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Voting Rights Advocates Represented by Constitutional Litigation Clinic Gain Access to Test Electronic Voting Machines

April 25, 2008 – 
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg ruled today that voting rights advocates concerned about the reliability of electronic voting machines used in the state can have access to the machines to test their software. “This is the first ruling in the country to give litigants access to these machines,” said Clinical Professor Penny Venetis, co-director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, “and is an important victory for the citizens of New Jersey who have a constitutional right to an accurate count of their vote.”

Since 2004, Venetis and her students in the Constitutional Litigation Clinic have represented citizens in litigation that argues the electronic voting machines should be de-commissioned if they cannot produce a voter-verified paper record.

Software testing will be carried out under a protective order intended to protect the trade secrets of Sequoia Voting Systems and other manufacturers of the machines used in New Jersey. Today’s decision rejected an attempt by Sequoia to overturn a March ruling by Judge Feinberg that election officials in six counties make their machines available for testing. According to Venetis, testing will be performed on machines that malfunctioned on February 5, the date of the New Jersey presidential primary, as well as those that showed no signs of problems. The plaintiffs contend that the electronic voting machines are insecure and can be hacked into.