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North Carolina Voters Claim New Voting Machines Are ‘Unverifiable,’ Threaten Constitutional Rights

A coalition of voting rights advocates on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina State Board of Elections and several counties, alleging that the voting machines being used in the state are unverifiable and insecure, violating citizens’ constitutional rights by threatening to disenfranchise thousands of voters.

The lawsuit, filed in the General Court of Justice Superior Division by the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and multiple individual voters, claimed that the touchscreen ExpressVote XL machines currently being used in the state are “insecure, unreliable, and unverifiable,” to such an extent that their usage indicates a failure to preserve the integrity of the state’s electoral process.

“The ExpressVote’s defects and security flaws create the risk that Plaintiffs, together with other North Carolina voters, will have their votes rendered meaningless or, worse yet, deemed cast for the wrong candidate. This creates a risk that the wrong candidates will be declared winners of elections improperly and take office in contravention of the very essence of our democracy,” the lawsuit stated. “The right to vote means that voters have the right not only to cast a ballot, but also to have that vote accurately recorded and counted. Therefore, when votes are not properly recorded or counted, that right is violated. Using the ExpressVote prevents voters from reading their actual ballot before casting it and verifying that their vote is properly recorded, denying their right to vote.”

To use the ExpressVote XL, voters choose their candidate digitally and then get a printed receipt with a barcode “that cannot be read by the voter and cannot be sufficiently audited,” which the lawsuit says makes it impossible for voters to know whether their vote was accurately recorded.

The complaint also states that using the touchscreen voting machine during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is particularly risky, as thousands of voters being forced to touch the same screen will increase the chance that the virus is spread.

The ExpressVote XL machines were previously used in judicial election in Pennsylvania last year that resulted in thousands of votes not being counted. The company behind the machines, Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software, claimed the incorrect vote count was the result of human error in formatting the ballot.

Plaintiffs are asking the court to declare it unconstitutional for the machines to be used in any public election  in North Carolina, and requested the court decertify the machines from use in any future elections.

[image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.