October 26, 2014

Voting machine lawsuit headed to court, Election Commission to respond (AUDIO)

A federal judge says the South Carolina Election Commission has until August 20 to submit its defense against a lawsuit alleging that the state’s voting machines don’t meet federal requirements for record keeping.

After South Carolina Progressive Network Director Brett Bursey filed the complaint June 17, the judge gave the parties a month to try and resolve the matter before it was litigated. A month later Bursey filed a report concluding that the two parties could not agree, since there could be no independent audit of the voting system. Bursey said the election commission would not agree to an audit by university experts, and an audit by another source was too expensive, at a cost of $120,000.

Bursey says the recent primary made it obvious that the voting system needs to change.

AUDIO: Bursey–SC voting machines are like adding machines (:50)

Bursey says there are plenty of federal statutes that address the preservation of voting records.

There are questions as to whether your machines can record your vote in a way that we can go back and determine what happened, in a race where you have a lot of discrepancies, or in a race which is just very close. We’re looking forward to this opportunity because this matter has never been litigated in the United States before, whether these paperless machines meet federal statutes.

Bursey says there some Republican Statehouse races that required recounts after the June primary, but he says a recount from an electronic machine always produces the same result.

“I believe that the Election Commission doesn’t want a full system audit for fear that it would conclude, like a recent audit in Iowa did, that these machines should be scrapped,” Bursey says. He says only six states now use a statewide, paperless system like the one in South Carolina. Bursey says Maryland outlawed the paperless machines last year, and ballots in 38 states are cast on voter verifiable paper records.

Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire says since the matter is an ongoing lawsuit, the commission has no comment on the case. But about the voting machines Whitmire did say that they are accurate and reliable. He says the system has proven itself through thousands of local and statewide elections and is one of the best voting systems in the world.