Curiouser and curiouser in New Jersey...
See Kim Zetter's WIRED report for the details, where, incidentally, she notes, "no problem shows up for the Republican primary numbers."
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
Curiouser and curiouser in New Jersey...
See Kim Zetter's WIRED report for the details, where, incidentally, she notes, "no problem shows up for the Republican primary numbers."
A small plane, carrying the co-founder of Venezuelan voting machine company Smartmatic, crashed earlier this week shortly after take-off from the Caracas airport, killing two employees of the company, and several others on board and on the ground. The initial reports from a foreign paper indicated that the cause of the crash may have been the unusual failure of both engines on the small plane.
Smartmatic has been named as a subject in several recent, exclusive, investigative reports here at The BRAD BLOG, surrounding questions of the Venezuelan firm's apparent continuing control over the American e-voting company, Sequoia Voting Systems.
Reports of Monday's crash also indicate that several highly-placed Venezuelan officials were, interestingly, among the first to respond after the plane crashed.
Here's the lede from yesterday's English-language coverage in the Miami Herald:
A founding partner of the Smartmatic voting system, headquartered in Boca Raton, was killed this week in Venezuela when a private plane he was traveling in plummeted into a home near the Caracas airport.
Alfredy Jose Anzola Jaumotte, 34, one of the creators of the voting system program, died at an area hospital Tuesday.
Also killed in the accident were the pilot, Mario Jose Donadi, a convicted drug-trafficker in both the United States and Venezuela; Smartmatic employee Eduardo Ramirez and two residents of the home that was struck by the falling aircraft at about 10 a.m. Monday
Smartmatic is the once-owner and --- as a very recent series of investigative reports from The BRAD BLOG has revealed (see, most notably: here, here and here) --- the still-controlling parent company to Oakland/Denver-based Sequoia Voting Systems, which is currently amidst a hostile takeover imbroglio with competitor Hart InterCivic of Austin, TX.
Despite claiming to have sold Sequoia to a management-led buyout team last November, and thus divested of all control of the company under pressure from an investigation by the U.S. Treasury Departments Commission of Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), our recent exclusive investigative reports here have revealed that Smartmatic still holds direct and/or indirect control over several key aspects of Sequoia's operation, including ownership of the intellectual property (IP) rights for Sequoia's voting machines and tabulator software, and the right to negotiate where Sequoia may or may not compete in foreign markets...
Faced with extraordinarily bad press concerning her company's failed voting machines, which a NJ judge has now ordered to be independently examined (decidedly not by the "blonde nymph"-seeking dude Sequoia originally employed for their own "independent examination"), an impending hostile takeover by competitor Hart InterCivic, and her own boss's recent admission that the company doesn't even control the intellectual property rights to its own voting machines, Sequoia Voting Systems VP of Communications & External Affairs (and part owner), Michelle Shafer, has been left fairly desperate to find some "good news" lately with which to try and fool the company's clients.
But Never-Say-Die Shafer doesn't give up the ghost easily. So in a quick, if somewhat sad, bottom-of-the-barrel scraping article posted to her "Ballot Blog" at the Sequoia website this week, she attempted to trumpet the "Keystone State Success" for Sequoia, following last week's PA primary.
"Pennsylvania elections went very well last week," she writes. "We’ve had a chance to check in with our customers in York, Montgomery and Northampton counties, and it looks like it was a successful primary for all of them," blogged Shafer, before going on to quote the "success" of the company's voting systems, as reported by two different PA newspapers.
One selective quote, from one of the papers, sings the praises of Sequoia's AVC Advantage e-voting machines (the same ones which were found to have failed to tabulate votes correctly in NJ's recent Super Tuesday primary), because "Even the older people liked them."
But the same papers Shafer selectively quoted from also offered not-so-wonderful stories about the "success" of the company's machines in Pennsylvania.
Here's what Shafer --- who may as well tattoo a permanent "Kick Me!" sign on her back at this point --- seems to have forgotten to quote, from the very same articles she pointed to, in her blog item about them...
We've never been contacted by the makers of HBO's upcoming Recount film, which promises to be a theatrical re-telling of the 2000 Presidential Election Debacle in Florida. Yet, we'll chalk it up to one helluva/swelluva coincidence, that the preview for the film, as seen below, happens to use The BRAD BLOG's own personal "theme song," Stuck in the Middle With You. Go figure...
HBO's film begins airing May 25, and while we hate to give away the ending, Al Gore won [PDF].
Of course, that's only if one bothers to count all of the ballots actually successfully cast (if not counted) in the state of Florida, as a media and academic consortium did, as seen at the link above, revealing that by every possible chad-counting standard (hanging, pregnant, swinging, etc.) Al Gore received more votes than George W. Bush. Period.
That might help to explain why Bush had to go to his friends on the Supreme Court to get them not to allow the ballots to be counted, in one of the most remarkably liberal acts of judicial activism, undercutting states' rights, in the history of this nation.
But we're guessing the film has that other, less accurate ending, implying that Bush actual "won" Florida (which he didn't).
In either case, since the myths of the FL 2000 election are likely to be re-debated afresh with the release of HBO's film, we wanted to a) Offer the link above (showing that Gore received more votes in FL than Bush) and b) Remind you, and the entirety of the corporate mainstream media, which ignored it when the following report first aired, that the chads on those ballots in Florida hung for a reason. As 7 former employees of Sequoia Voting Systems, the company which produced FL's paper ballots in 2000, attest on-camera, they were forced by company superiors to use inferior paper for those ballots, only the ones going to Florida, and were further ordered to misalign the chads on those paper ballots, but only for those going to Dem stronghold Palm Beach County.
That, after decades of producing ballots which never featured a hanging chad.
If you've yet to see it, here's the mind-blowing section of Dan Rather's remarkable HDNet report which aired last summer, but was picked up by absolutely nobody in the CMSM thereafter. If you can't watch the following, the transcript is posted here. But if you've not seen this one yet, please prepare to be amazed, and appalled...
[UPDATED: Please be sure to see the update, containing exclusive, previously unreported news, added at the bottom of this article.]
The BRAD BLOG learned this morning that a New Jersey judge has today given plaintiffs and Princeton University computer scientists the right to examine the state's Sequoia AVC Advantage touch-screen voting machines which failed to record voter totals accurately, in at least six different counties, during the Garden State's recent Super Tuesday primary.
Sequoia had previously both threatened legal action against the professors, despite a unanimous request from a state association of county election clerks, and attempted to quash the court-ordered subpoenas to have the machines impounded and examined independently.
The Courier-Post confirms this afternoon, and publishes the following account of the Judge's decision today...
The order was issued today by Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg in Trenton. She dropped a May trial date on the reliability of the machines but says the trial should start by September.
She has been asked to decide if the state's 10,000 electronic voting machines should be scrapped, as the voting rights advocates contend.
The state of New Jersey says the machines should continue to be used in elections.
The manufacturer of the machines, Sequoia Voting Systems, has resisted efforts to have the machines tested independently.
The BRAD BLOG has covered this (sometimes very amusing) saga in great detail, since it first came to light following the election (and even on Election Day, when machine failure kept the NJ Governor from being able to cast his own vote for 45 minutes).
For those who haven't been able to keep up with it all, a post which quickly recaps the bulk of Sequoia's disgraceful NJ behavior can be read here.
We've also continued to cover (with complete exclusivity, unless someone else in the media cares to join us! Hello?) the saga of beleaguered Sequoia's fight for their very life, as they attempt to fend off a hostile take-over by competitor Hart InterCivic.
IMPORTANT/EXCLUSIVE UPDATE!: AP jumps in with a few more details raising a point which The BRAD BLOG can reveal here for the first time, concerning Sequoia's "intellectual property" rights. Namely, they neither own, nor control them, as admitted recently by the company's own CEO...
Congrats to Bo Lipari and the NY Verified Voting crew, on a milestone in their long, and continuing fight for election integrity in the state of New York. Writes Lipari this morning:
Now, of course, the fight will continue to make sure the state actually bothers to count those paper ballots when they get them, as it will be error-prone, hackable, optical-scan devices that are purchased across the state.
The good folks of NY will also want to keep a close eye on the attempted hostile takeover of Sequoia Voting Systems by competitor Hart InterCivic (as reported to date only by The BRAD BLOG, unfortunately) and in light of the $100 million worth of pending contracts NY now has with Sequoia for all new voting machines.
That $100 million hangs in the balance, as the contract with Sequoia may soon result in NY finding themselves in business with an entirely different company than they bargained for, one with a federal fraud suit hanging over the head, and one that could give a completely new meaning to the phrase: "I Hart NY"!
On Tuesday night, you will be told who the winner of the Pennsylvania Primary is. You will accept it. You will have no choice. No matter who the winner really is. Or isn't.
This Tuesday's crucial contest will be primarily run on 100% faith-based, Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen or push-button) e-voting machines across the state. There will be no way to determine after the election whether the computers have accurately recorded, or not, the intent of those voters who voted on them. As VerifiedVoting.org summarizes the crucial contest, it "will be essentially unrecountable, unverifiable, and unauditable."
Most of the votes, more than 85%, will be cast on such DRE systems which do not provide so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPATs), as their use has been found unconstitutional in the state, since its been determined, accurately, that ballot secrecy cannot be guaranteed when using such paper trail systems. Not that it matters.
With or without a so-called "paper trail" printer, all touch-screen/push-button/DRE voting machines are equally unverifiable and antithetical to American democracy. Period.
So, as with South Carolina's primary, so so long ago, and other states since, whatever the officials tell you at the end of the election is what you, and we, will have to accept. Whether votes are counted accurately is completely out of anyone's hands at this point. It's strictly Democracy of the Gods...
On Sunday, April 13th, following our Thursday April 10th exclusive investigative report revealing that the nation's 4th largest voting machine vendor, Hart InterCivic, was on the verge of a successful hostile takeover of the nation's 3rd largest voting machine company, Sequoia Voting Systems, in order to become the nation's 2nd largest powerhouse in the "election industry," Sequoia quietly issued a press release on their website, publicly confirming our report.
The release is not linked from their main page, but we were able to trip across it this morning nonetheless. We post it in full at the end of this article since Sequoia's website has been frequently hacked at times of late, and the company also has a history of revising, scrubbing and doctoring officially published material on their website without noting those changes.
While officials at both Hart and Sequoia have now confirmed our report, Sequoia has yet to fully inform its voting system clients around the country --- or even its own employees --- as to what's actually going on, even while a "high-priority" company-wide email was distributed immediately after our report went public, attempting to instruct employees to field no "calls from the media"...
The following video comes fresh from our buddy Jake Soboroff of Why Tuesday? He was at last night's Democratic debate and tried to get some answers from some of the local Democratic public officials on hand --- including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and PA Governor Ed Rendell --- to see if they had any concerns about the e-voting machines to be used in next week's crucial PA Primary.
Kudos to Jake for asking, just one of the so-many questions (if, arguably, one of the most important) that the Corporate Media, such as ABC News, couldn't even be bothered to dream of, apparently.
Despite the fact that, next week, wholly unverifiable, 100% faith-based e-voting systems will be in use across much of the Keystone State --- including, perhaps most notably, Sequoia's AVC Advantage touch-screens in Montgomery and Northhampton counties, even though very same systems failed so spectacularly in neighboring NJ on Super Tuesday (see this recent BRAD BLOG story for the quick skinny on what happened, and continues to be going on with the NJ/Sequoia failed touch-screen imbroglio) --- the election officials interviewed by Soboroff, in the following quick video recorded just last night, remain utterly and completely clueless.
It's simply amazing...
And folks wonder why the job of restoring Election Integrity in this country is so frickin' hard?!
The above video --- including Nutter's comments that there have been "no problems" with the machines, since, after all, they got him elected, and Rendell's admission that he "knows nothing about them", but that they are "all HAVA approved machines" --- underscores how unbelievably difficult this fight is, and how clueless the very folks needed to help make a change actually are, in this entire fine mess.
Suggestion to Soboroff for next vid: Ask any elected official or election official in PA, or anywhere else, if they can prove that even a single vote --- as cast on any touch-screen machine during any actual election --- has ever been recorded and counted accurately as the voter intended. Just evidence of a single such vote will do. They will not be able to do so. None of them.
UPDATE 4/19/08: The good election integrity champions of VotePA touched base with us concerning our above suggestion to Soboroff to point out that there is one way possible to prove that a touch-screen/DRE counted a vote accurately, as per voter intent, during an actual election. An unusual write-in candidate could be cast, and then checked after the election to see if it was recorded accurately. Therefore, we'll slightly modify our currently suggested challenge above, to any election official, asking for proof of any non-write-in vote having been recorded accurately as per voter intent, as ever cast on a DRE/touch-screen voting machine during an actual election. We've made that challenge for quite a while (minus the "non-write-in" part), and we've yet to receive an iota of proof from any election official, even from those who will tell you that their DRE/touch-screens record votes "accurately".
Truth is, they have nothing to prove their case. Not even a single (non-write-in) vote ever cast. Yet they still claim them to be "accurate" without any such scientific evidence of same. Go figure.
-- By Brad Friedman and John Gideon
New Jersey's Department of State, which at the beginning of this month took over all state-wide election duties from the state Attorney General's office, may be celebrating its new duties by sipping down a few glasses of Sequoia Voting Systems-flavored kool-aid in regards to the continuing saga of the Sequoia AVC Advantage touch-screen voting systems which failed during, and after, the state's Super Tuesday primary.
In a press release issued late last week --- which Sequoia was all too happy to selectively feature on its website --- the NJ Dept. of State made a couple of curious, and indeed misleading, announcements. Among them:
That, despite the finding of a NJ judge last Tuesday declaring that failed voting machines in some six different counties were to be subpoenaed by plaintiffs and subjected to mandatory independent review in order to determine the reason why at least sixty machines reported voter totals on their end-of-day paper tapes which disagreed with the internal numbers reported by the machines.
After the judge's order last week, Sequoia quickly moved to try and quash the subpeonas [PDF, 82 pages], despite the fact that they are not actually a party to the long-running court battle between the state of NJ and citizen plaintiffs suing them in hopes of getting rid of the touch-screen systems altogether (or, in lieu of that, have paper-trail printers added to them).
As Pennsylvania prepares to use the very same flawed Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machines in next week's crucial primary, we've tried to sort out what is --- and isn't --- going on in this New Jersey mess. We've also tried to determine who is reading the disputed paper tapes correctly, since a Princeton scientist seems to read them one way, while the SoS office and two of the NJ counties (which had originally read them as the Princeton Prof did) have suddenly decided to read them another way.
What we can tell you indisputably, however, is that if it's debatable as to what those paper tapes actually say, then those voting systems are in violation of the federal law which mandates "a permanent paper record with a manual audit capacity" that "shall be available as an official record." If there's a question about what the "paper record" from each machine actually says, than it certainly can't be used as an "official record" for auditing purposes.
To sort out the mess, we've touched base with the plaintiff's attorney in the case, as well as with the NJ SoS. Sequoia's spokesperson, VP and part-owner (for the moment) Michelle Shafer, on the other hand, doesn't seem to want to talk to us anymore for some reason...
In Aurora, Illinois, today, Beacon News' Dan Campana files a very good report on the federal fraud suit filed against Austin, Texas, based voting machine company Hart InterCivic. The suit, alleging dozens of false claims and fraudulent activities by Hart in order to receive federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) money, was filed originally by former employee turned whistleblower William Singer back in 2006, but did not become unsealed until March 27th, when The BRAD BLOG covered it, along with posting the full stunning complaint [PDF].
Beacon News is based in Kane County, IL, which uses the faulty Hart voting systems in question.
Campana's report today --- which quotes yours truly in a number of places --- is the only corporate media coverage of the lawsuit in the nearly three weeks since the case was finally unsealed. Until now, there's been the fairly extensive coverage found on this blog, an item on the same day the case was unsealed filed by Kim Zetter at WIRED's "Threat Level" blog (which we replied to here), and a very short squib from AP on the same day, which, according to a quick Google News search, was carried by only a single news outlet, CBS 4 in Denver.
(For the record, our extensively detailed and sourced report on Hart's attempted takeover of Sequoia late last week has been picked up by nobody, other than ComputerWorld where we, ourselves, filed a short summary report. That, despite officials from both Hart and Sequoia having confirmed the accuracy of our report, and the fact that Hart, which controls some 8% of the voting market in this country, is about to swallow up Sequoia Voting Systems, which controls 20% of it, to become the nation's second largest e-voting machine vendor. We'll know by Tuesday at the latest, most likely, if Sequoia was able to save itself from Hart's hostile takeover.)
So with a dearth of coverage anywhere but here, we can heartily recommend Campana's report on Singer's suit. His article includes comments from us (as mentioned), one of Singer's attorneys, Hart spokesperson Peter Lichtenheld (who shamelessly plays the tired old "conspiracy theory" card), some Election Integrity advocates from the non-partisan Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, and some state and local Kane County election officials who have deluded themselves into believing their Hart machines are safe for use in American democracy.
When Campana interviewed us for his story, we suggested he ask any of the election officials he planned to interview for a single piece of evidence to prove that any single vote, ever cast during an election on a Hart DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) voting machine in the county, has ever been recorded accurately, as intended by a voter.
Though Campana references our challenge in his report ("Friedman contends no government officials can prove the votes cast on electronic machines can be accurately linked to tallies",) he doesn't quote any of the officials as being able to offer such evidence. Little surprise, because they can't produce such evidence. It's strictly impossible. Yet they continue to use these machines anyway.
But he does manage to get a few amusing and wholly unsupportable statements from some of those deluded officials. We're delighted to spend our Sunday dismantling them --- both the statements, and the officials...
A bunch of world-class computer scientists testified publicly this week that "U.S. Presidential Election Can Be Hacked".
As stunning as that sounds, there's nothing new here necessarily to readers of The BRAD BLOG, other than the fact that outlets like the IDG News Service and PCWorld are reporting it --- out loud --- and that the computer scientist community, specifically those who have been studying these systems, are now out and out saying it --- in public...and out loud.
"The three systems we looked at are three of the most widely used around the nation," warned professor David Wagner of the University of California, "They're going to be using them in the 2008 elections; they're still going to have the same vulnerabilities we found."
Wagner was speaking about e-voting system made by Diebold, Sequoia Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic which he examined during CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen's independent "Top to Bottom" review last year. He "and his team found that they could introduce a computer virus to any of the three systems, which would then spread throughout the county and ultimately skew the vote count," the IDG News Service reports.
While our readers may be familiar with the above, our friend "DHinMI" and his fellow misinformed DailyKos front pagers may want to give this short article a quick look sometime soon. Particularly the part about paper ballots, and that simply having them is not enough...if nobody bothers to actually count them.
Here's the key grafs from the article...Along with a special clip for the dangerously misinformed/misleading dKos boys and girls...
-- Brad Friedman
As if Sequoia Voting Systems doesn't have enough trouble already, the company now needs some $2 million dollars in cash...quickly. Without it, it is likely to be subsumed by one of its nearest competitors, Hart InterCivic of Austin, TX, as soon as next Tuesday, The BRAD BLOG has learned.
In what could well be a major shift on the American election industry landscape --- and certainly on elections themselves in dozens of states across the country --- voting machine company Hart InterCivic informed the current owners of the beleaguered Sequoia of their intention to acquire ownership of the company in a move which could take effect as early as next week.
The attempted hostile takeover --- which, we've learned, has been quietly in the works behind the scenes since mid-February --- has set off a building panic among the senior management and owners at Sequoia, whose money woes had already led them to schedule a shut-down of their Oakland headquarters. That shop is to close within a matter of months, as the operations for the company are to be consolidated at its Denver offices.
The takeover by Hart is made possible in the wake of a deal made by Sequoia's current owners, SVS Holdings, Inc., with its former owners, the off-shore consortium Smartmatic. Smartmatic was forced to give up control of the company after the media and Congress noticed in 2006 that the company had ties to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. The officers and owners of SVS are comprised largely of previous Sequoia officials who took over the company after Smartmatic's failed attempt to find an outside buyer in 2006. The deal resulted in an agreement between SVS and Smartmatic for the latter to hold a $2 million note from the purchase. Smartmatic now appears ready to sell that note to Hart as part of a $16 million dollar deal which SVS has a contractual right to match within a 60-day period, ending on April 15th.
Sequoia is believed by election experts to be this country's third largest voting machine company, followed by Hart. The combined operation, should the takeover be completed, could well create a new powerhouse in the industry, displacing #2 Diebold/Premier, and coming up just behind the country's currently largest election vendor, ES&S.
Court documents obtained by The BRAD BLOG reveal that Hart notified SVS of its intention to purchase the $2 million note held by Smartmatic on February 15th, giving the group of owners and share holders of SVS --- including CEO and President Jack Blaine, and VPs Michelle Shafer and Edwin Smith (whose names BRAD BLOG readers may recognize) --- just 60 days to match the offer Hart had given to Smartmatic. As the deadline nears, Due Dilligence processes have begun, and are near the final phases of completion at Sequoia...whether company management likes it or not.
Hart's move has sent Sequoia/SVS executives into a legal and financial tizzy and --- perhaps taking a page from Hillary Clinton's campaign book --- the company seems to be throwing the legal kitchen sink at both Hart and Smartmatic in an attempt to nullify Hart's offer. Court documents reveal arguments that Hart's is not a "bona fide" offer that SVS is legally required to match. So far, however, those legal maneuvers, reflected by a dizzying array of motions and cross-motions, suits and counter-suits --- completely unreported by anyone in the media until now --- have all been summarily and soundly rejected by the Delaware magistrate adjudicating the matter.
Every legal effort by Sequoia and SVS to dispatch with the hostile takeover attempt has failed miserably so far, leading Vice Chancellor Stephen P. Lamb of the Court of Chancery in Delaware to even describe one such legal theory of SVS' as...(big irony alert!)...a "conspiracy theory"!
But while Sequoia faces a plethora of legal liabilities concerning their oft-failed voting systems, Hart InterCivic faces its own share of challenges with a pending --- and damning --- federal fraud/qui tam suit against the company, as unsealed late last month. Moreover, Hart's acquisition plan could face scrutiny from members of Congress and Treasury Department officials, as well as states across the country who thought they had turned over control of their elections to Sequoia, only to soon learn there will be a new owner, not of their choosing, of the secret software and devices which determine the results of their public elections.
While litigation over claims of fraud and failure in both company's voting systems await, so does at least one major prize to the victor of this grudge match: New York state's soon-to-be-completed $100 million deal with Sequoia...or maybe now with Hart...or...whoever...
Exclusive details shortly on potential major shake-up in the e-voting industry...
Detailed investigative report coming...
Stay tuned...Developing hard...
UPDATE: The full BRAD BLOG report now posted here.
A much condensed version of the story is also now posted at ComputerWorld.
Guest blogged by Ellen Theisen, VotersUnite.Org
Over two years ago, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against New York State to force the state to comply with the federal requirement to equip every polling place with voting systems that are accessible to people with disabilities, as mandated by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).
Meanwhile, the DoJ has taken no action at all to stop any state from using voting equipment that has been proven to violate HAVA’s requirement for accurate vote-counting.
While it's important for every citizen, disabled or not, to be able to vote privately, a private vote is meaningless if that vote is not counted accurately. Despite the equal weight HAVA gave to both important mandates, the federal requirement for accurate vote-counting is being wholly ignored by the states, and even the federal government.
Two recent incidents which have been making headlines --- in New Jersey and Ohio --- illustrate clear, undeniable violations of the federal accuracy requirement. They are impossible to deny or ignore. For the moment, however, federal officials are doing exactly that...
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