measures.”
The landmark Georgia lawsuit has national implications for three reasons. It is the first lawsuit to challenge the legality and constitutionality of electronic voting machines and procedures according to state law. Secondly, it seeks to benefit all nine million current and future voters in the state.
Third, Georgia is ranked last nationally in voting systems implementation by the Free Congress Foundation. The lawsuit that aims to take Georgia from worst to first can be viewed on the VoterGa web site at www.voterga.org.
(Issue #44, October 30, 2006)