ACLU Asks Federal Court to Block Use of Unfair Voting Technology

January 28, 2008 12:00 am

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CLEVELAND – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Ohio filed a motion today asking federal Judge Kathleen O’Malley of the Northern District of Ohio to prevent Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections from using balloting technology that does not give notice to voters of problems with their ballot. The motion follows a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on January 17 challenging the constitutionality of this technology.

“Every voter who goes to the polls must have the opportunity to verify his or her ballot is free from errors,” said ACLU Voting Rights Project attorney Meredith Bell-Platts. “The evidence is overwhelming that when voters do not have access to technology that notifies them of ballot errors, many more ballots are left uncounted.”

Recently, Secretary Brunner and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections opted to implement ballots that do not provide notice of problems with votes, despite strenuous objections from the ACLU, statewide county elections officials and other voting rights activists. Brunner’s proposal for Cuyahoga County differs from other counties in Ohio that use paper ballots because other counties have scanners at the polls to alert voters of errors on their ballot before they leave. Electronic machines that were used in Cuyahoga County and 56 other Ohio counties also provide notice to voters of problems with their ballot.

On January 22, the Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO), a non-partisan organization representing Ohio’s elections officials, voted unanimously against the sweeping changes Brunner has proposed, particularly emphasizing that counties should not adopt any voting technology that prevents voters from verifying their ballots are filled out correctly.

“Voting rights experts and Ohio’s own elections officials agree that voters must be alerted to possible problems with their ballot. Hopefully, the Court will prevent Cuyahoga County from implementing this dangerous technology in the March 2008 primary and protect voters from having their ballots left uncounted,” said ACLU of Ohio staff attorney Carrie Davis.

Attorneys on the case are Bell-Platts, Laughlin McDonald and Neil Bradley of the ACLU, Davis of the ACLU of Ohio, and cooperating attorneys Paul Moke and Richard Saphire. The lawsuit was brought against Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners, and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on behalf of the ACLU of Ohio and voters across the county.

Today’s brief is available online here: /issues/VotingRights/ ACLUvBrunnerBriefInSupportOfMotionForPreliminaryInjunction.pdf

Other documents related to the brief can be found online at: pressreleases/2008pr/2008.01.28.asp#PreliminaryInjunction

More information on the ACLU Voting Rights Project is available at:

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