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Two more Southern California counties allowed to use e-voting

Associated Press

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Riverside and San Bernardino counties will be allowed to use electronic voting machines in the November election after reaching an agreement with California's secretary of state to enact new ballot protections.

Among other things the agreement, reached Tuesday, requires election officials to provide paper ballots for voters who decline to use the touch-screen machines at the polls.

Lawmakers from Maryland to California are expressing doubts about the integrity of paperless voting terminals made by several large manufacturers, which up to 50 million Americans will use in November.

In the March primary, 573 of 1,038 polling places in San Diego County failed to open on time because of computer malfunctions.

In April, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley blocked electronic voting in 10 counties until they met new conditions to prevent a recurrence of the March problems. He also banned a specific voting machine made by Diebold Inc. that was used in four other counties. Shelley said it used uncertified software.

Eight counties now have had their e-voting systems recertified by Shelley after agreeing to new security conditions. No agreement has been reached to allow e-voting to resume in Plumas, Alameda, Kern, San Joaquin, San Diego and San Joaquin counties.

California counties spent more than $100 million on electronic voting systems that Shelley banned. Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern and Plumas counties sued over Shelley's order. They argued that the counties had met previous security measures required by the secretary of state's office. Disability rights activists joined the suit, arguing that it disenfranchised disabled voters.

Last week, a federal judge refused to lift the ban.

On Tuesday, Riverside and San Bernardino counties indicated they will out of the suit.

"We felt it was more important to settle than to spend more time going through the court process," said Roy Wilson, chairman of Riverside County's Board of Supervisors. "The end goal is to have a safe, secure election."

It was not immediately clear whether Kern and Plumas counties would continue the lawsuit.

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