ACLU Press Release received via email May 18.
On Friday, the Senate may take up and vote on HB 2465 by Representative Denny, a bill that closes the recently opened meetings where the state’s voting machine examiners review
“We had to take the Secretary of State to court to make the agency abide by the Texas Open Meetings Act,” said Will Harrell of the ACLU of Texas. “Now, after a court declared that
citizens do, in fact, have a right to see how the state certifies these machines, the Secretary of State wants the legislature to close the door again.”
The ACLU of Texas and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed suit under the Texas Open Meetings Act last year, and in January a Travis County judge found in favor of public
access. The next meetings to certify voting equipment, scheduled for May 25th and 26th will be held in public.
“If the Senate does not amend this bill, the May meetings may be the first and last time the public can watch the state’s certification meeting process,” said Adina Levin, Project
Director for ACLU’s Cyberliberties Project. “That would be a terrible shame and a disservice to the computer security professionals, polling place volunteers, public interest groups, county administrators and others that have an interest in opening up this process.”
Instead of allowing the public to attend the actual examiners meetings, the bill creates a public forum where members of the public can comment to the agency on voting machines.
“A public forum is fine,” said Harrell, “and we appreciate that the Secretary of State has agreed that there should be public input. But this public forum does not replace the need for
access to the meeting where the examiners look at the systems, question the venders, and deliberate with each other.”
“The process for deciding which electronic voting machines are good enough for Texas is too important to be held behind closed doors,” said Levin. “If the public is watching, the
examiners will do a better job, the vendors will be better prepared, and the Secretary of State will get better advice from both the examiners and from experts in the public who can intelligently comment.”