Montgomery County officials are exploring the possibility of purchasing new voting machines. “We just want to be proactive,” said Commissioner Leslie Richards, who is chairman of the county’s election board. “We are always looking to make our voter experience better.” Richards pointed out that only two counties in the state, Montgomery and Northampton, use Sequoia Pacific electronic voting machines. Chief Financial Officer Uri Z. Monson said that, while there are no problems with the current machines, “many are reaching the end of their useful life” and the county does not want to have to scramble if many of them start failing at the same time. The county, which has 425 voting precincts, purchased 1,050 Sequoia machines in 1996 at an approximate cost of some $4 million. Today, the county has 1,133 Sequoia machines, with 10 used as “demos” and another 15 considered out of service while they undergo repairs.
… The Sequoia machine was not the county’s first experience with electronic voting machines. The county in 1994 purchased 900 electronic voting machines from MicroVote at a cost of about $3.6 million to replace the 50-year-old mechanical lever machines that were in use at the polls. The use of those machines turned into a disaster. The machines broke down, losing power and jamming while in use and the tabulation software malfunctioned.
The county subsequently turned to Sequoia. This led to dueling lawsuits, with MicroVote suing the county, claiming it was not its equipment but the county’s purchase of too few machines and the county’s failure to adequately train poll workers and educate voters on the use of the machines.
The county countered with a lawsuit of its own, blaming the botched elections on the MicroVote equipment and software. The MicroVote lawsuit was tossed out by the federal courts but the county’s lawsuit went to trial. A jury issued a verdict in favor of the county, directing MicroVote to pay the county in excess of $1 million.