Nassau County is not happy with the SBOE testing these machines in Albany, when Sequoia manufactures the BMDs on Long Island (where Nassau is situated). The state charges $250 in shipping for each BMD delivered from Albany to Nassau, reported Nassau County Attorney Lori Barrett. Biamonte explained on a July 2nd Voice of the Voters radio broadcast that one of the reasons they chose Sequoia was because of its proximity. He would like to see joint testing of the BMDs with the SBOE in Nassau. This would also reduce the exorbitant shipping costs that Nassau County is forced to absorb, amounting to over $110,000.
"We were told when we selected this manufacturer [Sequoia] – one of the reasons we selected them was that they made a major push, both the State Board and the manufacturer, that these machines would be manufactured locally, in Long Island.... Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing? Because they're manufactured, they could be delivered to us, they could be acceptance tested by us, and working with the State, considering any defect problems, or any problems like we just [had]... they would be locally so we could address it locally.
"The State did an about-face; decided that they were going to do centralized acceptance testing.... And the process has been, at best, a disaster, because we have almost 80% failure of machines being delivered. These are the same machines that the State has passed. They've certified that these machines passed their acceptance testing.... We've been pressing all along that we really need to do local acceptance testing...."
NYSTEC concluded otherwise, advising in its July 10th report:
"One of the big advantages of centralized testing is that a large number of people are testing systems over time. As a result, discovery of issues and identifying resolutions occurs faster than it would if acceptance testing were being done at individual county locations. Testers get more experienced and discover shortcuts and other information that individual counties can reap the benefit from."
Centralized testing creates additional costs that budget-strapped counties are expected to absorb. Biamonte is furious over the $111,000 additional shipping costs Nassau is forced to absorb. In a phone call today, he explained that one of their people, Donald Steiner, has been in the freight business for over 25 years. "We're paying six to eight times the going rate to have these BMDs shipped from Albany."
Last night, NY SBOE Commissioner Douglas Kellner responded to one of several questions posed, regarding these shipping fees.
"The shipping fee was part of the bid submitted by each vendor and should have been factored in when the counties selected their voting system.
"The counties have the option of shipping the machines from the Albany acceptance test site themselves, but the counties are then responsible for any damage that might occur after receiving delivery of the machines in Albany. Several counties in the capital area did choose to arrange for their own delivery from Albany."
In a phone conversation today, Nassau County attorney Lori Barrett flatly denied that Nassau negotiated this shipment rate with Sequoia. Biamonte backed up Barrett's assertion.
"We had nothing to do with it. The State negotiated the RFPs (Request for Proposals) with the vendors."
Despite the July 10th report fom NYSTEC, which the SBOE ordered, it appears that the high rate of machine failure experienced in Nassau County is not a result of local confusion about how to operate the BMDs, but rather a problem in their design. In the July 9th testing in Nassau, Sequoia discovered a 25% failure rate.
Something's wrong somewhere. If not in the SBOE certification process, then in the choice of frail software driven systems that cannot survive shipment or that are poorly designed.
New York is under a court order to deploy these frail, non-functional systems before the fall elections. Yet, Sequoia is having trouble meeting production demands. There simply are not enough functional machines on the market.
Court orders ought to be based in reality. Judge Gary Sharpe and the Department of Justice seem overly focused on HAVA-compliance, requiring that disabled accessible devices be deployed to every polling site this year. No regard is given to the cost, security, reliability, or functionality of such systems, or that enough even exist to meet the Court's order. (See January 2008 Remedial Order enforcing the SBOE’s timeline.)