The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected a challenge to Tennessee’s electronic voting machines on Friday.
The plaintiffs, Shelby Advocates for Valid Elections (SAVE) and four Tennessee voters, claimed that the equipment and voting procedures used in some Tennessee counties are vulnerable to hacking and misappropriation. Additionally, the claim stated that the electronic voting machines did not produce paper records making them difficult to audit and that the poll attendants are not trained properly, and that the machines “flip,” or incorrectly indicate votes. Some plaintiffs who intend to run for elected office claimed this will increase their costs for campaigning and monitoring the results. Plaintiffs were seeking an injunction requiring the county to buy election equipment and preventing the use of the current machines.
In an unsigned opinion, the Sixth Circuit rejected these claims. The court stated that the plaintiffs” theories shared:
at a minimum, an imminence problem. The complaint’s allegations with respect to injury all boil down to prior system vulnerabilities, previous equipment malfunctions, and past elections mistakes. Past may be precedent. But the Supreme Court has not been sympathetic to claims that past occurrences of unlawful conduct create standing to obtain an injunction against the risk of future unlawful conduct.
The court stated that the alleged harms stem from “human error rather than errors caused by the voting machines or hacking” and does not create an imminent risk of harm.
In addition to finding that the claim stated no imminent harm, the court found that the plaintiff, an association, lacked standing. The court stated that “plaintiffs may not bootstrap their way into standing by ‘inflicting harm on themselves based on their fears of a hypothetical future harm.'”
In sum, the circuit court unanimously dispensed of the plaintiffs’ complaint, affirming the district court’s decision, and stating that the case could not be decided on fear of future harm and that the plaintiffs lacked standing.