A US judge has rejected a bid from a bid from an election candidate to examine the source code of electronic voting machines alleged to have miscounted votes in November's election.
Judge William Gary of Florida's Second Judicial Circuit rejected the request by Christine Jennings, a Democratic party candidate in the US Congress elections, saying the source code for the Election Systems & Software (ES&S) e-voting machines used in the election is a trade secret.
Jennings, who lost the election in her constituency by 369 votes, has sued voting officials in Sarasota County, Florida, over discrepancies in the way votes were recorded.
More than 18,000 people who cast votes in other elections, held simultaneously with the Congress vote, failed to have votes recorded in the congressional race. For example, about 4,000 more votes were recorded in elections to the county's Southern District hospital board than in the Congress race.
Jennings and district voters who brought the lawsuit want access to trade secrets "based on nothing more than speculation and conjecture", Judge Gary ruled. Allowing the plaintiffs access to the source code "would result in destroying or at least gutting the protections afforded those who own trade secrets", the judge wrote.
On her website, Jennings, said she would appeal against the ruling. "It's shocking that there is more concern for protecting a company's profits rather than protecting our right to vote," she said. "The secrecy and question marks surrounding electronic voting is creating a real crisis in confidence among America's voters, and the only way to resolve this is by conducting a thorough review by outside experts."
Jennings' opponent, Republican Vern Buchanan, will be seated in the US House of Representatives while Jennings continues to seek a revote in the election.
An ES&S representative was not available for comment.