“Democracy itself is at risk,” Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed on behalf of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP cites insecurity and health risk of touch screen voting machines during a pandemic.

Raleigh, NC (July 22, 2020) – Today, voting rights advocates filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in Wake County Superior Court alleging imminent risk to voters’ right to free elections and equal protection under the laws if they are required to vote on the ExpressVote touch screen ballot marking device. 

The motion follows a lawsuit that was filed in April challenging the new electronic voting system that Mecklenburg County and several other North Carolina counties rushed to implement for the 2020 elections.  The suit alleges the new system is vulnerable to security threats and its results are unverifiable, in violation of the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of free and fair elections and equal protection of the law.  The suit also alleges that the repeat touch screen devices can serve as vectors for spreading the COVID-19 disease during the pandemic, presenting an additional unconstitutional burden on voters.  The North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and several North Carolina voters are bringing the lawsuit.  They are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Free Speech For People, and the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.

“As we draw closer to the November 2020 general elections, it is clear that the Court will need to intervene soon to protect the rights of North Carolina voters to a fair election,” said the Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, President of the North Carolina NAACP. “Election officials in the Defendant Counties are requiring that voters cast their ballots using insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe machines, during a pandemic in which repeated touching the same surface and waiting in long lines will create serious risks to the health and safety of voters. The preliminary injunction will make elections safer, protect North Carolina voters, and preserve the integrity of our elections.”

“The preliminary injunction will protect voters from having to vote on an unreliable, unverifiable, and insecure machine in the upcoming November 2020 general election,” says Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel for Free Speech For People. “Without this injunction, Defendants will continue to require its voters to vote on a machine that prints a human unreadable barcode for tabulation, which is vulnerable to manipulation and error and which cannot be verified by the voter. And during the pandemic, those Defendant Counties that require all voters to use these machines will put them at serious and unnecessary risk for virus transmission, forcing voters to choose between their health and their right to vote–a position that is both untenable and unconstitutional.”

“These ExpressVote ballot-marking devices are woefully inadequate and fail to meet the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees for free and fair elections and equal protection of the laws,” said John Powers, counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Not only are these voting machines vulnerable to cybersecurity threats and prevent voters from being able to verify their choices, but they put peoples’ health at risk.  North Carolinians shouldn’t have to vote on machines that increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the midst of the pandemic.”

Read the motion here.