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Judge muzzles Sequoia e-voting attack dogs

NJ machines to be inspected, after all

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New Jersey voting rights advocates will have the chance to have independent experts inspect electronic voting machines they say malfunctioned during the recent presidential primary election, a state judge has ruled.

Sequoia Voting Systems, the manufacturer of the touch-screen machines, previously forced New Jersey officials to scrap plans for an independent review after threatening legal action. Lawyers for the company claimed the audit would violate its trade secrets.

Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg of Trenton gave the go-ahead for the experts to test software and firmware of Sequoia machines that were used in the February 5 presidential primary in New Jersey. Officials from New Jersey's Union County requested the review after discovering that paper-tape backups showing the number of Democrats and Republicans casting ballots didn't match the same data contained on cartridge printouts. Officials from four other counties later identified the same errors.

Sequoia has said the errors were the result of mistakes by poll workers. It also argued test labs for the federal and state governments had already thoroughly inspected machines and inspections by Princeton University computer scientist Ed Felten were not necessary.

Feinberg disagreed. According to the Associated Press, she said inspection of the Sequoia machines is "clearly critical" to analyzing the "security and accuracy" of the machines. She said she would draft a protective order that would prevent information about the machines from being publicly disclosed.

Feinberg also postponed the trial date in the case from May to September. The delay means the outcome will come too late to change how New Jerseyans vote in the November presidential elections. ®

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