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Touch screen paper trail demand rebuffed again

This time a U.S. court rejects U.S. Rep. Wexler's lawsuit saying printouts of of touch screen ballots should be required.

By Associated Press
Published May 25, 2004

FORT LAUDERDALE - A federal judge on Monday threw out a Democratic congressman's lawsuit seeking to require that electronic voting machines produce a paper trail.

It was the second time U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler was denied in his challenge of the legality of paperless touch screen voting machines. A similar case in state courts was dismissed in February. That ruling is being appealed.

In dismissing the federal complaint, U.S. District Judge James Cohn said he can't get involved because the issue is being considered by state courts.

Also, Cohn ruled that the lawsuit would require the federal courts to become deeply involved with election procedures, which typically are left to the states.

Wexler, D-Boca Raton, argued in the federal suit that without a printout, voters in Florida's 15 touch screen counties are being denied their right to have their votes accurately recorded, reported and recounted if necessary.

On the touch screen system, voters touch a computer screen to mark their selections. Their votes are tabulated on the computer and no ballot is printed out.

The suit was filed against Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood and elections supervisors Theresa LePore of Palm Beach County and Kay Clem of Indian River County.

Wexler's first complaint in state court was thrown out because the judge ruled that the congressman couldn't show he had been injured by the voting system. Three other plaintiffs, including two county commissioners, were added to the federal suit, filed in February after the state case was dismissed.

Several Florida counties spent millions buying new touch screen systems after the 2000 presidential election fiasco, where thousands of punch card ballots were improperly marked. President Bush defeated former Vice President Al Gore by 537 votes in the state after a contentious recount.

[Last modified May 24, 2004, 23:42:10]


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