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E-vote critics sue over Maryland poll watching


Associated Press  12 October 2004

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A group that has challenged the security of Maryland's electronic voting filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the state board of elections, saying the state is unfairly blocking it from posting poll watchers on Election Day.

The state agreed last week to allow TrueVoteMD members to stand inside polling places to watch for problems with the machines. But the group also wants to post people immediately outside to interview voters and give them information on electronic voting.

The Maryland attorney general's office said volunteers must stay behind the 100-foot boundary outside polling places that restricts political parties and others involved in electioneering.

TrueVoteMD claims it is simply collecting information from voters and that forcing it behind that line would violate the free speech right of the poll watchers. The lawsuit argues the group is no different from exit poll workers who can cross the line to ask people about their votes.

"They (the state) don't get to discriminate against people because they don't like their point of view," said Linda Schade, one of TrueVoteMD's founders.

The group is asking a Baltimore federal judge to impose a restraining order on the state before the election that would allow poll watchers within the 100-foot limit.

But state officials said the group's lawsuit nullifies all of the agreement the two sides reached last week, including issues that are not in dispute, such as TrueVoteMD placing watchers in the polling places.

The group's plans, which include handing out fliers reading, "Don't let the Computer Eat Your Vote," amount to electioneering, said Judith Armold, an assistant attorney general representing the state board of elections.

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