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Heindel v. Andino (Amicus Brief)

In a case challenging South Carolina’s use of the paperless iVotronic Direct Recording Electronic (“DRE”) system, the Brennan Center filed an amicus brief explaining the current threat to election infrastructure.

Published: April 16, 2019

On July 10, 2018, Protect Democracy sued South Carolina elections officials on behalf of plaintiffs Frank Heindel and Phil Leventis, alleging that “the capacity of [South Carolina]'s election system to record and count votes reliably is deeply compromised by the state’s” voting system. South Carolina uses the paperless iVotronic Direct Recording Electronic (“DRE”) system, which is highly vulnerable to cyberattack and is entirely digital, providing no way to conduct a meaningful audit or recount.

Protect Democracy argued that South Carolina’s use of a DRE system violates plaintiffs’ constitutional right to vote because the state has failed to provide an elections system that has basic safeguards to ensure that the plaintiffs’ votes are reliably and accurately counted. Plaintiffs lost a motion to dismiss in the federal district court on the basis of standing. The District Court dismissed the case because, according to the Court, the risk of future harm to voters is too speculative and not fairly traceable to the South Carolina State Election Commission. Plaintiffs have appealed the dismissal of their case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The Brennan Center and Troutman Sanders LLP filed an amicus brief (on behalf of 13 current and former election officials in 10 states) on April 15, 2019 arguing that the District Court erred in finding that Plaintiffs’ alleged injury is overly “speculative” and not “fairly traceable” to Defendants. In the brief, we explain the current threat to election infrastructure and argue that Defendants are responsible for maintenance of the state’s election system and that they have failed to take the most basic remedial step to prevent and recover from efforts to interfere with our elections—implementing a more secure system that includes a paper trail.

The Brennan Center is a non-profit, nonpartisan public policy and law institute that seeks to secure our nation’s promise of “equal justice for all” by creating a rational, effective, and fair criminal justice system. The Brennan Center advocates for reshaping laws and public policies that undermine this vision.

For more, read the amicus brief here.