Riverside RoV Concedes, DREs Are on the Way Out

Riverside County Board of Supervisors

September 29, 2009

(Partial transcript of board meeting)

             Re: November 2008 Election and Electronic Voting – Item 3.66

 Supervisor Buster: It [decertification] was a big blow to many of us who invested in this [$30+ million for e-voting machines] and I think to the public to see most of the use snatched away from us now. And as I pointed out to her now, somewhat inconsistently, if the touchscreens are so potentially dangerous or so potentially unreliable then why is it that the Secretary of State continues to allow one, one per voting place resulting in our 72,000 voters using it as a matter of fact. And then having to do the extra manual tally with all its extra costs and then not getting reimbursed for that. It seems to me there’s a big gulf between the county voters here a growing proportion of them and the representation they are getting from our Secretary of State. She should have come down here and talked to us before she rescinded the use of these machines. And she should be more responsive to the numerous voters, the thousands of them who want to use these machines and she should be explaining to us what now can we do with these thousands of machines that are sitting on the shelf. Shouldn’t we be using those as voters demand and ask for them as evidenced by those 72,000 people crowded in at the one sole machine they were allowed to use? Shouldn’t we try to rework the old system in whatever fashion so we can satisfy this voters’ urge?

 ”…and they continue to be used because the voters choose them in large numbers here in Riverside County. So I think we ought to extend an invitation to Secretary Bowen to come to the county, particularly around election time or during the election and get an idea of what are issues are regarding the continued use of our touchscreen machines, if only to reimburse us for the extra cost of the manual tally.

 ROV Dunmore: “…so the further contradiction is you can only have one per polling place but you can have an unlimited amount at early voting sites. And that early voting program is what really cost the county the majority of the $400,000. In May we did not have early voting sites and I believe that our tally, of course it was a lower turnout, was about $29,000 for which we billed Sequoia also and have not received any payment. But it’s getting more difficult in the arena of electronic voting, and if I may expand for just a moment, what we do for early voting is that we cut up the receipts so we can do a stack and sort method. All these are for one candidate, all these are for another candidate, and then we can count them. New recount regulations that are set to go into effect very soon do not allow us to cut up the tapes anymore. That we have to keep them on a single roll, which will make the 100% manual tally of any early voting unit take much longer than it did in November. I brought this up with the Chief Deputy Secretary of State Evan Goldberg and he said well I’ll make a note of that but it ended up in the recount regulations in any event. So it is getting more difficult for us to use electronic voting in an early voting venue.

Riverside Election Timeline

 Supervisor Buster: Sometimes you have to balance these risks that experts may correctly conclude you face with the public’s desire to try to come up with some kind of a compromise on these machines and that’s what I don’t see occurring here and that disturbs me. Particularly when we’re going to other countries and we’re trying to encourage democracy there and encourage people to vote – it seems to me uh, uh, it’s a real sore spot with me that these machines were I think were peremptorily jerked and banned almost totally from our county, and then, and then to keep our interest whetted in the issue, doled out one of them completely inconsistent too with their scientific findings of a high risk involved. So it doesn’t – what the actual results of the state actions by the Secretary of State’s office don’t make sense from any standpoint if you want to look at them.”

 Chairman Stone: “…What is Sequoia doing as our vendor to adapt their software to the mitigation measures the Secretary of State would like to see implemented in software so we can begin using these machines again? Are they actively engaged with the Secretary of State, are they actively engaged in modifying the software so that we can begin utilizing these machines again?”

ROV Dunmore: “Well the trend of the industry seems to be moving away from electronic voting. I was at the nationwide conference in San Diego in July or August and they have all the vendors out there ES&S, Premier, Sequoia, there’s one other one that is escaping me, Dominion voting was there and they are all moving to precinct-based scan counters similar to what Sequoia now has on the market which is the Insight where you vote your paper ballot, you slide it into a slot, and it counts the marks on that right there, and they are recorded onto a cartridge, similar to our DREs, and the cartridge is brought back to our office and counted, uh, processed.

Now, the twist that the industry is going in right now is that all the new precinct-based optical scanners are taking a picture of the ballot. So not only do you have the ballot, but now it’s taking a picture of the ballot and you have the cartridge and that is Sequoia’s new product, how Dominion Voting is coming at it, and also Premier. And so I think that they have saturated the market with electronic voting units, um, there is no more market for them. I talked with Jack Blain, the president of Sequoia at that particular conference – he was trying to sell me on their new product which is this precinct optical scanner that takes a picture. I said well how much will you give me for my DREs if I take this to my board? He said well there’s not much of a market for those these days. So, so, um, I hope that answers your question. I don’t not believe they have anything in Federal testing at this point to um remedy the software that is currently on them and I believe it’s because across the nation the doors are really being shut toward electronic voting. It’s not – to go through the certification process is a very very expensive process

Chairman Stone: But they’re already certified by the Federal government. Has the Federal government expressed the issues the Secretary of State has with respect to Sequoia software?

ROV Dunmore: Uh, with regards to that, our Secretary of State requires that they go through the federal testing and get a federal cert number before she will even test it here. Any issues that were brought up at the federal level, and I’d have to go research those, if there were any, have been remedied and they were given a cert number for the current software that we’re using. But they don’t have anything, I don’t believe, in the testing at the federal level right now. Again, it’s very expensive and if there’s not a market for it they’re likely not willing to invest in putting that forward.

Chairman Stone: “—the federal government didn’t have any issues with the integrity of the Sequoia voting system, otherwise they would not have given a certification for it. So here we have one person in the state of California that stands in the way of comprehensive, accurate voting devices that have never had any legal challenges that have resulted in a fraud. We’ve had machines that have cut costs, expedited results to the electorate so they can see the results of elections, so because of ONE PERSON we are withheld from using these machines that are federally certified. So, if we have a new Secretary of State, and I believe she’s up for reelection at this time, those machines could be recertified by a new Secretary of State, and we could utilize those machines without any problems, is that correct?”

ROV Dunmore: Yes

Chairman Stone: Thank you Barbara.

 

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