Report of the Alameda County, California, Board of Supervisors meeting choosing Sequoia

From: Arthur Keller <voting_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Mon Jun 12 2006 - 01:16:10 CDT

On Thursday, June 6, 2006, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors
met in special session to discuss the purchase of a voting system.
The county had previously purchased Diebold TS voting machines, which
do not have paper trails, which are required for use starting January
1, 2006 by California law. The Registrar of Voters report can be
found at

for the minutes when they are posted.

Agenda follows:

At the beginning of the meeting, which was supposed to start at 11
but started more like 11:30, the county clerk, county administrator,
and acting Registrar of Voters discussed the staff recommendation to
purchase the Sequoia.

The recording is available at

The acting Registrar of Voters Dave MacDonald discussion of the
proposal starts at 1:05.

Here's a quickly typed (not quite verbatim) version of his statement:
"This item is to award a contract to Sequoia Voting Systems for a new
blended optical-scan/direct-recording electronic voting system in the
amount of $13,250,000. Sequoia Voting Systems is a local company,
based here in Oakland. We will be getting a new blended
optical-scan/DRE voting system. The total amount of equipment of for
$10,191,000. The total amount of the contract is not to exceed
$13,250,000. The initial purchase of the system will also include
Instant Runoff Voting capabilities, extended warranties and license
fees over a period of 3 years. The Instant Runoff Voting will be
available sometime in November of next year [2007]. The effective
date of the agreement will be June 9, 2006 and will end approximately
June 8, 2009.

In March 2005, the Registrar of Voters advised the board that a new
law required paper for audit trails in all electronic voting systems
used in elections after January 1, 2006. The equipment we had did
not have a verifiable paper trail and therefore would need to be
upgraded or replaced. State certification issues delayed upgrade or
replacement of the county's system. Therefore, in August of 2005,
the Registrar of Voters issued an RFP for this blended voting system.
On March 14, 2006, the Board authorized the General Services Agency
and the Registrar of Voters to being negotiations with the two
highest ranked vendors, Diebold Election Systems and Sequoia Voting
Systems and it was for a blended system of one optical scanner and
for one to two direct recording electronic devices for 1,000 polling
places. One of the requirements was that the successful contractor
had to have a Secretary of State certified system at the time of
final contract signing. The Sequoia system is fully certified and
ready for the November election. The Registrar of Voters and the GSA
then negotiated contract terms and conditions with both Diebold and
Sequoia Voting Systems to obtain the best contract for a blended
system. And again, the Sequoia system is capable -- will be capable
of running an IRV election by November 2007.

Negotiations with Diebold reached a point of impasse and that's why
we are here today to recommend Sequoia. Sequoia Voting Systems meets
all Federal, State, and County requirements, and has favorable
contract terms. Delivery of the equipment will take place in
September 2006 for the November 2006 election. We'll have one DRE
and one optical scanner for paper ballots at each polling place.
It's compliant with State election code because it does have a
verifiable voter paper audit trail. It's also compliant with the
Help America Vote Act, or HAVA. It also includes source code escrow
agreements with the County. (at 4:38 or so) And its agreement to
make its source code available for open source if that becomes a
requirement for federal or state law. There's a 24 month price
guarantee and over 5 years to include a trade-in discount credit of
up to 70% in year 2007 to 10% in year 2010. There's an agreement to
have the IRV software available by November 2007 at an estimated
amount not to exceed $350,000. They'll provide on-site maintenance.


The Alameda County Board of Supervisors passed the following
(approximate) resolution.

First, Supervisor Scott Hagerty requested a continuation of the
meeting the following Tuesday but without public comment. County
Council said that public comment couldn't be excluded from the
continuation meeting on new matters considered. Supervisor Hagerty
then withdrew his motion.

At 2:57:45, a motion was offered by Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker, and
seconded by Supervisor Gail Steele was to accept the staff report
with the amendment to require a hacking test paid by the county.
(Her original comments said making the report public, but that wasn't
part of the motion.)

Supervisor Nate Miley then proposed a substitute motion, seconded by
Supervisor Carson, to negotiate for Option 3 (ES&S Automark).

After discussion (at 3:16), the substitute motion failed on a 2-3
vote (Supervisors Miley and Carson voting aye, and Supervisors
Haggerty, Steele, and Lai-Bitker voting no).

Then Supervisor Lai-Bitker's motion was discussed. Supervisor
Haggerty directed staff to do a 100% comparison the paper to the
machine count. President Carson asked for an amendment that if
negotiation failed then they would negotiate with ES&S. It was
mentioned that a contract has already been negotiated. Then a vote
was taken with the motion passing with Supervisors Haggerty, Steele,
and Lai-Bitker voting aye and Supervisors Carson and Miley voting no.

At about 3:19, after recessing to closed session, President Carson
wanted to make sure what motion had just been passed. So they
restated the motion. Accept the staff recommendation with two
amendments: independent testing prior to buying the system and that
the results of the test will be public, and doing a 100% recount on
the DRE votes. Then President Carson asked the acting Registrar of
Voters about the advisedness of making the test public. The acting
RoV said to make the test once the system was delivered. Supervisor
Lai-Bitker wanted the test prior to testing. The County
Administrator said that payment could be withheld until the testing
was approved.

Supervisor Haggerty asked if testing was part of the contract, why
did it need to be in the motion. The acting RoV said the only
concern was making it public. The acting RoV suggested having the
security report reviewed by another party, instead of releasing.
Supervisor Haggerty then insisted that the security report not be
released. Supervisor Lai-Bitker said to do the assessment, bring it
back to the board, and then the board will decide what to release.
After discussion and confusion (including a discussion of black box
voting), at 3:31 Supervisor Lai-Bitker made a motion to move on with
the staff recommendation with Sequoia and then have the staff to hire
the hacking security vulnerability testing of the public reporting,
report back to the Board, and then the Board will decide about public
release of the report, and a 100% recount of the DRE votes. Motion
passes 3-2 (with Supervisors Haggerty, Steele, and Lai-Bitker voting
aye and Supervisors Carson and Miley voting no).

Best regards,

Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424

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