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The more than 16,000 machines used in Maryland "are uniquely insecure and vulnerable to outside attack," Laura Thoms, attorney for TrueVoteMD, said at the opening day of a hearing in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

But Assistant Attorney General Michael D. Berman said the potential problems cited in the suit are based on "theoretical security vulnerabilities" that have not materialized in previous elections, including the March primary. "The greatest threat to a secure election is an eleventh-hour change," he said.

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TrueVoteMD is asking that the state be ordered to equip machines with printers that would make a paper copy of each ballot and that election officials be required to prove that they have corrected security flaws cited in two studies conducted for the state.

THE DISTRICT

ACLU Joins Fight for Slots Initiative

The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will join backers of a plan to legalize slot machine gambling in arguing that the D.C. elections board violated the First Amendment right to free speech when it banned the slots initiative from the Nov. 2 ballot.

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics earlier this month threw out thousands of signatures collected during a petition drive in support of the slots initiative. The board, in part, found that circulators were trained to misrepresent the gambling initiative as a harbinger of jobs and of revenue for public schools and health care.

Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU of the National Capital Area, said that decision flies in the face of the Constitution.

"The idea that the board of elections has the power to regulate political speech between citizens on the street and disqualify signatures because they think the speech was inaccurate is an astonishing assertion," Spitzer said yesterday.

"Political speech has never been held and cannot be held under the First Amendment to the same kind of standards as, for example, a stock prospectus. There has to be room for exaggeration. That's what political speech is all about."

Spitzer said he plans to file a brief tomorrow before the D.C. Court of Appeals, which is considering a request by slots supporters to overturn the elections board ruling. The court has set a hearing for Sept. 8.

Rudolph McGann, a staff attorney for the elections board, declined to comment yesterday on the ACLU's decision to intervene in the case. McGann said the board will lay out its defense of the ruling in a brief that will be filed with the court tomorrow.

Shooting Victim Identified as NW Man

D.C. police identified the man slain early Tuesday in Northwest Washington as 28-year-old Marlon T. Turner.

Turner, of the 700 block of Jefferson Street NW, was fatally shot about 1:30 a.m. in the 800 block of Ingraham Street NW, police said. He died at the scene.

Catholic University Names Treasurer

Catholic University has named a new treasurer and vice president for finance and administration, school officials said.

Julie Englund will succeed Ralph Beaudoin, who retired after 10 years in the job. Englund spent three years at Harvard Law School serving as dean of administration.

She previously served in posts at the Brookings Institution in the District and at Hood College in Frederick.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It's difficult to talk about in the abstract. I mean, everyone is for baseball. Nobody's for robbing the schools and health care to pay for it. But that's not what we're talking about doing. I think we're able to do both."

-- D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), on poll results showing that many city residents oppose a publicly funded ballpark. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Amy Argetsinger, Karlyn Barker, Lori Montgomery, Del Quinton Wilbur, Ylan Q. Mui and Matthew Mosk and the Associated Press.


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