Voting Rights Press Release

01.28.08

ACLU Asks for Injunction to Prevent Use of Unfair Voting Technology

CLEVELAND- The American Civil Liberties Union and American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a motion for preliminary injunction today asking Judge Kathleen O’Malley of the Federal Court of the Northern District of Ohio to prevent Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections from using balloting technology that does not give notice to voters of problems with their ballot. The motion follows a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on January 17, 2008 challenging technology that does not allow the voter to verify their ballot is filled out correctly.

ACLU Voting Rights Project Attorney Meredith Bell-Platts said, “Every voter who goes to the polls must have the opportunity to verify his or her ballot is free from errors. The evidence is overwhelming that when voters do not have access to technology that notifies them of ballot errors, many more ballots are left uncounted.”

Recently, Secretary Brunner and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections opted to implement ballots that do not provide notice of problems with votes, despite strenuous objections from the ACLU, statewide county elections officials and other voting rights activists. Brunner’s proposal for Cuyahoga County differs from other counties in Ohio that use paper ballots because other counties have scanners at the polls to alert voters of errors on their ballot before they leave. Electronic machines that were used in Cuyahoga County and 56 other Ohio counties also provide notice to voters of problems with their ballot.

On January 22, 2008, the Ohio Association of Election Officials (OAEO), a non-partisan organization representing Ohio’s elections officials, voted unanimously against the sweeping changes Brunner has proposed and particularly that counties should not adopt any voting technology that prevents voters from verifying their ballot is filled out correctly.

ACLU of Ohio Staff Attorney Carrie Davis concluded, “Voting rights experts and Ohio’s own elections officials agree that voters must be alerted to possible problems with their ballot. Hopefully, the Court will prevent Cuyahoga County from implementing this dangerous technology in the March 2008 primary and protect voters from having their ballots left uncounted.”