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Local Elections

Valley resident joins suit against voting machines

Jake Henshaw • Desert Sun Sacramento Bureau • September 26, 2007

A Coachella Valley resident said Tuesday that she has joined a lawsuit aimed at blocking the use of electronic voting machines in 2008 in California and other states.

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The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in New York on Sept. 12 and delivered to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen on Tuesday, said Susan Marie Weber of Palm Desert.

So far, voters in 10 states have signed up as plaintiffs in the case and will represent themselves in court, Weber said.

She added that participants are trying to recruit residents of other states to join their bid for a court to permanently enjoin state election officials next year from conducting any election "unless (it) is open, verifiable, transparent, machine-free and computer-free."

The lawsuit also offers an 11-point voting procedure that calls for paper ballots to held, counted and transported in a way that ensures public accountability at each step.

"We all have an equal opportunity and right to have our voted counted equally," Weber said. "The only way we can do that is to have a judge say this is how you should vote across the country."

Based on tests indicating security problems with some electronic voting machines, Bowen in August acted to limit their use in 2008 elections.

But certain machines, including optical scanners opposed by Weber and her group, may still be used.

"Secretary Bowen has always made it a top priority to ensure that every ballot is counted as it was cast," said Nicole Winger, the secretary of state's spokeswoman.

Verne Lauritzen, chief of staff to Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, said he hasn't seen the lawsuit but stressed that county leaders are frustrated with Bowen's decision that is forcing them to return to paper ballots.

"They have proved to be very successful here, and I think the majority of the county feels very positive about electronic voting machines," Lauritzen said.

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