Suit seeks to ban Indiana voting machines lacking paper trail

A lawsuit filed in Indianapolis on Thursday morning asks a federal judge to decertify voting machines in Indiana before the 2020 election that do not provide a voter-verified paper trail. The suit says about 58 of Indiana’s 92 counties continue to use machines at the polls that lack a paper trail and are therefore not sufficiently secure.

Nonprofit Indiana Vote by Mail and several Indiana voters are asking a federal court to compel state election officials to decertify voting machines they say are insecure because they do not provide a voter-verified paper audit trail. The suit asks for an order that would decertify the machines before the 2020 presidential election.

“Indiana is one of a handful of states that permits paperless voting, and most Indiana counties use voting machines with no paper trail,” Barbara Tully, president of Indiana Vote by Mail said in a statement announcing the filing of the suit. “Vote by Mail has advocated for secure voting procedures around the state. Unfortunately, it appears that most counties will not take action to ensure secure voting machines before the 2020 election.”

The suit before Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker is Indiana Vote By Mail et al. v. Indiana Election Commission, et al. , 1:19-cv-04245.  Indiana Vote by Mail and several named voters are represented in the litigation by Indianapolis attorneys Bill Groth and Jim Harper.

“Indiana lawmakers have recognized that we have a problem, and they had identified the solution,” Harper said. “Unfortunately, they have decided not to implement that solution until 2030. Hoosier voters face critical elections in 2020, and the time to act is now.”

A spokeswoman for the office of Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said the office does not comment on pending litigation.

Marion County is among those in central Indiana where voters use a paper ballot that they mark before feeding it into an optical scan device that tallies votes. Nearby Hancock, Johnson and Madison counties likewise use optical scanners and paper ballots. However, voters in central Indiana’s Boone, Hamilton, Hendricks, Morgan and Shelby counties use digital record electronic machines that have no paper trail. The lawsuit seeks a court order to decertify such machines.

In Indiana’s other population centers, larger counties using paperless machines the suit aims to invalidate include Allen, Delaware, Elkhart, Grant, Kosciusko, Lake, LaPorte, Tippecanoe and Wayne, according to data from the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office.

“All Hoosiers, not just those who reside in the 34 counties which already use machines that generate a paper trail, are entitled to know that our elections are secure and honest, and that their vote will be accurately counted. Mounting evidence indicates that foreign actors, including agents of the Russian government, have tried and will continue to try to hack into American voting machines,” Groth said in a statement announcing the suit.

“Cybersecurity experts agree that the most important steps that states can take is to adopt machines with a paper trail and to conduct random, risk-limiting audits. Unfortunately, most Indiana counties have not taken either of these steps.”

Groth noted the Indiana suit comes after a federal judge in Atlanta decertified voting machines without a paper trail in Georgia for the 2020 elections and thereafter. In August, District Judge Amy Totenberg’s 153-page order in Curling v. Raffensperger, 1:17-CV-2989, ruled that DRE machines were “particularly susceptible to manipulation and malfunction” and that systems that did not have a paper trail were “not reliably secure.” The Atlanta district judge allowed the machines to be used in elections this year, but not afterward.

Indiana Vote by Mail says it works to protect the integrity of Hoosier elections and that it’s fighting to make sure that every county has voting machines that produce a voter verified paper audit trail.

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