Holder v. McPherson

In March 2006, a group of 24 California voters, including Dolores Huerta, social justice activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, filed a lawsuit in California state court against then-Secretary of State Bruce McPherson and various county registrars to halt the use or purchase of the Diebold TSx electronic voting system.  The lawsuit alleged that the Diebold TSx voting machines did not meet requirements of California law with regard to security from tampering and vote manipulation, accessibility to voters with certain disabilities, and auditability, and that the machines were unsuitable and unsafe for use in California elections. 

Status of Case

In August 2007, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their case following California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s August 3, 2007 decision to decertify the Diebold system and to only allow limited use of that system under strict manual recount conditions.  The voter plaintiffs said that Secretary Bowen’s action constituted a vindication of the concerns raised in their lawsuit concerning vulnerabilities and inadequacies of the Diebold machines, and that Secretary Bowen’s actions answered nearly all of the concerns outlined in their original complaint filed last year.

 In Voter Action’s August 29, 2007 press release announcing the withdrawal of this case, Charles Fox, a voter plaintiff, stated: “Secretary Bowen should be commended for moving the state of California and the nation in the right direction on this critical question facing the security of our elections today.  While the machines currently employed for the stated purpose of greater accessibility fall far short of providing the required accessibility under federal law for voters with disabilities, we look forward to working with the Secretary of State's office in the ongoing effort to ensure meaningful access for all of California's voters."

Attorneys John Eichhorst, Michael Gallo, Jason Takenouchi, and D’Lonra Ellis from the law firm of Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco served as counsel for the plaintiffs in the case.  The lawsuit was filed with the support of Voter Action.  Voter Action’s co-founder, Lowell Finley, served as co-counsel for the plaintiffs until January 2007, when he assumed the position of Deputy Secretary of State for Voting Systems Technology and Policy in the California Secretary of State’s Office.

Case Documents and Literature