Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Hawaii’s 2010 elections enjoined by Maui judge
by Larry Geller
Judge Joseph E. Cardoza granted an injunction today against Hawaii’s illegal use of electronic voting machines and the illegal transmission of vote results over the Internet. A written decision will be issued in the coming weeks, he said.
The suit (Babson v. Cronin, Civ No. 2cc08-1-000378 ) was brought by attorney Lance Collins on behalf of five citizens of Maui against Hawaii’s Chief Elections Officer (see background on Disappeared News in these articles). The suit challenged three aspects of the voting process, according to attorney Collins:
1. The use of electronic voting machines was not adopted
through lawful rulemaking n accordance with the Hawai'i Administrative Procedure Act (HAPA).
2. The use of the Internet and/or telephone lines to transmit
vote counts was not adopted through lawful rulemaking (HAPA).
3. The use of the Internet and/or telephone lines to transmit
vote counts is not allowed under current state law.
As I wrote earlier, one of the plaintiffs, Bob Babson, has been particularly concerned that electronic transmission of vote counts can compromise the integrity of the entire election system. He emailed:
The Hart tabulators at the four county count centers are connected to telephone lines so they can transmit votes to the Hart tabulator at the state count center which is also connected to telephone lines.
However, since they are connected to open telephone lines, they could easily be programmed (secretly) to dial … a secret website controlled by Hart where the vote files could be opened and votes flipped and then immediately sent onto the state count center.
Bob correctly points out that we would never know if that has been done.
An administrative hearing officer last year, in a ruling that was “extremely critical of Kevin Cronin, the state's chief elections officer” (Honolulu Advertiser,Voting-machine deal in jeopardy ,8/10/2008), found that the Office of Elections acted in bad faith in awarding the contract for voting computers to Hart. The contract was to be cancelled at the end of the year. This new ruling by Judge Cardoza adds that the machines were used in a way that is contrary to Hawaii law.
It would be timely to review the actions of the Office of Elections and see what adjustments need to be made in its management. As attorney Collins said in his statement today after the judge’s ruling:
“Voting is the bedrock of a democratic society. The desire to use the latest technologies cannot override requirements for orderly and secure vote counting procedures.”
There is time to fix this before the 2010 elections. We should not assume that the Office of Elections is able to do that on its own, given the track record of its current chief elections officer.
Update: the case number in the original post was incorrect. It has been fixed above. You can follow the case by going to the state Judiciary's web site and go to "Search Court Records" and input 2cc08-1-000378.