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Voter Verified v. Election Systems & Software

Representative Claim

  1. A method for voting providing for self-verification of a ballot comprising the steps of:
    (a) voting by a voter using a computer voting station programmed to present an election ballot,
    accept input of votes from the voter according to the election ballot,
    temporarily store the votes of the voter;
    (b) printing of the votes of the voter from the votes temporarily stored in the computer for the voting station;
    (c) comparison by the voter of the printed votes with the votes temporarily stored in the computer for the voting station;
    (d) decision by the voter as to whether a printed ballot is acceptable or unacceptable; and
    (e) submission of an acceptable printed ballot for tabulation.
  1. A self-verifying voting system comprising:
    one or more voting stations comprising:
    (a) one or more computer programs which operate in a computer to display general voting instructions, at least one election ballot showing the candidates and/or issues to be voted on, and directions to the voter for operation of the system;
    present the election ballot for voting and input of votes by the voter;
    accept input of the votes from the voter;
    print out the election ballot according to which the voter voted with the votes of the voter printed thereon, so that the votes of the voter are readable on said election ballot by the voter and readable by a ballot scanning machine; and
    record the votes in the computer;
    (b) at least one computer with at least one display device, at least one device to accept voting input from a voter, and sufficient memory to provide for the operation of said computer program;
    (c) a printer connected to said computer for printing the election according to which the voter voted;
    (d) a ballot scanning machine for reading the votes on the printed ballot printed according to the election ballot which the voter voted and
    a means for tabulating the printed ballots generated by said one or more voting stations.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida in No. 1:16-cv-00267-MWGRJ

Abstract Idea: Yes

The Federal Circuit agreed with the District Court that the claims constitute an abstract idea because they describe steps humans have performed for hundreds of years—voting, verification, and tabulation.

In explanation, the opinion states:

“Even Voter Verified characterized these steps as ‘human cognitive actions.’ Appellant’s Br. 11. These steps are therefore nothing more than abstract ideas. Cf. CyberSource Corp. v. Retail Decisions, Inc., 654 F.3d 1366, 1373 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (‘[M]ethods which can be performed entirely in the human mind are the types of methods that embody the ‘basic tools of scientific and technological work’ that are free to all men and reserved exclusively to none.’ (quoting Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63, 67 253 (1972)).”

Something More: No

The Federal Circuit also agreed with the District Court’s Step Two determination that “there is no inventive concept in the claims sufficient to transform them into patent-eligible subject matter.”  In the Federal Circuit’s view, the claims on appeal merely called for “general purpose computers that carry out the abstract idea.”  In summary:

“Because all of the remaining claims only recite different variations of the same abstract idea being performed with other generic computer components, we therefore conclude that the district court properly determined that the claims of the ‘449 patent are invalid under § 101.”