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Voters Seek Order Barring Touchscreen Purchase

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Voter Action info@voteraction.org
December 21st, 2005

Voters Seek Order Barring Purchase of More Touchscreen Voting Machines

Albuquerque - December 20th 2005 - Eight New Mexico voters asked District Judge Eugenio Mathis for an emergency order blocking the Secretary of State from spending millions of dollars on Sequoia AVC Edge touchscreen voting machines for use in Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Santa Fe and 11 other counties. The plaintiffs allege that the machines are not accessible by disabled voters and violate a state law requirement for voter verifiable paper trail printers, necessary for meaningful audits and recounts. Plaintiffs also submitted substantial evidence that the Sequoia touchscreen voting systems are inaccurate and unreliable, having lost thousands of votes and switched countless others in recent elections.

The motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction was filed in the case of Patricia Rosas Lopategui, et al. v. Rebecca Vigil-Giron, et al. The case was filed in January of 2005, and seeks a permanent injunction against use in future New Mexico elections of the Sequoia AVC Edge touchscreen and other “direct recording electronic” (DRE) voting machines sold by Election Systems & Software and by Danaher Controls.

A better solution is readily available. The Secretary of State has certified a superior voting system, the Automark, which was selected over the Sequoia Edge by county clerks in 19 New Mexico counties. The Automark is truly accessible by the disabled, including blind and low vision voters as well as voters with severe dexterity disabilities( The Sequoia does not make accommodations for voters with dexterity disabilities like Cerebral Palsy) The Automark also produces paper ballots which are counted by an optical scanner, like the ballots of all non-disabled voters. Following elections, these paper ballots are available for audits that are vital to ensuring the integrity of elections.

The 19 New Mexico county clerks who chose the Automark join a growing national trend away from DRE touchscreen voting machines and toward optical scan paper ballots, with the Automark for disability access. Numerous counties across the country have gone so far as to abandon recently purchased, problem-plagued touchscreen systems in order to switch to the Automark with optical scan ballots.

Plaintiffs submitted the affidavit of Noel Runyan, an expert on the design of disabled access devices. Mr. Runyan, who is blind, gave this harsh assessment:

In my opinion, the Sequoia AVC Edge DRE does not satisfy the disability access requirements of HAVA, as incorporated into New Mexico law. This opinion is based on (1) the Edge’s complete lack of any accommodation for persons with severe physical dexterity impairments who are unable to use touchscreens or keypads; (2) the gross inadequacy of the Edge’s audio assist feature for persons who are blind or low vision; and (3) the Edge’s failure to accommodate elderly voters who have developed severe visual impairments with age but are unfamiliar with and unable to cope with audio-only access technology because they have had normal vision most of their lives. In short, it is my opinion that a large portion of disabled citizens who attempt to cast their votes on Sequoia AVC Edge voting machines will be unable to do so.

Holly Jacobson 206 769 7185

ENDS


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