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AtLiberty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-15-06 08:31 PM
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Chicago/Cook County to Start Early Voting with Illegal Sequoia Machines
Illinois: Chicago and Cook County Set To Start Early Voting with Illegal Sequoia Voting Machines

By Illinois Ballot Integrity Project
October 15, 2006

When the earliest of Early Voters in Cook County and Chicago vote Monday morning they will encounter a brand new touch-screen voting machine, the Sequoia AVC Edge II Plus. The "Edge Plus" is so new that its not among those machines certified by the Illinois State Board of Elections for purchase by local election jurisdictions like Chicago and Suburban Cook County.

And thats a problem according to Larry Quick, state chair of the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project. "Electronic voting machine vendors have consistently violated the law by pushing the sale of uncertified voting systems and components throughout Illinois, and local officials have collaborated by signing contracts that are in violation of the Illinois Election Code." Quick added, "The purchase of electronic voting equipment that hasnt been certified as to accuracy, reliability and security represents a clear lack of concern for voting integrity by these election jurisdictions."

"This is the second time the City and County have entered into contracts that called for purchase of touch-screen voting machines that werent certified by the State Board of Elections," said Clare Tobin, chair of IBIPs City of Chicago Chapter. "The initial contracts to purchase the Sequoia AVC Edge were signed in July and August of 2005 and the machines werent approved for use in Illinois until September 19th," she continued. "The original contracts with Sequoia were amended early in 2006 to provide for the purchase of the "Edge Plus" which hasnt yet been approved, and that voting machine will be used for Early Voting on Monday," Tobin explained.

"The language of the statute is clear and unambiguous, No vendor, person, or other entity may sell, lease, or loan, or have a written contract, including a contract contingent upon State Board approval of the voting system or voting system component, to sell, lease, or loan, a Direct Recording Electronic Voting System or system component to any election jurisdiction unless the system or system component is first approved by the State Board of Elections pursuant to this Section," said Bob Wilson, Cook County chair of IBIP, quoting Section 24C-16 of the Illinois Election Code. "The legislative intent is obvious to anyone who can read: no contingent contracts, none," he emphasized.

The Illinois Ballot Integrity Project has closely monitored the certification of electronic voting equipment in Illinois, often appearing before the Board, and has submitted many reports to the Board critical of touch-screen voting machines, highlighting problems in other states and the successful attempts to breach the security of electronic voting machines, such as last months widely-reported hack of the Diebold AccuVote-TS by a group at Princeton University which demonstrated that the machine could be programmed through a memory card to flip votes from one candidate to another. The demonstration video, available at IBIPs website (< > ) shows that the lock to the "secure" memory card slot can be opened with a common office furniture key which is available in hundreds of locations. Researchers even showed that the lock could be picked in about 10 seconds. In all, the memory card substitution which inserts the malicious software to flip an election and leaves a virus to infect other machines, took less than a minute.

IBIP, however, doesnt oppose technology and has even given its conditional endorsement to ballot marking devices such as the AutoMARK used in several counties in Illinois, including Lake County. "The AutoMARK uses touch-screen technology to assist disabled voters to complete a standard paper ballot so that all voters have the opportunity to vote on paper," said David Robin, chair of the IBIP Lake County Chapter. "Its important that all votes be cast on paper ballots which are a durable, permanent record of the voters intent, easily available for audit or recount," he added.

Sequoia Voting Systems isnt the only vendor involved in the illegal sales. Several downstate counties, including Clinton and St. Clair Counties, entered into agreements with Fidlar Election Co. Fidlar is the "premier dealer" in Illinois for Diebold Election Systems, Inc. Fidlar entered into contingent contracts with several counties to sell the Diebold AccuVote-TSx touch-screen voting machine even though the machine was months away from certification. At the time of the agreement in September, 2005, Bob Delaney, St.Clair County Clerk announced the agreement to purchase 158 Diebold touch-screen voting machines for $921,000. According to the Belleville News-Democrat Delaney said Fidlar Election Co., located in Rock Island, reviewed 10 to 15 voting systems before a decision was made. In the same September 29, 2005 news story, Terry Bartruff, account manager for Fidlar, was quoted as saying "Clinton County signed a contract (with us) and 70 other counties have proposals to go to this (system)." Fidlar eventually signed contracts with about 67 of the States 110 election jurisdictions, many before the AccuVote TSx was given interim certification by the State Board of Elections on December 20, 2005, just eleven days before the deadline mandated by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) would have jeopardized Federal funding for purchase of the machines.

Its really no surprise that the Diebold AccuVote-TSx was selected after all, when Diebolds distributor does the review, what voting machine to you expect them to recommend?" said IBIPs Larry Quick. "The close relationship between Fidlar and local election officials almost guarantees that they will greatly influence purchase decisions," he continued.

"Unfortunately the State Board of Elections often offers little meaningful oversight and the certification process seems to be almost automatic," said Patrick OHara, vice chair of the City of Chicago Chapter. "The Board has largely ignored citizen input, otherwise they wouldnt be approving these unsecure, unreliable and inaccurate electronic voting machines," he added.

The situation in Chicago and Cook County developed because the The Sequoia Edge II Plus wasnt ready for the March Primary, so the City and County leased 4,100 AVC Edge II direct recording electronic (DRE) touch-screens for March 21st for an additional $1.8 million. Sequoia promised the City and County that it would obtain certification for the new touch-screen device by May 1, 2006 with contract language that said:
"Sequoia agrees that it will take, in a prompt and timely fashion, all steps necessary to obtain full certification of the Edge II Plus from the Illinois State Board of Elections and the appropriate agencies and/or agents of the United States government no later than May 1, 2006. The parties acknowledge that without such certifications the Edge II Plus cannot be used by the County in conducting the November 7, 2006 General Election"

"It would appear that Sequoia breached its contract by not submitting the AVC Edge II Plus to the appropriate testing authorities, including the State Board of Elections, in a timely fashion and thus delayed testing, leading to the current crisis," said IBIPs Bob Wilson. "This has been a pattern of behavior by vendors, including Sequoia, that has led the State Board to adopt a nick of time approach to certification. We saw the same thing occur before that March 21st primary election, with approval of Sequoia optical scan units not coming until February 10th. Then, even later, Diebold came before the Board and asked for a waiver of requirements for their optical scan unit. All this last-minute maneuvering by the vendors puts intolerable pressure on the Board forcing certification of equipment that has already been purchased by local officials and committed for use in elections on the basis of illegal contingent contracts," he added. Wilson concluded, "We believe the combination of contingent contracts and tardy submission for certification by the vendors, compounded by local election officials willingness to enter into these illegal contingent contracts has created an environment where the Board acts more from expediency than best practice."
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AtLiberty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-16-06 08:43 PM
Response to Original message
The Illinois State Board of Elections is up to their usual tricks...waiting until the very last minute to certify voting machines without ample public warning AND without public access.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact Bob Wilson (847) 644-2654 or Larry Quick (630) 460-0857


Evanston, October 16, 2006.



When the earliest of Early Voters in Cook County and Chicago vote Monday morning they will encounter a brand new touch-screen voting machine, the Sequoia AVC Edge II Plus. The "Edge Plus" is so new that its not among those machines certified by the Illinois State Board of Elections for purchase by local election jurisdictions like Chicago and Suburban Cook County.

The State Board of Elections held a "Special Meeting" by telephone on short-notice to approve the Sequoia Edge II Plus DRE and modifications to the WinEDS system at 2:00 pm Friday, October 13, 2006. In discussion with the Boards Executive Director on Tuesday, October 10, 2006, certification of the Sequoia Edge II Plus, modifications to the HAAT and to the WinEDS system were confirmed as being agenda items scheduled to be taken up on Monday October 16, 2006. No mention of plans to hold a special session on Friday was made. The balance of the release, regarding violations of Section 24C-16 of the Illinois Election Code stands.
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