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May  12

The Voting Machines That Don't Add Up

Li704385_1Here’s the good news: Essex County finally has all of the electronic voting machines it needs for upcoming elections in June.
Now for the bad: According to some outraged Montclairians, and Blue Jersey, a self described progressive source of news, political analysis and activism, the county got ripped-off, BIG TIME. They say the machines are a total waste of money and about as up to date as a 1980s Lincoln.

The new machines, about 700 of them, cost around $8,000 a piece. They're supplied by Sequoia Voting Systems, which provides machines to most of the state’s 21 counties. This week the county had to fork over almost $60,000 more on what they've already paid. Sequoia says that's the cost to get the machines ready for the election and to train election board workers.

From the Local Source.com:

Citizens and freeholders alike were not pleased about approving additional funding for Sequoia, which had already failed to meet the obligations of its original contract by not delivering the machines on time.
Previously, the board had discussed the potential of filing suit against Sequoia for failure to deliver the machines in a timely manner, and subjecting the county to possible state and federal infractions.
"This board shouldn't go five cents more contractually then it has already gone with the company," Freeholder Carol Clark said.

The county’s contract with the vendor has been nothing but contentious since it was first considered almost a year ago.

Local residents banded together in protest of the contract, citing the electronic machine’s susceptibility to tampering, and the lack of a voter-verified paper trail.

However, according to Montclair resident Richard Insley, who spoke at the May 3 meeting, the Sequoia machines are not compliant with the federal law, and are the most expensive option available to the county.  Frances Martin, also of Montclair, came equipped with a copy of Monmouth County’s contract with Sequoia, which demonstrated some cost discrepancies.

From Blue Jersey:

All of the information provided to Freeholders and the Election Superintendent in Essex pointed to a number of important facts about these new machines:
- they are not new at all, but rather use 1980s-era processing technology;
- they are among the most costly voting systems out there;
- they fail to provide for the private, independent vote for disabled citizens that Help America Vote Act (HAVA) dollars were allocated to ensure in the first place;
- they fail to comply with numerous federal voting systems guidelines, including being certified to the    2002 standard (1990 standard is the best Sequoia can do);
- computer scientists predicted as a consequence of the antiquated technology, Advantages would not be able to be retrofitted to comply with state law mandating a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) by the deadline of 1/1/2008 (an opinion affirmed in Mercer Superior Court last month), and if and when possible, the cost will exceed the already-exorbitant price of $2,000 per machine for what amounts to the addition of a printer...

Hey, at least it's better than this, right?

May 12, 2006 in Controversy | Permalink


Out of curiosity, I went to Blue New Jersey's web site, and what do I see there but a quote praising it from our old exemplar of sneaky, Corzined callowness, Matt Stoller! (The guy who never deigned to explain how the Governor's health care plan, of which we haven't heard much the last several months, would work.) Are all these people linked? Kind of like the Jukes and the Kallikaks?

But I like 80's vintage Lincolns. They have trunks so big, you could stuff 2 whacked guys in them and still have room for the shovels with which to bury them.

Posted by: cathar | May 12, 2006 9:15:11 AM

Wow. A vintage Lincoln Town Car with the Automatic Starter and the six-Soprano trunk. Cool.

Posted by: Conan the Grammarian | May 12, 2006 9:15:52 AM

Considering that our current machines are the '36 Packard model, an 80's sedan might be an improvement.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 12, 2006 9:17:28 AM

Beat me by 42 seconds Cathar. And I thought you were losing a step ... :)

Posted by: Conan the Grammarian | May 12, 2006 9:17:43 AM

My BF would love that car!

Posted by: Miss Martta, Smiter Extraordinaire | May 12, 2006 9:21:22 AM

Okay, if the Sequoia machines are not "federally compliant", why are they already installed in most of the state's 21 counties? And can someone shed light on other vendor options, and which one would get the "Consumer Reports" recommendation?

Posted by: Jim | May 12, 2006 9:24:01 AM

"Out of curiosity, I went to Blue New Jersey's web site, and what do I see there but a quote praising it from our old exemplar of sneaky, Corzined callowness, Matt Stoller!"

Where is this quote? I went to that web page too & I don't see it.

OTOH, I'm sure you'll enjoy the the website run by "Steve Adubato, Ph.D." (link in the column on the right side of the BJ page under "NJ Reporter/Analyst Blogs").

Posted by: crank | May 12, 2006 9:29:37 AM

they are not new at all, but rather use 1980s-era processing technology

So intead we should continue to use pre-1950's-era voting booths and finance their legacy maintenance costs?

An upgrade is an upgrade. This seems better that those 'ol lever machines, and there will be no "perfect" solution that is devoid of error or complication or cost.

Posted by: Jim | May 12, 2006 9:39:19 AM

'vote early and often'

Posted by: Iceman | May 12, 2006 9:43:57 AM

It's right at the top of the "What they're saying about us" section, crank. But it doesn't identify Matt Stoller as a Corzine paid loyalist.

Adubato has a Ph.D.? I didn't know that. How he's built a career in NJ stating the obvious over and over I'll never quite understand. I suppose we should be happy he only lasted a term or two in the Assembly. I always think of him as a sort of first cousin to Geraldo, but without that guy's occasional self-deprecation.

Posted by: cathar | May 12, 2006 9:44:06 AM

I thought you meant that Stoller was praising the voting machine deal. Ah well, no mor etime this morn.

Posted by: crank | May 12, 2006 9:51:02 AM

The bottom line is what was actually agreed in the contract? If Montclair officials agreed to what they got then it is at them we need to direct our disgust. If the contract states up to date and leagal voting machines then we should be going after Sequioa. How we find that out...I have no idea.

Posted by: D | May 12, 2006 9:51:29 AM

Crank -- Full disclosure, I post on Blue Jersey. Just want to ask you, why would the site identify Matt Stoller as a "Corzine paid loyalist" when Stoller doesn't work for Corzine anymore, and hasn't for seven months?

Posted by: huntsu | May 12, 2006 10:05:22 AM

Perhaps because as a member of the Corzine campaign he *helped* to enact Corzine's agenda. So any further comment by him in defense of Corzine might be more easily judged and weighed by the reader.

Let's say someone who wrote letter in defense of Sequoia voting machines to the local paper had worked at the company in the recent past and helped to design the machine. That fact would be very valuable information to the reader.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 12, 2006 10:12:00 AM

Matt Stoller's limited form of "fame," huntsu, is totally attributable to his service to the Governor. Indeed, who'd care about Stoller for anything else, especially since he appeared on this very site in his guise as Corzine's paid blogger? What else distinguishes the lad in terms of statewide accomplishment? (Even if he's moved on to tout other candidates in other states, which might well be the case - a peculiarly modern "occupation," this one.) It was thus interesting that Blue NJ ran an eager beaver sort of quote from him. Suggesting to me, then, that the universe in which you and he post is a rather small, maybe even vapidly self-congratulatory one.

And t'was I who id'ed him as such, not crank. Got to pay attention there.

Posted by: cathar | May 12, 2006 10:14:48 AM

Its friggen Blue NJ. What the heck do you expect? If you can't take the debate, get off the internet.

Posted by: lasermike026 | May 12, 2006 10:24:58 AM


Posted by: lasermike026 | May 12, 2006 10:32:39 AM

Take two...

Posted by: lasermike026 | May 12, 2006 10:33:05 AM

Two more: Palm Beach!

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 12, 2006 10:35:01 AM

What about it?

Posted by: lasermike026 | May 12, 2006 10:38:49 AM

"wader, der is too much papper in my paprikash"

Posted by: State Street Pete | May 12, 2006 10:41:21 AM

They have *really* nice beaches there lasermike026, really nice, you should go sometime...


Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 12, 2006 10:43:25 AM

So, shall we start again?

Posted by: lasermike026 | May 12, 2006 10:50:03 AM


Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 12, 2006 10:51:54 AM

If you can't take the debate, lasermikey, do what you usually do. Toss around wild charges. Or incoherent ravings.

Posted by: cathar | May 12, 2006 10:53:10 AM

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