FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – SEPTEMBER 17, 2007
RIVERSIDE COUNTY SET TO SOLE-SOURCE PURCHASE DECERTIFIED SEQUOIA VOTE SCANNERS
In direct conflict with its own Request for Proposal (RFP) language issued on March 7, 2007, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors is set tomorrow morning (9/18/07) to consider paying $562,800 for six decertified Sequoia 400C Optical Scan Central Count ballot tabulators. This cost includes $84,000 to maintain the machines for two years. The plan includes purchasing Optech paper ballots from Sequoia, without offering any other ballot vendor an opportunity to competitively bid. There are many reasons why this [Agenda Item 3.74] is a blatant waste of taxpayers’ money, including violation of the terms of the RFP issued by the county …
1. The entire Sequoia voting system was decertified on August 3, 2007 by Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Potential recertification is subject to the vendor and the county meeting a series of security measures that the state must approve. No such approval has been issued, thus the county is literally betting over a half million dollars that the machines will be re-certified in time for the February 2008 Presidential Primary Election. If they are not, they will join the $35 million in equipment the county has already purchased from Sequoia that will be gathering dust in the warehouse after testing showed those machines could be easily tampered with, resulting in unreliable or rigged results.
2. The RFP issued by the county on March 7, 2007 stated in no uncertain terms, “[the equipment must] be unconditionally certified for current use in California by the Secretary of State (Election Code Sections 19201)…The system may not be conditionally, temporarily or other than unconditionally certified.”
3. The new agreement requires that Sequoia reimburse the county only in the event that the 400C scanners don’t meet new 2005 Federal Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. There is no date specified by when the 400Cs would have to meet these standards. And since any equipment, such as the 400Cs that already meet 2002 federal standards are “grandfathered-in”, there will never come a time that the 400Cs will have to meet 2005 federal standards, thus providing a meaningless and unenforceable reimbursement clause. Bottom line – the county will be left holding the bag with these half-million dollar machines just as they have with the $35 million in DREs they forced upon the voters.
4. The county has sixteen (16) DFM Mark-A-Vote scanners they have used for over 20 years to scan and count absentee and paper ballots. While old, there are enough of them to get through the light February 2008 primary election, thus avoiding betting on currently decertified equipment. And because the ballots will contain so few items in February, it would be very feasible to hand-count the ballots, as was done for two hundred years before the introduction of “black box” machines with secret software.
SAVE R VOTE will appear at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting tomorrow to urge a “wait and see” approach rather than gambling yet another half million taxpayers dollars on a company with an abysmal track record.
Contact: Tom Courbat, Executive Director 951-677-6451 or 951-536-6091 or firstname.lastname@example.org