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Rutgers Law Professor Will Argue to Appeals Court That Thousands of Electronic Voting Machines Should Be De-Commissioned

January 24, 2006 – 
Professor Penny Venetis of the Rutgers School of Law–Newark’s Constitutional Litigation Clinic will ask the N.J. Appellate Division to de-commission over 10,000 electronic voting machines to be used in N.J elections. The appeal will be argued at 9:30 am in the Morris County Courthouse. Venetis is representing citizens groups who are concerned about protecting the franchise, as well as an individual who tried to vote on a malfunctioning machine. The Clinic sued the Attorney General’s office in 2004, charging that New Jersey’s electronic voting machines known as DREs (direct recording electronic voting machines) cannot be entrusted to count votes accurately. “The trial court hastily and improperly disregarded our concerns,” said Venetis, “ignoring the vast scientific evidence showing that N.J.’s DREs are too insecure to trust with our votes.”

Numerous media accounts have reported that the same machines used in New Jersey have malfunctioned throughout the country and resulted in the disenfranchisement of voters. The exact machines used in New Jersey have been de-commissioned in California, Ohio, Nevada and New York City after they were found to be insecure. There is a consensus among leading computer scientists that DRE voting machines are vulnerable to malicious tampering and internal malfunctions that cannot be detected by any of the security precautions currently in place in New Jersey.

The Rutgers lawsuit fueled the growing concern over paperless DREs, which ultimately prompted the New Jersey Legislature to pass a bill requiring all machines to be equipped with voter-verified paper ballots by 2008. Until all voting machines are updated, however, hundreds of millions of votes can be lost or miscounted. Thousands of local and statewide elections will be conducted between now and 2008 using unauditable machines that are known to have failed, and that lack the ability to allow for an accurate recount. Venetis will argue that the case should be reinstated expeditiously and that all New Jersey electronic voting machines should be de-commissioned.