Texas Supreme Court dismisses voting machine lawsuit

This came out late Friday.

Dealing a blow to critics of electronic voting machines, the Texas Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a case brought by Travis County voters that alleged the machines were not secure or reliable.

The machines “are not perfect. No voting system is,” Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson said in his opinion.

But “we cannot say that (electronic voting machines) impose severe restrictions on voters, particularly in light of the significant benefits such machines offer,” he said.

The lawsuit, filed in 2006 but held up on procedural questions, sought to force Travis County to provide voters with a paper copy of their just-cast ballot to review for accuracy. That ballot would then be submitted to create a record that could be checked in event of a recount or problem with a machine.

The current system, which tabulates all votes cast on a machine but does not provide printed ballots, cannot ensure accuracy or provide a backstop to a voting system that has had problems in the past, the voters said in the suit.

Lawyers for Secretary of State Hope Andrade, the defendant in the case because she had certified the machines, argued the voters cannot show they have been harmed by the voting machines and therefore had no standing to sue.

Although the court held they had standing on some issues, it ultimately found that the machines did not unduly impinge on the right to cast a ballot.

Andrade “made a reasonable, nondiscriminatory choice to certify” the machines, Jefferson wrote.

Friday’s decision reverses opinions by the state District Court in Travis County and the 3rd Court of Appeals , which had ruled that the lawsuit could proceed to trial.

So five years after the lawsuit was filed, the Court has ultimately ruled that the lawsuit cannot be heard. I’m not a voting machine conspiracy theorist, but I would have liked to have seen their evidence presented in a courtroom. Guess that’s not going to happen.

Questions and concerns about electronic voting machines have been around as long as the machines themselves. There have been numerous instances of weird happenings, but so far nothing catastrophic. At least, nothing that we know of. I believe electronic voting machines are an improvement over what we used to have, and I don’t think paper ballots are a panacea, but the system could definitely do with some redundancy. As noted later in the story, many counties will be replacing their voting equipment, as the current machines are at the end of their life cycle. Which means that now would be an excellent time to push your county clerk or elections administrator to include requiring a paper component for the new machines. You’re not going to get any relief from the courts, that’s for sure.

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