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Pre-Emptive Election Strike

What is it with Democrats and voting equipment? They seem reflexively opposed to any technology where they can't stick a pencil lead under the clerk's fingernails to, ah, prevent undercounts. Or where the dials can't be, you know, nudged up a little bit before opening.

Now, a Denver law firm is suing nine county clerks over the choice of voting machines for this fall's elections. Because of HAVA and ADA, the number of voting machines out there to choose from is severely limited. (ADA, for instance, requires that the voter can't be given any assistance in voting whatsoever, aside from maybe tilting the machine for him. This in a state where party operatives take bulk delivery of absentee ballots for their Alzheimer's-afflicted nursing home residents.)

The lawyers say they represent a "diverse nonpartisan group of Colorado voters seeking to protect the integrity and purity of elections." The legal action seeks to block the purchase or use of Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S, and Hart InterCivic touch-screen computerized voting systems. The lawyers say the systems have a well-documented history of problems with security, reliability, verifiability, and disability access.

Named defendants in the complaint include Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis and the boards of county commissioners of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, Jefferson, La Plata, Larimer and Weld counties.

The Colorado suit is being supported by Voter Action, a nonprofit that provides legal, research, and logistical support for grassroots efforts surrounding elections. Voter Action is supporting similar efforts in Arizona, California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and other states.

Sure, they're non-partisan. Voter Action is non-partisan like Jim Jeffords is non-partisan. Here's the bio for Lowell Finley:

Lowell Finley, Esq., Berkeley, California. Mr. Finley has practiced election law for over 20 years. He is one of the few attorneys in the nation with experience litigating electronic voting issues, having successfully sued Diebold Election Systems, Inc. in a California False Claims Act case that resulted in a $2.6 million settlement. Past cases include blocking newly-elected California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from soliciting or using special interest campaign contributions to repay an illegal $4 million personal loan; representation of the California Assembly in redistricting cases before the California and United States Supreme Courts; winning ballot access for Chinese-American candidates in San Francisco and successfully suing an Orange County, California candidate for hiring uniformed security guards to intimidate Hispanic voters at the polls. Mr. Finley is a founding member and past president (1992) of the California Political Attorneys Association.

And for John Boyd, their legal advisor:

John Boyd, Esq., Freedman, Boyd, Daniels, Hollander, Goldberg & Cline, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mr. Boyd has been practicing civil rights litigation, first amendment litigation, constitutional law and election law in Albuquerque for over 25 years. Mr. Boyd represented the Democratic Party of New Mexico in the “voter i.d.” litigation that preceded the 2004 election and has participated on behalf of Democrats in redistricting litigation. He has handled a number of cases as a cooperating attorney with the ACLU. He and his partner, Nancy Hollander, are currently representing the Santa Fe-based Uniao Do Vegetal in its free exercise of religion law suit which is now pending before the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Finley contributed - albeit not very heavily - during the 2004 election cycle to both John Kerry and Mr. Boyd contributed to the Senate Campaign of Jeff Bingaman, one of the more liberal Senators going, and $2000 indirectly to the Kerry campaign. (It's unclear as to whether this is the same John Boyd who contributed to Republican Nancy Wilson's campaign in 1998, but six years is enough time to change your mind.) His partner Nancy Hollander also contributed to Bingaman's campaign. Altogether, employyees of Freedman, et. al. contributed almost $17000 since 2002 to various Democratic PACs, candidates, and party organizations, $0 to Republicans.

Likewise, employees of Wheeler Trigg Kennedy, who specialize in corporate shakedowns, have collectively contributed $5200 to Democrats, $1000 to Republicans, all in the 2004 election cycle. This include $3000 from the case's lead attorney, Paul Hultin, $500 of which went to the Kerry 2004 "If It's Close In Ohio, We Can Cheat," fund.

I'm all in favor of double-entry bookkeeping when it comes to electronic voting machines, too, but remember that these are the same people who think that asking for ID amounts to voter intimidation. I suspect this is an ongoing effort to deligitimize elections in general, throwing more and more of them into the courts on a very selective basis.

CORRECTION: I have been reliably informed that the firm does not specialize in suing firms, but rather in defending them. I clearly jumped the gun in misinterpreting the information on their website.

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