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E-voting debate heats up in California
A former candidate is suing Riverside County for access to system memory, audit logs

News Story by Dan Verton

JULY 16, 2004 (COMPUTERWORLD) - A former California political candidate who lost the March 2004 race for Riverside County Board of Supervisors by only 45 votes filed a lawsuit today against the county after she was denied access to the memory and audit logs of the electronic voting systems used during the election.

Linda Soubirous filed the lawsuit against the county and its Registrar of Voters, Mischelle Townsend, with the backing of the national election integrity organization VerifiedVoting.org Inc.

The case arose after Soubirous petitioned the county registrar and machine vendor Sequoia Voting Systems for access to the systems' audit logs, redundant memory, the results of logic and accuracy tests that were conducted on the systems, and the chain-of-custody records for the system components. Despite a California law that permits any voter to request and review "all relevant election materials" pertaining to a recount, Townsend refused to grant Soubirous access to the material, arguing it was not "relevant" to a recount.

"I was shocked when Riverside County election officials told me that access to the internal memories of the voting machines was not relevant to a recount," said Soubirous. "Of course the internal information is relevant. Without it, there's no way to determine whether the votes were recorded and counted properly inside the machine."

Soubirous said she isn't seeking to challenge the election results, but only to gain access to the election data from March and for future recounts.

Earlier this month, a federal judge upheld a California directive that decertified touch-screen voting machines and withheld future certification until vendors of those systems can meet specific security requirements (see story). In May, Riverside County officials filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state seeking to overturn the ban.

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