updated 7/2/2004 8:17:16 PM ET 2004-07-03T00:17:16

A federal judge in Los Angeles upheld a partial state ban Thursday on electronic voting in the Nov. 2 election, denying a request by advocates for the disabled.

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In a tentative ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper declined to overturn an April 30 order by Secretary of State Kevin Shelley to ban electronic voting in 14 counties. Four counties and advocates for the disabled sought a temporary restraining order to block Shelley’s order.

Riverside County officials sued Shelley in May to regain rights to use their touch screen voting machines. Plumas, San Bernardino and Kern counties later joined the suit.

Cooper ruled that the counties and the disabled weren’t likely to prevail in their arguments of irreparable harm and were “substantially outweighed by the advancement of the public interest.”

Learn how voting systems work, from paper ballots to e-voting.Advocates for the blind said Shelley’s order prevents them from being able to vote by themselves. But Cooper tentatively ruled that potential problems with electronic voting in a presidential election made Shelley’s decision reasonable.

Of 14 counties originally banned from using their machines in November, Shelley has reached agreements with five to again allow their use. Santa Clara, Merced, Orange, Shasta and Tehama counties agreed to new security conditions, including making paper ballots available to those who want to use them.

On April 30, Shelley decertified touch screen voting machines in 10 counties until they meet new conditions to prevent problems that occurred in the March primary. Counties reported software glitches that prevented polls from opening on time, causing people to leave without voting.

Shelley also banned electronic voting — with no option for reconsideration — in San Diego, Solano, San Joaquin and Kern counties in November because their machines weren’t federally approved for the March election.

Counties that must still meet Shelley’s security conditions to use their machines Nov. 2 include Riverside, San Bernardino, Plumas, Napa and Alameda.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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