Trial Ends in Challenge by Rutgers Law School’s Constitutional Litigation Clinic to Insecure Electronic Voting Machines

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Newark, NJ – The trial in Gusciora v. Corzine, a case in which the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers School of Law–Newark challenged New Jersey’s use of insecure digital voting machines, has concluded after 15 weeks. After receiving post-trial briefs from both sides, Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg is expected to hand down a ruling by the end of 2009. The Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action is the main plaintiff.

At the trial Clinical Professor Penny Venetis, co-director of the Rutgers clinic, argued that the AVC Advantage voting machines, manufactured by Sequoia Voting Systems, are vulnerable to physical and digital attacks that could compromise elections. New Jersey currently uses 11,000 of the Sequoia machines. Expert witnesses in the case demonstrated multiple hacks of the machines’ source code and user interface, attacks on the machines’ circuitry, and methods for circumventing New Jersey’s proposed physical security measures. Professor Andrew Appel from Princeton University’s Computer Science Department, Dr. Roger Johnston of Argonne National Laboratory, and Professor Wayne Wolf of Georgia Institute of Technology testified that vote-stealing software could be installed by attackers without specialized training or expensive equipment.

The trial was the culmination of a five-year effort by Professor Venetis and her students in the Constitutional Litigation Clinic to improve election security in New Jersey. The Division of Elections missed multiple deadlines set by the State Legislature for redressing security flaws. Rutgers’ litigation efforts, supported by the Newark office of law firm Patton Boggs LLP, have so far resulted in the addition of a paper record system for the Sequoia machines.

Initially the machines provided no backup method for verifying election returns. The state has proposed numerous tamper-indicating seals in an attempt to bolster the machines’ physical security. All of the seals were introduced during the litigation and all, Professor Venetis points out, were defeated by Dr. Johnston.

The plaintiffs in the case are Assemblyman Reed Gusciora of the 15th District, the Coalition for Peace Action, New Jersey Peace Action, and Stephanie Harris, who attempted to vote on a Sequoia Advantage voting machine in 2004, but received no indication that her vote was recorded after multiple attempts.

Media Contact: Janet Donohue