FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES - The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed an amended complaint today in its defense of "vote-swapping" website creators and participants who were threatened with criminal prosecution for their activities.
The ACLU is now asking the federal court to enter a permanent injunction against California Secretary of State Bill Jones and award damages to Webmaster Alan Porter and other plaintiffs, alleging that their Constitutional rights were violated and will likely be violated again in future elections if Jones's threats are allowed to stand.
"The concept of matching like-minded voters in cyberspace for the purpose of creating a common voting strategy is completely in line with the freedoms set forth in our Constitution," said Peter Eliasberg, staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California.
The ACLU initially sought a temporary restraining order against Jones for threatening criminal prosecution against a web-site similar to Porter's "votexchange2000.com," site which helped like-minded voters connect on-line and discuss voting strategies. The court denied the request for a temporary restraining order, and Porter did not re-open his web-site.
"Even the world's totalitarian governments are recognizing that they cannot control speech and association on the Internet," said Eliasberg, "but California, cradle of the web, apparently still needs to learn the lesson."
The ACLU argues that the razor's-edge margins in this election make clear that every vote counts and that voter-matching sites give individuals the tools to help ensure that their voices are truly heard and their interests are fully represented.
Mr. Porter has already registered the domain name 'votexchange2004.com for the next presidential election.
The ACLU of San Diego, the National Voting Rights Institute and attorneys Jamin Raskin and Alan Dershowitz are co-counsel in the case.
A news release about the initial lawsuit is online at archive.aclu.org/news/2000/n110200.html.