Marc Songini
Whistle-blower Lawsuit Alleges E-voting Fraud
Tue Aug 8, 2006 04:05


Whistle-blower Lawsuit Alleges E-voting Fraud
Marc Songini

August 07, 2006 (Computerworld) -- A federal whistle-blower lawsuit has been filed that claims one e-voting company knowingly sold electronic voting devices that did not perform as promised.

But details about the suit are sketchy because of secrecy rules surrounding whistle-blower litigation, according to Matt Schultz, an attorney at Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Echsner & Proctor PA, the Pensacola, Fla.-based law firm that is handling the case. Schultz was assigned to the suit, but the lead attorneys are Mike Papantonio and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Kennedy, son of the late New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, gained attention with a recent story he wrote for Rolling Stone magazine in which he questioned the outcome of the 2004 presidential election. The whistle-blower lawsuit is not related to the allegations in the story.

The lawsuit was filed about four weeks ago, but Schultz was unable to divulge in which federal district the filing took place. He was also unable to discuss which e-voting machine vendor is targeted, because the document is under seal.

According to Schultz, employees at one of the four major e-voting vendors in the U.S. have testified to misrepresentations by the unnamed company about the accuracy, reliability and security of the direct recording electronic devices. DRE usually signifies a touch-screen voting system.

The lawsuit is not related to any particular election outcome. "This is about faulty machines being fobbed off on the government and being bought with federal money under the Help America Vote Act," Schultz said. Among its other mandates, HAVA stipulated that by last January, every election precinct in the country had to have an e-voting system that allowed handicapped voters to cast ballots unaided.

The suit has been filed under qui tam, or whistle-blower provisions of the False Claims Act, and remains under seal until the attorney general's office decides whether it will carry the suit forward, said Schultz.

Proponents of electronically enabled voting devices such as touch-screen or optical systems say the machines can tabulate votes with much greater accuracy than older punch-card ballot systems. Critics, however, have long argued that electronic devices are unreliable and subject to hacking and, without a paper trail, can't be properly audited.



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