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Voter GA to appeal dismissal of electronic-voting case

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

A statewide organization says it is making preparations to challenge a recent court decision, which has significant implications for the voting process in Georgia.

The Voter GA group will, reportedly, file an appeal to continue efforts aimed at replacing the current electronic-voting system in Georgia.

Garland Favorito is the founder of Voter GA. He said he takes issue with Atlanta Circuit Judge Michael Johnson's Sept. 8 ruling to dismiss the group's July 2006 lawsuit without a trial.

We don't know why the judge threw the case out, because he has not supplied us with a written ruling," said Favorito. "We have determined at least some of the grounds for our appeal. There will be others, once we get the written ruling.

Favorito said he has serious concerns about voting practices in Georgia, dating back to when they were implemented in 2002. According to the founder, the electronic process inhibits the state's ability to audit, verify or re-count votes cast in a given election.

"You could vote for candidate 'A', the machine could record a vote for candidate 'B' and no one would ever know," he said.

Favorito has communicated his concerns to election officials in Georgia, including Secretary of State Karen Handel. However, he said those efforts have been met with little success. "The Secretary of State and the State Elections Board have expressed serious concerns about the voting machines, but, so far, they haven't done anything about them," he added. "We're hoping to get a ruling which says that our voting rights have been violated, and force the state to make the machines auditable, or replace them with auditable equipment."

Attempts to reach Handel's office, as well as that of Judge Johnson, were unsuccessful Friday.

Favorito cited reports which show the voting machines used in the state are "fundamentally flawed." He also said that other states have reported problems with the devices, which have led lawmakers in those areas to take action.

"The state of California uses a sister model, which has been de-certified three times," he continued. "The state of Maryland uses the same machines statewide, and the legislature voted to throw out all their equipment in time for the 2010 election, in favor of optical-scanning devices."

Favorito said although Voter GA is not against electronic voting in general, the lack of accountability in the current system damages the integrity of the voting process.

Voter GA issued a written statement Friday, with Mark Sawyer, the plaintiff in the dismissed case, saying that changing the voting procedure in Georgia is vitally important, as the country approaches the 2008 election.

"[Tuesday] election results will be produced and winners announced, but no election official in the state can prove that any of the announced results are in fact, correct," he said. "Left unchallenged, the ruling would allow such an unfathomable, potentially corrupt process to continue in Georgia indefinitely."

- On the Net: www.voterga.org.