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California Pollworkers Told to Withhold Information From Voters

Press Release   Common Dreams and EFF   19 October 2004

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA - October 18- Pollworkers in Santa Clara County are being trained not to offer voters a chance to use paper ballots instead of electronic voting machines, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has learned. California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley mandated in May that all polling places offer a paper ballot option, which would allow people concerned about e-voting machine reliability a chance to vote on paper ballots at the polls. But pollworkers in Santa Clara County are being instructed not to tell voters that this option is available. Instead, they will make paper ballots available only if voters specifically request them.

Ed Cherlin, a pollworker being trained in Santa Clara County, said he was very disturbed to learn that he was not supposed to mention the paper option. "I object to the government telling me that I can't tell people about their rights," he said. Representatives of the voting commissions in Orange County and Riverside confirm that they also will not be informing voters about the paper option at the polls. There are ten counties in California using paperless e-voting machines known as DREs. It is not clear at this time whether all ten are adopting similar policies.

"When poll workers don't inform people about their options at the voting booth, they go against the spirit of the Secretary of State's mandate," said EFF staff attorney Matt Zimmerman. "More importantly, they undermine people's trust in the voting process."

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