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For Immediate Release, Monday, October 4, 2004
Contact: Saskia Mills or Kim Alexander
(530) 750-7650 or

Voter Group Urges Use of Absentee Ballots in Certain Counties, Warns Against E-Voting Systems

Absentee Ballot Request Deadline is October 26

Davis, CA – The California Voter Foundation (CVF) is urging voters in counties where electronic, touchscreen voting systems are used to instead vote by paper absentee ballot in the November 2 election.

Citing security concerns and an inability to conduct meaningful audits of election results on the paperless systems, CVF president Kim Alexander said voters in 10 California counties that use touchscreen voting systems should immediately request an absentee ballot from their county elections office.

“Our advice,” Alexander said, “is to cast your votes on paper.  Voters who do not want to entrust their ballots to risky, inauditable technology have a choice – they can reject the paperless touchscreen system and instead vote absentee using a paper ballot,” Alexander said.

Absentee ballot applications are included in the sample ballot pamphlets mailed to all voters by county election offices.  Applications for absentee ballots must be received by Tuesday, October 26.

California counties using electronic voting systems on November 2 comprise about 30 percent of the state’s electorate. They include Alameda, Merced, Napa, Orange, Plumas, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, Shasta, and Tehama.

Ballots cast on electronic voting machines do not allow voters to verify how their vote is recorded, as there is no paper record.

In response to growing concerns about electronic voting security, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed legislation, co-authored by Senators Ross Johnson (R-Orange) and Don Perata (D-Alameda), that will require a voter verified paper record to back up every electronic ballot cast in California by the 2006 Primary election.

Two other states – New Hampshire and Oregon – have laws that mandate the use of voting systems that allow for manual recounts. Illinois passed a law that requires a voter verified paper trail for e-voting machines once that state begins purchasing them. Five secretaries of state have elected to implement the voter verified paper trail. The first to do so is Dean Heller of Nevada, who is implementing the paper trail this election season. In addition, the secretaries of state in Washington, Missouri, California, and Ohio will require the paper trail by 2006.

In Florida, a federal appeals court on September 27 revived a lawsuit filed by Florida Rep. Robert Wexler, who is demanding that all touch-screen voting machines in his state produce a paper record of every vote cast. A three-judge panel in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale to reopen the case, which could affect 15 Florida counties whose electronic voting terminals do not issue paper records.

California voters can mail in their absentee ballots prior to the election or return them to their polling place on Election Day. “Absentee voters who return ballots to their polling places can experience the excitement of Election Day, get their 'I voted' sticker and cast their votes with confidence that their ballot is backed up on paper,” Alexander said.

Under the California Secretary of State’s new security orders, voters who reside in e-voting counties also have the right to request and cast a paper ballot at their polling place on Election Day.

CVF is also encouraging voters to participate in election monitoring activities at the precinct and countywide level, such as:

Any irregularities should be reported to the Secretary of State's toll-free “Voter Protection Hotline”, 1-800-345-VOTE. 

More information about the November 2 Election, California voting systems, and voting technology reform is available from the California Voter Foundation's web site.

CVF is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advancing the responsible use of technology to improve democracy.

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This page was first published on October 4, 2004 | Last updated on January 27, 2006
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