Safe Voting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Free Speech For People published a report entitled: “Safe Voting During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” in collaboration with Dr. Joia Mukherjee, a physician, clinical researcher, and educator trained in Infectious Disease, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and public health at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health, and Mark Ritchie, an election management expert, advisor to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and Minnesota’s Secretary of State from 2007-15. The report identifies voting machines themselves as possible vectors of infection in the novel coronavirus pandemic, and examines the consequences and possible remedies. While some states have already begun postponing primary elections, the guide outlines four legal and policy changes every state should make to ensure a safe, accessible, and trustworthy election.

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Featured Case: NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference v. Boockvar

Free Speech For People and the law firm Dechert LLP filed a lawsuit in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on behalf of the Pennsylvania State Conference of the NAACP challenging a broad range of Pennsylvania election practices as unsafe and unequal during the COVID-19 pandemic. The complaint alleges that the state’s insufficient number of polling places, use in many counties of repeat-touch voting machines, requirement that voting in person must take place within a single day, and limited access to vote-by-mail will result in unsafe voting conditions and abridgment of the right to vote, with particular adverse impacts for voters of color, in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution’s guarantees of free and fair elections and equal protection of the law.

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Legal Actions Challenging the Use of Insecure Voting Machines

FIGHTING NORTH CAROLINA’S USE OF INSECURE AND UNSAFE VOTING MACHINES: NORTH CAROLINA NAACP V. NORTH CAROLINA STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS

On behalf of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and several North Carolina voters, Free Speech For People has filed a lawsuit in North Carolina state court challenging the new electronic voting system that Mecklenburg County and several other North Carolina counties rushed to implement for the 2020 elections. We filed this suit in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and with the pro bono assistance of the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.

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LEGAL CHALLENGE TO THE INSECURE EXPRESSVOTE XL VOTING MACHINE: NEDC V. BOOCKVAR

Free Speech For People has filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court challenging the use of the insecure, unreliable ExpressVote XL voting machines. The lawsuit, filed against Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar with the pro bono assistance of the law firm Baker Hostetler LLP, argues that the ExpressVote XL does not meet legal requirements for voting machines under the Pennsylvania Election Code, and use of it violates voting rights under the Pennsylvania Constitution. Our lawsuit seeks an order to the Secretary to decertify the ExpressVote XL.

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SUCCESS! CHALLENGING INSECURE VOTING MACHINES IN SOUTH CAROLINA CASE: HEINDEL V. ANDINO

We represented the National Election Defense Coalition and experts in computer science from around the country as friends of the court in a case concerning the security of election technology in South Carolina. We argued that the state’s use of iVotronic direct-recording electronic voting machines is disenfranchising citizens through software errors and remains susceptible to hacking by domestic and foreign actors. After the appeal was fully briefed, South Carolina’s State Election Commission announced that it had entered a contract to purchase new voting machines that would replace the iVotronic machines statewide.  The new systems have been delivered (and the iVotronic machines removed) in most of the state, and the rollout is on track to be complete before 2020.

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CHALLENGING INSECURE VOTING MACHINES IN TENNESSEE: SAVE V. HARGETT

We represent the National Election Defense Coalition and experts in computer science from around the country as friends of the court in a case concerning the security of election technology in Shelby County, Tennessee (the state’s largest). We argue that the county’s use of AccuVote TSx direct-recording electronic voting machines is disenfranchising citizens through software errors and remains susceptible to hacking by domestic and foreign actors.

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COMMENT SUBMITTED TO THE U.S. ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION

Free Speech For People and the National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC) submitted a public comment to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission regarding the Commission’s proposed new voting system guidelines. The Commission’s past practice has been that, after guidelines have been updated, voting machine vendors can still certify their machines against the older guidelines. Our comment asks the Commission to ensure that the older guidelines are retired for good.

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COMMENT HIGHLIGHTING MAJOR FLAWS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY VOTING SYSTEM

Free Speech For People and the National Election Defense Coalition submitted public comments to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, regarding the proposed certification of Los Angeles county’s Voting Solutions for All People 2.0 (VSAP) election system. The joint letter addresses the system’s non-compliance with California Voting System Standards, and flaws that bring the VSAP’s security and reliability into question.

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CHALLENGING FALSE ADVERTISING BY VOTING MACHINE VENDORS

Free Speech For People and the National Election Defense Coalition are calling on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to investigate ES&S, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of electronic voting machines, for falsely advertising that a key component of its voting system has passed federal certification. ES&S is claiming its DS200 ballot scanners with wireless modems are federally certified when they are not.  Our letter asks the Commission to investigate ES&S’s false marketing, require substantive corrective action, and subject ES&S to rigorous ongoing overview.

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Challenging Internet Voting

Free Speech For People joined a coalition of scientific experts and government watchdog groups in issuing an open letter calling on Governors, Secretaries of State and State Elections Directors to avoid the use of any internet voting or voting app system in U.S. elections. Free Speech For People signed the letter along with the AAAS Center For Scientific Evidence in Public Issues, the Association for Computing Machinery U.S. Technology Policy Committee, Brennan Center For Justice, Common Cause, Computer Research Association, R Street, and Verified Voting.

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Legal Actions Challenging Election Officials with Ties to Voting Machine Vendors

DEMANDING ACCESS TO ELECTION SECURITY EMAILS

Free Speech For People is representing the National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC) in a lawsuit seeking to uncover communications about election security to and from the National Association of Secretaries of State. The lawsuit under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act charges the Indiana Secretary of State, Connie Lawson, with unlawfully denying access to public records regarding the reliability and security of voting machines.

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Uncovering Voting Machine Failures

REQUEST FOR RECORDS SUBMITTED TO ELECTIONS DIVISION OF THE TEXAS SECRETARY OF STATE

On November 28, 2018, Free Speech For People and the National Election Defense Coalition submitted a request for records under the Texas Public Information Act for information about a serious voting machine problem that manifested during the 2018 general election.

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