“With this brief, election security experts are sounding the alarm about the vulnerability of voting systems in South Carolina and in other states using electronic voting machines which cannot be trusted for properly counting our votes. With the 2020 election looming, this case provides the opportunity for the courts to intervene and protect the fundamental right to vote of all South Carolinians.” – John Bonifaz, President, Free Speech For People

The National Election Defense Coalition, Free Speech For People, and experts in computer science from around the country filed on Tuesday, April 17, 2019, an amicus brief before the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in a case concerning the security of election technology in South Carolina. The brief argues that the state’s system is disenfranchising citizens through software errors and remains susceptible to hacking by domestic and foreign actors.

In the case, Heindel v. Andino, the plaintiffs, represented by Protect Democracy, contend that the state’s use of iVotronic direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines creates numerous documented problems when reporting votes. The system has been shown to arbitrarily count some votes twice while leaving others unrecorded. In some cases, faulty touch-screen calibration and software issues have caused the machines to incorrectly record a voter’s candidate of choice, similar to issues with straight-ticket voting in Texas in 2018. The machines are also highly susceptible to hacking, as they are manufactured abroad, lack proper encryption technology, and the software does not meet standard coding practices. Compounding these problems is a lack of a physical ballot of record that is necessary to conduct an effective post-election audit capable of reliably spotting mistakes in the tallies made by the machines. The plaintiffs argued that the combined effect of these issues justifies a suit on the grounds of unconstitutional voter disenfranchisement, but the federal district court refused to hear the case, saying their claims were “merely speculative.” The amicus brief argues that the federal appeals court should reverse this decision so that South Carolinians can be guaranteed equal, protected participation in future elections.

Click here to read the “friend-of-the-court” brief.

Click here to download the press release.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, User: Douglas W. Jones