According to documents received, newly certified Ballot Marking Devices (BMD) failed to perform in local tests in New York City, and in Nassau County. After meeting with the New York County Election Commissioners Assn., SBOE Co-Executive Director, Todd Valentine, described the scene after certified software failed to perform:
"There's a lot of high anxiety going on ... not only at our agency with dealing with these issues, but at the county level, as well."
Valentine's comments also relate to state and county anxiety over the necessary training election workers must receive.
Only 15% of state-certified BMDs arrived in working condition in Nassau County. One-fifth of them were physically damaged; at over $11,000 each,2 the frailty of such systems cannot be ignored. Fully two-thirds of Sequoia's BMDs failed local diagnostic and acceptance testing. On June 26th, Nassau County Attorney Lori Barrett wrote to Judge Sharpe:
"The SBOE's acceptance testing has proven to be completely unreliable. Fully 85% of the 156 BMDs received by Nassau through June 26, 2008 – after the SBOE acceptance tested them in Albany – have substantial operational flaws that render them unusable or that require major repairs.
· 29 were rejected immediately when they were unloaded from the truck because of obvious physical defects or damages....
· 62 failed diagnostic testing because of problems with the USB cord and the printer.
· And 42 failed Nassau's acceptance testing for a variety of reasons, such as non-responsive key pads and battery failure.
"Out of a total of 156 BMDs, only 23 can be used by voters in the condition they were received...."
Barrett points out that "Nassau County is not the only municipality affected by the SBOE's unreliable testing." She explains:
Problems in a software driven voting system that is certified as safe and functional? Say it ain't so.
"At a hearing of the New York City Government Services Committee on June 23, 2008, the New York City Board of Elections testified that the state's certification process failed to catch software flaws that resulted in problems when a voter attempted to write in a candidate and that failed to rotate candidates' names in primary elections in compliance with the Election Law. Due in part to these problems, New York City has not received BMDs and cannot begin training pollworkers."
Hidden Costs of Software Systems
Absorbing additional unexpected costs, Barrett continues in her letter to the SBOE:
"Moreover, the SBOE and Sequoia negotiated a fee of $250 per BMD for shipment from Albany to Nassau County after the SBOE's acceptance testing at a total cost of $112,250. The SBOE insisted on imposing this cost on Nassau County even though Sequoia was willing to make minor adjustments in its manufacturing process so that the BMDs could be acceptance tested on Long Island, thereby substantially reducing the shipping costs. (A substantial portion of the BMD parts are manufactured by Sequoia on Long Island.)
"Nassau County made numerous requests to the SBOE to test the BMDs in Nassau County, and we understand that Suffolk County and New York City made similar requests for local testing. The SBOE, however, has refused or failed to act on these requests and taken no meaningful steps to address the problem."
Dutchess County is paying an additional $56,250 for the delivery, storage and overhead costs (security and climate-controlled environment) for its BMDs, reported the Poughkeepsie Journal.