Media Advisory: Early voting incidents raise new concerns about the security and accuracy of touch-screen electronic voting machines in Colorado

11.05.2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 5, 2012, Denver, Colorado 
Contact: Connie Proulx, 303.244.1919, proulx@wtotrial.com

WHAT:
Early voting incidents raise new concerns about the security and accuracy of touch-screen electronic voting machines in Colorado

WHO:
Paul Hultin and Matthew Johnson, attorneys for Myriah Conroy and Jeffrey Sherman

HISTORY OF TOUCH SCREEN PROBLEMS

On the eve of the 2012 General Election in the swing state of Colorado, attorneys representing nonpartisan Colorado voters are expressing high-level concerns about incidents in which electronic voting machines have miscounted votes in early voting in Mesa and Pueblo Counties. On November 1, 2012 the Republican National Committee issued a press release reporting similar touch-screen malfunctions in five other states. Touch screens are being used in every Colorado County. Three Colorado counties – Arapahoe, Adams, and Weld – will primarily use touch-screen voting in tomorrow's General Election, with 650 touch-screen machines being used in Arapahoe County alone.

Attorneys Paul Hultin and Matthew Johnson of the Denver-based civil litigation law firm Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP (WTO) have represented, pro bono, Jeffrey Sherman and Myriah Sullivan Conroy (the "Electors") since 2006 when the Denver District Court ordered the Secretary of State to adopt security testing and safeguards for touch screens in Conroy v. Dennis. Un-rebutted testimony from national experts was presented in Conroy that touch-screen voting machines are easily hacked and are unreliable. As a result of Conroy, a law was passed and mandatory election rules were adopted which require the Secretary of State (SOS) to inspect and test touch-screen voting systems in two Colorado counties per year to make sure they meet state security standards and reliably and accurately count votes. The SOS is also required to inspect software incident records of the touch-screen manufacturers to identify and fix software bugs and operating problems with touch-screen machines before they are used in an election.

In November 2011, Electors and their attorneys began a dialogue with the SOS questioning his proposal to remove important county security requirements for touch-screen voting machines. In August 2012, the Electors and their WTO pro bono lawyers discovered that Secretary of State Gessler, since he was elected, had not followed his own mandatory touch-screen rules. He had not done required security and accuracy testing and had not inspected any software incident reports. The Electors were left with no choice but to send notice that they were prepared to file a lawsuit requesting an emergency order that Gessler follow the law and comply with his own touch-screen voting rules. Only then, on October 10, 2012, did Gessler promise to follow the law and inspect and test the touch-screen voting systems in Arapahoe, Adams and Weld Counties.

Hultin stated, "It is regrettable that it took the threat of a lawsuit to force Colorado's Chief Election Officer to follow his own touch-screen rules adopted to ensure that every vote is accurately counted in this critical election."

Documentation of the one-day "reviews" done by the SOS proves that the work was superficial, incomplete and did not involve even one test of the touch screens' security and accuracy. The SOS admits that his office never inspected manufacturer software incident reports as required by the election rules.

Johnson analyzed the documentation provided by the SOS for the one-day reviews done a few weeks before the election. He said, "It is apparent that the SOS was not prepared and did not do thorough or professional testing to make sure that this dubious and outdated voting technology is ready for the election."

This leaves Colorado voters, especially in Arapahoe, Adams and Weld counties, in a precarious position as they go to the polls to vote tomorrow.

RECOMMENDATION TO VOTERS

With a razor-thin margin expected in Colorado, it is critical that voters take action to avoid problems with touch-screen electronic voting.

Myriah Conroy, who has been deeply involved in election integrity efforts since 2006, said: "voters should request and use paper ballots wherever possible. If voters must use touch-screen voting machines they should use extra vigilance to make sure that their votes are accurately recorded and counted."

Iraq war veteran Jeff Sherman said, "We hope this election proceeds fairly and accurately in Colorado. We will continue our efforts after the election to make sure that the Secretary of State follows the law and his own regulations to ensure the integrity of future elections."

Trial Tested™ Denver-based civil litigation firm Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell helps its clients resolve disputes that threaten their businesses, brands, products, people, and customers. WTO handles trials, appeals, arbitrations, and related areas of complex civil litigation, including class actions and multidistrict litigation, often as national or regional trial counsel, for many of the nation's best-known companies in a wide variety of industries.