The roughly 3,700 electronic voting machines owned by Riverside County are locked in a warehouse, being scavenged for parts, with no plans to sell the multimillion-dollar equipment that was rendered idle by the stroke of a pen more than five years ago, a county official confirmed.
In August 2007, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified e- voting units in use in counties throughout the state following a series of security tests that revealed vulnerabilities in the machines that could leave them open to computer hack attacks.
At the time, Riverside County's Sequoia AVC Edge voting machines had been used in elections going back to 2000. County supervisors universally lauded e-voting, calling the practice a great time-saver with less risk for the type of errors that came to light in Florida following the 2000 presidential election.
Members of election integrity group Save-R-Vote of Temecula Valley, a staunch opponent of e-voting, forecasted Bowen's decision, with the head of the organization, Tom Courbat, recommending that the county sell its Sequoia units for pennies on the dollar to cut its losses.
He was ignored.
The units, which cost an estimated $30 million to purchase and maintain between 2000 and 2008, are now stored in a "secure" warehouse in the Riverside area, according to county Executive Office spokesman Ray Smith.
"Currently, the extra inventory is used for replacement parts," Smith said. "The law still requires one accessible unit for each polling place; using parts from extra inventory saves taxpayer dollars."
At least one machine is set up at each polling station during an election for the benefit of disabled voters as required under the federal Help America Vote Act.
Smith said that since the state's de-certification of the machines, there is "not a market" in which to sell them.
According to Smith, the county's position today remains the same as it was five years ago: "The county has said all along that our electronic voting system is safe, secure and helps speed the return of results."