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Group Sues To Block Internet Primary

January 21, 2000

PHOENIX (AP) _ A Virginia-based voting group filed a federal lawsuit Friday in an attempt to block Arizona’s Democrats from holding the nation’s Internet presidential primary.

The lawsuit, filed by the Voting Integrity Project, alleges that voting by computer would hurt minorities and the poor.

``A large number of voters, especially minority voters, lack computers or access to the Internet,″ said one of the plaintiffs, Arizona Democrat Olivia Lizarraga-Bussey. ``Our voices will not be heard like others.″

Arizona Democrats are scheduled to hold their presidential primary March 11.

Online voting from personal computers at home, work or elsewhere is planned from 12:01 a.m. March 7 until 11:59 p.m. March 10.

Traditional paper ballots and computer terminals will be available at each of the 50 polling places statewide.

Deborah Phillips, president of the Voting Integrity Project, said people who don’t have access to a personal computer may have to travel long distances to vote because so few polling places will be available.

Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Mark Fleisher said he has worked with minority legislators and the state’s Indian tribes regarding polling place locations to make sure those groups can participate. Fleisher said the party will fight the lawsuit.

Party and computer industry officials have said that this would be the nation’s first binding election for public office to be conducted over the Internet.

Democratic officials have said that online voting could increase voter participation and reduce costs.

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