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Electronic voting fails judicial test


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POSTED: Sunday, May 24, 2009

WAILUKU » A judge has ruled that new administrative rules must be in place before the state can use electronic voting machines and transmit election results over the Internet or telephone lines in next year's elections.

State Elections Chief Kevin Cronin said last week he couldn't comment until he received the written order from Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza.

“;Currently, the state does not have a voting system for the 2010 elections,”; he said. “;But we are well aware and very concerned, and we are working to resolve that issue.”;

The judge agreed Wednesday with five Maui residents who sued the state last July.

They said the state Office of Elections used voting systems guidelines without complying with the state's administrative rules. The suit also said the state transmits election results over telephone lines and the Internet without adopting administrative rules.

One of those filing the suit, Joy Brann, said she isn't against electronic voting, but believes there should be precautions.

“;People need to be certain that who we elected is who will win,”; Brann said.

The five had asked for a declaratory ruling and an injunction against electronic voting in July, before the 2008 elections.

In August, Cardoza commended them for their “;active participation in government,”; but declined to enjoin the machines' use so soon before the November elections.

In his ruling Wednesday, Cardoza rejected the state's argument that adoption of the new methods did not need to go through rule marking, with its public notice and hearings.

Meanwhile, the state is appealing a ruling by an administrative hearings officer that canceled the contract for new voting machines after the 2008 elections because the Office of Elections allegedly acted in bad faith in awarding it to Hart InterCivic.

The officer held that the state's eight-year, $43 million contract with Hart had to be rebid after last year's elections because it was “;clearly unreasonable”; compared to the $18 million bid from rival company Election Systems & Software.