Citizen activist sues provider of electronic voting machines |

Citizen activist sues provider of electronic voting machines

Martin Griffith

RENO (AP) – A citizen activist has sued a leading provider of electronic voting machines, claiming her vote in the 2004 general election was not counted because of a defective machine.

In her Washoe County District Court complaint filed Wednesday, Patricia Axelrod of Reno accuses Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. of negligence and property damage.

The suit also seeks more than $10,000 in damages, and a court order to require the public testing of all Sequoia machines in Washoe County and the repair of any defective machines.

“Sequoia management and product defect and negligence lost my 2004 vote, impaired the accurate results of the 2004 election and threatens the outcome of the 2006 elections,” Axelrod said, adding she considers her vote “precious and personal private property.”

Michelle Shafer, a vice president at Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia, said she had not seen the suit yet and could not comment on it.

But Shafer said the company’s voting equipment has an excellent track record, and that it’s tested by independent authorities and certified by each state.

The state of Nevada was the first in the nation to use electronic voting equipment with a voter-verified paper audit trail, using Sequoia machines.

“We’re very proud of how it’s performed and the state is pleased with how it’s performed, and voters can feel very confident when they go out to vote,” Shafer said Sunday.

Axelrod said she discovered her 2004 vote was neither registered nor counted after she accessed her voting record on the county Registrar of Voter’s Diebold Election Management System computer.

She questioned an independent laboratory’s certification of Sequoia’s AVC Edge with VeriVote Printer voting machines used in Nevada.

One of the lab’s reports listed anomalies with test machines, including a failure to operate when subjected to electrical surges, electromagnetic radiation and electrostatic discharges, Axelrod said.

“I do not trust these machines, bottom line,” Axelrod said Sunday. “The question is how many other people’s votes were not counted as a result of defects inherent in Sequoia voter systems which are used throughout Nevada.”

An audit by the secretary of state’s office found no problems with the machines.

Shafer maintained electronic voting systems are “far more secure” than past systems.

“No one has ever successfully tampered with an electronic voting system in a live election and the same cannot be said for paper ballot systems,” she said.

Axelrod, a Democrat, sued Secretary of State Dean Heller in December 2004, alleging he was withholding election records that could cast doubt on President Bush’s 21,500-vote victory over John Kerry in Nevada.

A judge ruled that Heller must cut a page-copying fee from $1 to 50 cents, effectively allowing Axelrod access to the records.

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