May 03, 2007

Friday Hearing on Electronic Voting Violations in California Election

Alameda County May Face Sanctions for Failure to Preserve E-Voting Data

Oakland, Calif. - On Friday, May 4, at 9 a.m., a California judge will consider potential sanctions against Alameda County for failing to preserve critical voting machine-related data in a lawsuit challenging the county's recount procedures following a close race conducted on Diebold electronic voting machines in the 2004 general election.

Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith ruled last month that county officials violated both the Elections Code and the California Constitution when they refused to make audit logs and other relevant data available for a recount. The county also returned voting machines to Diebold Election Systems without preserving the corresponding data, despite the ongoing the legal battle over the recount for Measure R.

Measure R, a citizens' initiative, would have addressed the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Berkeley. The measure lost by under 200 votes. Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana group, and three Berkeley voters asked to see the copies of the votes stored in the voting units, the audit logs from those machines, the results of Logic & Accuracy system tests, and the chain-of-custody records for system components. Although California Elections Code provides that a voter may examine "all ballots ... and any other relevant material as part of any recount," former Alameda County Registrar Bradley Clark refused to provide any of this "relevant material." Americans for Safe Access and the Berkeley voters filed suit.

"Judge Smith's decision is potent vindication of the people's right to control their elections and a firm rebuke of the culture of secrecy surrounding electronic voting," said Gregory Luke of Strumwasser & Woocher LLP, attorney for Americans for Safe Access and the suit's three other plaintiffs. "Having found that the county violated the voters' right to a recount, the court must now address the shocking fact that the county disposed of the electronic copies of the votes while this lawsuit was still pending."

The voter-plaintiffs have asked the court to order the county to return the $22,000 they were required to pay for the recount and, if the county is unable to locate the electronic copies of the votes, to place Measure R back on the ballot.

"Requirements to preserve the transparency of the electoral process are especially important when electronic voting systems are used," said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "Aside from the widespread problems that have been documented with these types of machines in the past, without the ability to review even the limited evidence that these machines generate, the public would lose further confidence in the process. The court has flatly rejected the shortsighted arguments of the county about its election-related obligations. The county should further be held accountable for any failures to safeguard the digital record of the 2004 election."

What:
Americans for Safe Access v. County of Alameda

When:
9 a.m.
Friday, May 4

Where:
Alameda County Superior Court Department 31
201 13th St.
Oakland, CA

Contacts:

Matt Zimmerman
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

Gregory G. Luke
Attorney
Strumwasser & Woocher LLP
gluke@strumwooch.com

Kris Hermes
Legal Campaign Director
Americans for Safe Access
kris@safeaccessnow.org


Posted at 01:31 PM

Corporate Critic Fights to Keep Internet Anonymity

Chemical Company on Quest to Identify Online Speaker

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) have asked a California appeals court to scrutinize a chemical company's attempt to strip the anonymity from a participant in an online message board.

The participant posted information that H.B. Fuller Co. claims could only have been obtained through a company "town hall meeting," in violation of an employee confidentiality agreement. However, the poster has submitted a declaration to the court swearing that he or she is not an employee and that the information posted on the message board could have been gleaned from any follower of Fuller's business practices.

A lower court ruled the message board poster should be identified to Fuller. In an amicus brief filed Wednesday, however, EFF and CFAC argue that the lower court undervalued the right to anonymity and set a dangerously low threshold for stripping Internet users of its protection.

"Liberal protection for the right to engage in anonymous communication to speak, read, listen, and associate anonymously is fundamental to a free society," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "That is why courts must strike the appropriate balance between the competing interests of subpoenaing parties and the anonymous speakers they seek to unmask, recognizing that once an online user's anonymity and privacy have been eviscerated, they cannot be repaired."

EFF and CFAC urged the appeals court to adopt a test for this case and others that would protect the rights of Internet critics. That test should include notice to the anonymous speaker, an assessment of the merits of the legal claims and other alternatives for finding the source of harm, and careful consideration of the balance of harms.

For the full amicus brief in Fuller v. Doe:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/fuller_v_doe/fuller_v_doe_amicus.pdf

For more on anonymity on the Internet:
http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Anonymity

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Matt Zimmerman
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/

Posted at 12:02 AM