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NJ Trial Court Finds That Electronic Voting Machines Can’t Be Upgraded to Meet State-Mandated Deadline

Constitutional Litigation Clinic will ask Appellate Division to de-commission machines

April 25, 2006 – 
In an opinion issued on Wednesday, April 19, Judge Linda Feinberg, the Assignment Judge of the New Jersey Superior Court in Mercer County, found that nearly 10,000 electronic voting machines currently in use in New Jersey cannot be upgraded to produce a voter-verified paper ballot by January 1, 2008, as is required by State law.  

“The evidence we presented,” said Professor Penny Venetis of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, “was overwhelming that New Jersey’s electronic voting machines are dinosaurs which do not have the capacity to produce a voter-verified paper ballot. We will ask that they be de-commissioned immediately.” Venetis, who tried the case before Judge Feinberg, filed the lawsuit in October 2004 on behalf of several individuals who encountered computer malfunctions when attempting to cast their votes electronically and on behalf of the Coalition for Peace Action. 

The inability of the machines to produce a voter-verified paper ballot is just one of their many deficiencies, said Venetis. She noted that New Jersey’s electronic voting machines “have been deemed among the most insecure and unreliable in the country by the National Academies of Sciences. They have been rejected and de-commissioned by California, Ohio, New Mexico, Nevada, and New York City. It is a violation of the New Jersey Constitution to continue to use these faulty voting machines.”

The New Jersey Appellate Division will use the trial court’s findings to decide the fate of New Jersey’s electronic voting machines. Oral argument is set for May 24. The Appellate Division retained jurisdiction over the case when it reinstated the case in February. “This is a huge victory for the citizens of New Jersey” Venetis added. “It demonstrates that the State’s courts are willing to hear their growing concerns that their votes are not being counted as cast.”