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Germany high court finds electronic voting unconstitutional

[JURIST] The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany [official website, in German] on Tuesday ruled [decision, in German; press release] that the use of electronic voting machines in elections is unconstitutional. The ruling comes after a challenge to the use of the machines in the 2005 Bundestag election. Plaintiffs had argued [DW report] that electronically counted votes could easily be tampered with. In reaching their decision, the court acknowledged the potential for fraud and electronic errors, and further examined the protection of voter rights, ruling that voters must be able to know that their votes will be accurately counted. Although the court did not ban the use of all voting machines, only ones that did not comply with constitutional standards, the decision will likely jeopardize [AP report] the use of electronic voting machines in future elections.

Electronic voting has faced constitutional controversy in the US for several years. In September, a Georgia court granted summary judgment [JURIST report] to the State of Georgia against a state constitutional challenge to the use of electronic voting machines. Similar challenges in Maryland, New Jersey, and Florida [JURIST reports] to the legality of paper-free voting systems have also been unsuccessful. In December 2006, a draft report [text, PDF; JURIST report] from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) [official website] and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) [official website] concluded that software-dependent electronic voting machines "are not viable for future voting systems" and "in practical terms cannot be made secure."

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