A cross-partisan group of registered Maryland voters filed a lawsuit today against the Maryland State Board of Elections and its Administrator, charging that new Diebold AccuVote-TS electronic voting machines recently purchased by Maryland fail to comply with both state and federal law. The lawsuit, filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court in Annapolis, would force state election officials to decertify the electronic machines until the manufacturer, Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, remedies well-publicized security vulnerabilities in the new machines and institutes a voter-verified paper audit trail.
Maryland is at the epicenter of a nationwide controversy regarding the use of electronic voting systems. "States throughout the country are demanding increased security measures and a paper audit trail after having reviewed reports that were commissioned by Maryland to evaluate these machines," said plaintiff Linda Schade, co-founder of the Campaign for Verifiable Voting in Maryland. "The Maryland State Board's refusal to implement the recommendations of its own reports is irresponsible and contrary to federal and state law."
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include concerned Maryland voters, city council candidates, sitting city councilmen, a founder of a statewide citizens network, and the Minority Whip of the Maryland State Senate.
Maryland's election law provides that the State Board cannot certify a voting system unless it determines that the system is secure, reliable, and "capable of providing an audit trail of all ballots cast so that, in a recount, the election can be reconstructed, starting with the individual votes of all eligible voters." Maryland law also requires the State Board to decertify a system if the system "no longer protects the security of the voting process."
"The security concerns with the Diebold machines are well-known and very real," said Paul Suh, a computer security specialist for the Campaign for Verifiable Voting in Maryland. "If we don't implement a voter-verified paper audit trail before the November 2004 general election, Maryland citizens will be voting on flawed systems with known, serious security vulnerabilities and no capability for auditing or a true recount. Maryland could become the Florida of the 2004 election."
Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from the Washington, D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and the Baltimore, MD office of Tydings and Rosenberg LLP.