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THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

Court Revives Lawsuit on Touch-Screen Voting

September 28, 2004|From Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Five weeks before election day, a federal appeals court Monday revived a lawsuit demanding that all Florida voters who use touch-screen machines receive a paper receipt in case a recount becomes necessary.

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals told a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale to reopen the case, which could affect 15 Florida counties whose electronic voting terminals do not issue paper records. It was not immediately clear if the case could be decided before the Nov. 2 presidential election.

The three-judge panel in Atlanta wrote that U.S. District Judge James Cohn misapplied a 35-year legal doctrine when he threw out the lawsuit filed by Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.).

"What's known for certain is we have won the battle in the long term," Wexler said. "There will be a paper trail in Florida. The only question is when."

A spokeswoman for Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood dismissed the decision as procedural. "We have full confidence in the process we have in place," said spokeswoman Alia Faraj.

Wexler says paperless ballots cannot be recounted as accurately as those cast on paper. He sued state election officials, arguing that the Constitution would be violated by a voting system that varied from county to county.

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