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Subpoenas go to vote machine vendors

The state wants to know if they conspired in refusing to sell equipment to Leon County.

Associated Press
Published March 30, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist said Wednesday his office has issued subpoenas to the three companies certified to sell voting machines in Florida as he reviews a dispute between them and Leon County's elections supervisor.

Diebold Election Systems Inc., Election Systems & Software Inc. and Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. all have refused to sell equipment to Leon County to let disabled voters cast ballots without help. Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho has been outspoken about his concern that the devices can be manipulated to change race outcomes.

The subpoenas seek information on whether the companies agreed among themselves not to do business with Leon County, which is in violation of the federal Help American Vote Act without the equipment.

"It is critical for our democratic process to work efficiently and effectively, but of most importance, fairly," Crist said. "These subpoenas are to ensure that the rights of our voters with disabilities as well as all Florida voters are secured."

Crist wants to see copies of documents relating to sales of voting machines by Diebold, Election Systems & Software and Sequoia in Florida since January 2003.

Diebold, an Ohio company, has agreed to revisit its business dealings with Leon County, Secretary of State Sue Cobb said.

Michelle Shafer, a spokeswoman for Sequoia, of Oakland, Calif., said Sequoia "regards any allegations of wrongdoing in this matter as without merit and stands ready to fully cooperate" with the investigation.

"We are confident a review . . . will show that our company made a decision not to enter into a long-term formal relationship with Leon County after a thorough examination of our previous working relationship with the county," said Ken Fields of ES&S, in Omaha, Neb. Sancho and the Florida American Civil Liberties Union were delighted with Crist's action.

"Up to this point in history, no vendor has ever refused to sell to a willing jurisdiction who wants to purchase equipment," Sancho said. "Ironically, after Leon County conducted tests that revealed vulnerabilities to their e-voting systems, then nobody would sell to us."

Florida ACLU executive director Howard Simon called the attorney general's action "the first step to ensuring that the right to vote is not held hostage to the whims of the vendors of voting equipment."

[Last modified March 30, 2006, 02:15:33]

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