Voters, civil rights groups and a statewide candidate filed a petition Wednesday
to prevent the State of Texas from using unreliable electronic voting machines
in the November elections.
Travis County voter Sonia Santana, the NAACP of Austin, its president, Nelson
Linder, also a Travis County voter, and David Van Os, a candidate for attorney
general, filed a petition asking the court to enjoin the county from using
voting machines that do not produce a paper ballot. The Texas Civil Rights
Project represents the plaintiffs.
"Voters deserve the assurance their voices will be heard," said Jim Harrington,
director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. "By using machines that provide no
permanent record, the state is failing in its constitutional duty to provide the
people with an election in which they can trust the results."
More than half the states now require their electronic voting machines to print
a paper ballot when the voter casts his or her vote. The voter reads his or her
ballot to make sure it recorded the vote he or she intended and then casts both
the electronic and paper ballots.
The paper ballot can be counted in the all-too-common case when electronic
ballots vanish into thin air or when there is a discrepancy between the number
of people who voted and the number of votes recorded. Having a paper trail also
makes fraud less likely.
Hart InterCivic eSlates, used in Travis County and a number of counties around
Texas, have no such feature. Once the voter casts the ballot, he or she has no
idea what the machine actually recorded and there is no record available in the
likely case of a dispute.
The petition charges that the use of these machines is a violation of three of
the plaintiffs' rights guaranteed under the Texas Constitution and the Texas
The right to a secure election, since the machines are all-too-often open to
failure, mistake, tampering and fraud.
The right to a recount, since there is no way for voters to verify whether the
votes were properly recorded, stored, tabulated or printed..
The right to equal protection under the law, since Travis County voters are
forced to use a voting system that is less reliable than systems available to
other Texas voters.
"The state has chosen to protect one of our most fundamental rights, the right
to participate in our government, with a system rife with failure and vulnerable
to fraud," Harrington said.
For further information, please contact Jim Harrington at 512-474-5073