Berkeley's Measure R Could Be Back In The Ballots

July 12, 2007

, ABC7 KGO-TV (San Francisco)

A 2004 Berkeley ballot measure may be re-appearing on their 2008 ballot, that's according to an Alameda County superior court judge who found there was no way to accurately re-count votes because the registrar's office didn't back-up electronic data properly. Could it happen again?

An East Bay vote could be going back on the ballot, after elections officials mishandled the electronic voting information.

Several Berkeley residents and the Americans for safe access group challenged Alameda County to re-count votes from the 2004 election for Measure R, the medical marijuana initiative lost by less than 200 votes.

Gregory Luke, Attorney for Berkeley Voters: "Now after two and a half years of fighting we've learned they didn't take the minimal measures to preserve this data while this lawsuit was pending."

A superior court judge has tentatively ruled that she will nullify the Measure R vote because the alameda county registrar's office didn't provide or save data from the electronic voting machines used in the 2004 election.

Those Diebold touch screen machines were shipped back to the manufacturer in Texas after California passed a state law requiring all touch screen machines to have a paper trail.

Last month, officials traveled to Texas to examine the old Diebold touch screens, but out of 482 machines, only 20 still contained data from the 2004 election.

With no way to re-count the vote, the judge indicated measure r will be put back on the ballot.

Zach Cowan, Berkeley City Attorney.: "The next general election in Berkeley is November 2008. The courts tentative ruling is it would go onto the next general election and that's when it would be. "

Rebecca Saltzman, Americans for Safe Access: "Our preference is the election data would have been forthcoming and we could have found out the will of the Berkeley voters. But that's not possible so this is the next best option. "

With current state law requiring a paper trail, all bay area counties now rely on either paper ballots or electronic machines that produce a paper trail.

ABC7's Leslie Brinkley: "So what happened in 2004 couldn't happen again?

Dave MacDonald, Alameda County Registrar: It couldn't. When you go to vote in the polls now, you'll be handed a paper ballot and those are retained. If we ever do a recount, that would be done using a paper-based system. "

Electronic voting still requires paper it seems.

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