A California judge is likely to order a Berkeley city initiative back on the ballot because of local officials’ mishandling of electronic voting machine data, a public-interest lawyer arguing the case said Friday.
In a preliminary ruling Thursday, Judge Winifred Smith of the Alameda County Superior Court indicated she would nullify the defeat of a medical marijuana proposal in Berkeley in 2004 and order the measure put back on the ballot in a later election. A hearing on Friday morning in advance of a final ruling brought out nothing that indicated Smith would deviate from her preliminary decision, said attorney Gregory Luke, who is representing Americans for Safe Access. The medical-marijuana advocacy group is suing the county, assisted by the technology rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The case points to the dangers of electronic voting systems, which make it harder to ensure fair elections, Luke said. Electronic voting machines have been widely adopted in the U.S. since the disputed presidential election of 2000. Laws in California and some other states now require paper records of all votes, but the California law wasn’t in place for the Berkeley election.