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Citizens’ Groups and Computer Experts Join NJ Election Administrator’s and Congressman’s Call PDF  | Print |  Email
By VoterAction   
March 07, 2008
Troubled by newspaper reports of incorrect ballot counts from electronic voting machines, election integrity groups and computer scientists are calling on New Jersey’s Attorney General, Anne Milgram, to impound the malfunctioning voting systems and commission an independent examination of the machines and software. The computer experts’ and civic groups’ appeal came the same day as a similar request from the Mercer County Clerk to the New Jersey Superintendent of Elections, Bettye Monroe. Congressman Rush Holt (NJ-12) quickly voiced support for Mercer County’s request. 

“This incident appears to have been caused by a serious software error in the Sequoia Advantage machines,” said Dr. David Jefferson, a voting machine and computer expert from Lawrence Livermore Laboratories and former member of the California Secretary of State’s Task Force on Touchscreen Voting. “If the Sequoia software cannot count ballots correctly, what confidence can we have that it counts votes correctly, especially when they have no voter-verified paper trail and thus no possibility of an independent audit of the results?”
 
Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. examined the machines and attributed the problem to poll worker error. Election officials and computer experts have questioned Sequoia’s findings. Citing Sequoia’s pending sales contracts for add-on printers to the currently paperless machines and on-going license fees, critics have pointed to a conflict of interest. “It’s a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house,” said John Bonifaz, legal director for VoterAction.org. “Sequoia could lose tens of millions of dollars in printer sales and revolving fees if the counties were to decide to stop using their machines. There is a clear financial disincentive for them to expose any serious problems.” 

“Only an independent technical investigation of the machines and their software, starting with the source code, can reliably determine exactly what happened, whether this is a symptom of a larger software problem, and whether other states may be affected as well,” said Dr. Jefferson. The Sequoia Advantage will be used in Montgomery and Northampton Counties in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary.
 
“It’s time for the Attorney General to confront the long, drawn out problem of New Jersey’s voting machines and take positive action. These machines need a full top to bottom examination by an independent authority immediately,” noted Renee Steinhagen, director of New Jersey Appleseed.
 
“The State has acknowledged numerous times that the software of these machines has never been tested,” said Rutgers University Law Professor, Penny Venetis, who is representing New Jersey voters in lawsuit to prohibit the use of these machines. “New Jersey could play a decisive role in the November general election. It is imperative that the Attorney General resolve this matter expeditiously and ensure that all voting systems provide a permanent voter-verified paper record to comply with New Jersey law.”
 
The letters can be found here: http://voteraction.org/resources
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