March 21, 2007

Bergen Record Reports: State investigating Union County's voting machines

NOTE: During the 2007 Budget Hearings Dennis Kobitz, deputy administrator of the Union County Board of Elections, and "Allegedly" former Hillside Democratic operative for powerbroker Charlotte DeFalippo, reported that all Union County voting machines would be retrofitted with paper ballots by next election. Tina Renna

SCI requests county voting machine files Saturday, March 17, 2007 By OSHRAT CARMIELSTAFF WRITER

The State Commission of Investigation has asked Bergen County to produce volumes of paperwork about voting machine and absentee-vote-counting scanner purchases.
The March 13 request also was sent to at least two other counties, Union and Essex, election officials say.

"Nobody can understand what it's all about; we have no idea," said Dennis Kobitz, deputy administrator of the Union County Board of Elections, who spoke with his counterparts in other counties.

In Bergen County, Elections Superintendent Patricia DiCostanzo said Friday that she sent the request to the county's legal counsel for review. Officials at the SCI declined to discuss the letter Friday and declined to say how expansive their document request is.

"We can't comment," said spokesman Lee Seglem.

The letter sent to Bergen County is "in lieu of a subpoena," it reads, and casts a wide net for any and all records about the purchase of voting machines, equipment and software from Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. and its subsidiaries.

Sequoia is cited in an ongoing lawsuit in state Superior Court which challenges the reliability of electronic voting machines used in the state. Bergen and Union both use Sequoia machines.
Last month, Judge Linda R. Feinberg gave state officials a May deadline by which to prove that existing machines can withstand voter fraud -- and if not, to have them replaced.

Election officials could not confirm whether the SCI probe was related to the lawsuit.
In its letter to Bergen County, SCI requests all bids, contracts, licenses, canceled checks and warranties relating to the purchase of voting machines from Sequoia. But it also asks for paperwork relating to any other voting machine manufacturer that does business with the county.

It also asks for a list of all people authorized to enter into a contract with Sequoia and for any letters or e-mail correspondence between those officials and Sequoia. It asks for correspondence between members of the Board of Freeholders and Sequoia, as well as correspondence between the freeholders and the state Division of Elections.

Also requested: a complete inventory of all of the county's voting machines and a list of all political contributions received from Sequoia and other voting machine manufacturers.
The commission gave the county a March 28 deadline to produce the documents.

Staff Writer Josh Gohlke contributed to this article. E-mail:
Copyright © 2007 North Jersey Media Group Inc.Copyright Infringement Notice User Agreement & Privacy Policy