July 28, 2008 - Lawsuit over e-vote machines dismissed
Paper: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Title: Lawsuit over e-vote machines dismissed
Date: July 28, 2008
Author: MARTIN GRIFFITH, Associated Press
A judge has dismissed a citizen activist's lawsuit against a leading provider of electronic voting machines, saying no proof was offered that they malfunctioned.
In her complaint, filed in 2006, Patricia Axelrod of Reno claimed her vote in the 2004 general election was not counted because of a defective machine made by Oakland-based Sequoia Voting Systems. The same machines have come under fire in California.
But in a ruling issued earlier this month, Washoe County District Judge Jerome Polaha said state statutes cited by Axelrod gave her no standing to sue the company over an alleged lost vote.
The judge further said the alleged lost vote fails to constitute a ''property interest,'' as Axelrod claimed, and that Sequoia's machines have not been shown to have malfunctioned.
Sequoia vice president Michelle M. Shafer hailed the ruling.
''Since the inception of this matter, it has been Sequoia's belief that the claims asserted had no basis in either fact or law,'' she said Sunday. ''The court's dismissal of the lawsuit confirms this belief.''
Axelrod, who acted as her own counsel, said she was undecided whether to appeal the ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court.
'Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, you're going to have reason to doubt the outcome of this year's election ,'' she said Sunday. ''The very same machines used in Nevada have been decertified for use by the state of California.''
Last August, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified voting machines made by Sequoia and another company but said they could regain certification if they meet several new conditions.
Bowen's action came after University of California computer experts found voting machines sold by Sequoia and two other companies were vulnerable to hackers and that voting results could be altered.
Sequoia criticized the study, calling it ''an unrealistic, worst-case-scenario evaluation.''
The state of Nevada was the first in the nation to use electronic voting equipment with a voter-verified paper audit trail, using Sequoia machines.
Nevada election officials have said they're monitoring developments in California and working on election security and other issues.
Axelrod said she found her 2004 vote was neither registered nor counted after she accessed her voting record on the county Registrar of Voter's Diebold Election Management System computer.
She said she doesn't trust touch-screen technology and wants a return to paper ballots.
In March, Polaha dismissed Axelrod's claims against other defendants in the lawsuit, including Diebold, the state of Nevada and Washoe County.
Edition: Morning Final
Dateline: RENO, Nev.
Record Number: 0807300040
Copyright (c) 2008 San Jose Mercury News