Free Speech For People’s Courtney Hostetler recently joined Brad Friedman of The Bradcast to outline the NAACP’s new lawsuit in North Carolina over the ES&S ExpressVote touch screen voting system. Free Speech For People is co-counsel in this case representing the North Carolina NAACP and several North Carolina voters, which was filed in Wake County Superior Court last week.  In addition to Free Speech For People, the legal team includes the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP. 

You can listen to the entire discussion here:

The aim of the lawsuit is to prevent North Carolina from using the “fatally-flawed” ExpressVote touch screen voting machines, which are currently in use in more than 20 counties across the state.

“[The machines] are insecure and unverifiable,” Hostetler said. “The ExpressVote really fails on both counts. And it makes it an untenable and, we think, unconstitutional machine to require any voter to use.” 

“When you have these machines, you have a likelihood that there’s going to be backup at the polls,” she said. “When you’re using hand-marked paper ballots you can often get more people voting at the same time…That’s a form of voter suppression. When you have people in Mecklenburg County trying to take time off from work, and they show up and there’s a three hour line to get in the door, not everybody’s going to be able to stay in that three hour line.”

Aside from the touchscreen machines creating massive backup at the ballot box, they also propose an added contamination risk during the Covid-19 pandemic, with potentially hundreds of voters touching the same screen over the course of hours. The sanitization process between each voter, she explained, would compound the slow pace of the lines. 

“Even if you have a trained poll worker who’s extremely efficient, and only takes a minute to clean the machine, you have two hundred people going through,” she said. “That’s two hundred minutes. Right there you’ve added three extra hours that this machine can’t be used during the day. That’s going to cause backup.”  

Hostetler also explained how the specific ES&S ExpressVote system poses many security and accuracy flaws independent of Covid-19. The system is insecure and prone to failure, as seen in several states in recent elections in which these machines were used. Of the four ballot marking devices certified for use in North Carolina, the ExpressVote machines are the only one to tabulate bar-coded, unverifiable “paper ballot” summary cards. 

“That barcode can’t be read by people. You as the voter cannot read that. But that’s what the machine reads,” Hostetler said. “So you as the voter have to trust that the bar code matches the summary, and that the summary is correct. And that’s a real problem.” 

“Of course, why worry?” Friedman replied, laughing. “Why worry? I’m sure it’s fine.” 

You can listen to the entire discussion here