Alternatives to Forced E-Voting Proposed in US Justice v. NY State HAVA Suit


Amicus Filed in Federal - NY State Lawsuit Over Voting Machines

Two Dozen Election Integrity Groups Back Brief to Bar E-voting

[ALBANY, NY, Dec. 15] Seeking to avert a federal Justice Department takeover of New York's 2008 federal election, and a possible court-ordered purchase of computerized voting machines, attorneys Andrea Novick and Jonathan Simon of Election Defense Alliance (EDA) on Friday filed an amicus brief in United States v New York State Board of Elections (Case # 1:06-cv-263). The case is scheduled for argument in United States Federal Court in Albany on December 20.

The Voting Rights division of the Justice Department is suing the state board of elections for its alleged failure to comply with Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requirements for voting systems that assist voters overcoming physical or linguistic barriers to voting. The Justice Department is seeking to compel New York to deploy computerized voting systems to address HAVA requirements.

The amicus brief, filed on behalf of 32 election integrity groups and individuals, argues that hand-counting the two federal races in New York in 2008, combined with the addition of accessible ballot marking devices at every polling site, is consistent with the essential requirements for democratic elections and will bring the state fully into compliance with HAVA, as sought by the Department of Justice.

Novick, who practices in New York state, recognized that the federal-state legal standoff over HAVA presented what co-counsel Simon called "an opportunity to offer an alternative solution that moves away from other states' disastrous experience using secret, computerized vote-counting equipment."

"Hand-counted paper ballots satisfy the requirements of HAVA, and fulfill the democratic requirement for transparent verification that computerized systems cannot," Novick said.

As remedy, the brief recommends that the federal court order hand-counting of ballots for the two federal races (president and congress) on New York's ballot next November. The federal HAVA requirements at issue apply only to federal elections.

The brief cites multiple New York state legal precedents defining the right to vote as not merely casting a ballot, but including rights to observe and confirm that ballots are received and accurately counted as cast.

The brief also argues that New York's currently-used mechanical lever voting machines are legal under the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), if supplemented by an accessible ballot marking device at every polling site to accommodate voters with special needs.

More than 200 pages of supporting documentation were filed with the brief--including overwhelming evidence that electronic voting systems are not only error and manipulation-prone, but also unconstitutional in their secrecy of operation and lack of transparent means to verify the vote count.

The documentation also includes detailed procedural guides and cost and time estimates for hand counting ballots, prepared and submitted by election integrity groups and individuals who signed on to the brief.

Novick saluted the "cooperation and enthusiasm displayed by our colleagues across the election integrity spectrum" in preparing these critically important documents for the court.

For further information and updates on scheduling please contact Sally Castleman at SallyC[at]ElectionDefenseAlliance[dot]org (781-454-8700) or Jonathan Simon at VerifiedVote2004[at]aol[dot]com (617-538-6012).

For further case details, news, and links to court documents, see