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By John Gideon on 8/18/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

At least two California counties have announced that they may change from touch-screen voting to paper and optical scan. Of course this means buying more equipment from the vendors. Rather than just buying more they should be turning to the vendors of their failed touch-screen systems and demanding their money back. If nothing else, the California “Top-To-Bottom” review proved that the machines the vendors peddled were unreliable, inaccessible, and insecure. It’s time that the vendors were held responsible for their sales practices. Not to be outdone, election officials in some Pennsylvania counties are demanding that they be allowed to use their AVS WinVote system. The federally certified lab iBeta has stopped testing the latest AVS product because AVS decided not to pay their bill. Before they stopped testing, though, iBeta found 1,946 source code anomalies, 25 serious documentation problems, and an unauthorized change of motherboards. Election officials want to ignore those problems....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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If So, Let the Fraud Suits Begin!
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2007 3:35pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from St. Louis...

I know it seems difficult to believe, but the first sign we've yet to be able to find publicly of a public official finally considering holding a voting machine company accountable for years of fraud and lying about their equipment, may come out of --- of all places --- Riverside County, CA!

Buried at the bottom of a report in yesterday's Press-Enterprise there is an interesting indication that County Supervisor Bob Buster, one of the most ardent supporters, previously, of touch-screen voting systems made by Sequoia, may be coming around to face reality, and may even be preparing to hold the company accountable for some of the millions of wasted county tax dollars...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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AVS in Contract Dispute with 'Independent' Test Lab After 'Thousands of Irregularities' Are Discovered in Company's 'Upgraded' Software
Does Issue Augur Similar Concerns for Other States, Near-Bankrupt Companies?
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2007 11:39am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from St. Louis...

Three Pennsylvania counties are considering pulling their old lever voting machines out of mothballs for this November's general election. The counties' "Plan B" comes in the wake of a refusal by e-voting machine company Advance Voting Systems (AVS) to pay the bill to federal "Independent Testing Authority" (ITA) lab iBeta Quality Assurance which has, according to NJ's Express-Times, found "thousands of source code irregularities and 24 documentation irregularities with AVS machines."

A problem in AVS's currently certified systems in PA makes them impossible to use as is in the upcoming elections.

iBeta is one of the private testing labs recently given approval by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) to test voting systems at the federal level. The labs, however, are still paid by the voting machine companies themselves.

The EAC's letter [PDF] also indicated that iBeta discovered AVS machines, contrary to the submitted documentation, used a different motherboard than those on the machines submitted for testing.

It's unclear, according to some of the reports from the PA papers, whether lever machines may legally be used in their elections, or if the counties may have to move to....wait for it...paper ballots in this November's municipal elections.

The Express-Times reveals the extraordinary arrogance of the voting machine companies, who, until heat has recently been brought to bear on both the EAC and the companies, had for years received a rubber-stamp for qualification of their systems by federal testers --- no matter how poorly the systems were built. After the EAC notified the company that certification testing was being suspended at iBeta due to lack of payment, "Howard Van Pelt, Advanced Voting Solutions president, maintained the machines are certified, regardless of what the commission says," according to the Express-Times.

Van Pelt, however, is wrong. But he, and the others like him, are used to receiving a free pass from the EAC and other Federal and local authorities for so many years that they may still be under the impression they can do whatever they want, despite what the federal government tells them and despite what the law says.

Yet AVS may not be the only voting machine company we may soon find unwilling --- or unable --- to pay for testing of voting systems, which could subsequently plunge elections in other states and counties into danger of not being carried out at all...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 8/17/2007 6:19pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from St. Louis...

Last night's event out here in Kirkwood, sponsored by Missourians for Honest Elections, was terrific. A packed house, and a bunch of fired up folks --- hopefully ready to go out and fight for their democracy --- by the time we were done, I do believe. Speaking of "fired up," I was particularly honored to have ace bloggers, reporters, muckrakers Thomas Charles and Howard Beale from the Fired Up! Missouri blog in the house.

As well, between my remarks and the Q&A period, I was informed that a full contingent of officials from the City of St. Louis Board of Elections had come out as well. Though I offered them the opportunity to respond at the top of the Q&A to any of my comments, e.g., "tell me where I was full of it," they all declined, saying instead they had "just come to listen." After encouraging them to bring a lawsuit against Diebold (the voting machine vendor foolishly relied upon in the city of St. Louis) for fraud, we moved on to some great questions from the very enthusiastic group of folks who turned out on another sweltering St. Louis evening. Afterwards, one of the Republican members of the St. Louis City BoE bothered to come up, introduce himself, and swap business cards. Which is very much appreciated.

I'm told that the Democrats on the board are also appointed by Republican Governor Matt Blunt (former SoS and ACVR founder/scammer Thor Hearne's partner in crime), so it's said that they may or may not be actual Democrats. I'll stay agnostic, since I don't know either way, and just appreciative that they bothered to come and at least one came by afterwards to make contact.

On the other hand, Thor Hearne, Paul DiGregorio (former St. Louis County Election Director, turned EAC Chair, turned Voting Company chief), and John Diehl (current St. Louis County Election Director) declined to show despite the invitation sent to them to speak at the event along with me. Oh, well.

The biggest honor of the week for me here in St. Louis, no doubt, was an invitation I received by phone on Tuesday afternoon to come in and meet with the Editorial Board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the once-great paper founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1878. It's now the city's only major daily.

The hour and a half chat on Wednesday, with some six or so folks, including commentary editor Eric Mink, editorial writer Jim Gallagher, letters editor Jamie Riley, editorial cartoonist R.J. Matson, and reporter Jo Mannies (the last remaining reporter to whom vote-suppressor Thor Hearne will speak, apparently), was a good one. They had tough questions for me, which I'd like to think I handled well-enough and, as you may have guessed, I had some tough questions and/or challenges for them in return. Specifically, in reference to their dearth of coverage on these most important issues, particularly here in Missouri, where Thor (whose first name they all sang out in chorus when I mentioned "one of the nation's top 'voter fraud' guys lives right here in St. Louis") lives, and in the state regarded aptly by Greg Gordon of McClatchy as "Ground Zero" for the GOP in the 2006 Election.

By the way, everyone here seems to know Thor in some way and has a strong opinion about him. Most not necessarily kind.

Little time for more details right now, other than I was struck by the words, plastered on the wall across from the elevator doors, in the lobby of the old Post building downtown where we met. The words greet everyone as they leave the elevator, just above the promotion for the Post's "Millionaire Money" promotion (see photo below.)

Given some who have charged me with being less than polite from time to time in my reporting, the 1904 quote from Joseph Pulitzer was notable for its bluntness and lack of "diplomacy." If I'm "coarse" enough to follow in his tradition, I will wear that label proudly. Here's the photo of the quote, but if it's difficult to read, so the text of Pulitzer's comments are reprinted below it:

"Our republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. The power to mould the future of the republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations."
-- From North American Review, Written by Joseph Pulitzer in 1904

I've got absolutely nothing to add to that.

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By John Gideon on 8/17/2007 6:05pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

In yesterday’s DVN I mentioned that Smartmatic had been looking for a buyer for Sequoia for “over a year.” In fact Smartmatic announced it was looking for a buyer for Sequoia on 22 Dec. 2006 so it has been 8 months. Both Sequoia and ES&S have released statements in an attempt to make lemonade from the lemons served up by Dan Rather’s Report. ...

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We're Happy to Correct Our Error Publicly, Will They Correct Their Multiple Ones in Turn?
UPDATE: Sequoia's Attempt to Fool America Continues, Company Scrubs Website, Rewrites History!
By John Gideon on 8/17/2007 2:28pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

ED NOTE: ARTICLE UPDATED TO REFLECT SEQUOIA AND MICHELLE SHAFER'S SHAMELESSLY SCRUBBED, DOCTORED, BACKDATED DOCUMENT. SEE EXPLANATION MID-ARTICLE. - BF

This morning I woke up to an email from Michelle Shafer, Vice President of Communications and External Affairs for Sequoia Voting Systems. Shafer wanted to point out that I had misstated the facts in yesterday's "Daily Voting News" when I asked, "And what about the sale of Sequoia? Smartmatic has been looking for a buyer for Sequoia for over a year now."

Shafer pointed me to a Sequoia press release, from December 22, 2006, in which they say, "The company also today announced its intent to seek an acquirer for Oakland-based Sequoia Voting Systems, a leading provider of voting technology in the United States that Smartmatic has owned since March 2005."

In other words, they've been seeking a buyer for 8 months, not a full year as I'd reported. I responded to let her know I'd be more than happy to issue a correction in today's DVN, as well note the error in the DVN posting here at The BRAD BLOG.

We are interested in being as factual as possible, and regret any error made, no matter how small. When we find one, we try to correct it immediately and transparently.

And, because our email discussion concerned being factual, I pointed out to Shafer that the press release she pointed me to had a number of wholly incorrect facts that she needed to clear up. Her press release from last December, incorrectly states:

"The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has not raised any issues about Sequoia's equipment in the 2006 elections, and the EAC requires that all voting systems receive extensive federal and state testing. Specifically, significant federal, state and local electoral safeguards were in place during the 2006 elections, and even more robust federal safeguards will come into effect in 2007. Sequoia takes these requirements very seriously and has complied with all applicable federal and state requirements."

She is flat out wrong. On a number of counts. Which I pointed out to her in my response. Her response to that was...we'll call it...a bit surprising...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By John Gideon on 8/16/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

It seems that Diebold tried to get out from under their voting machine division by selling it. Well, they have reported that there are no buyers so they are going to separate themselves from that division and give them more autonomy and their own board of directors and take a new name; DESI will now be PESI, Premier Election Solutions Inc. Are they really putting that division in a position where they can file for bankruptcy if necessary and the rest of the company will be insulated? And what about the sale of Sequoia? Smartmatic has been looking for a buyer for Sequoia for over a year now almost 8 months. Now that the Dan Rather Report has aired some of Sequoia’s dirty laundry who is going to buy a company with that baggage and potential legal hassles?

CORRECTION 8/17/07: We had originally reported that Smartmatic has been seeking a buyer for Sequoia Voting Sytems for "over a year now". They have contacted us to let us know that their search has been ongoing, so far unsuccessfully, only since last December 22 --- eight months, instead of the year we reported. We regret the error.

All of the above stories, and many others today, are linked below...

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Election Unit Spins off from Corporate Parent, Becomes 'Premier Election Solutions' After Failure to Find Buyer for Failing Unit!
Is Full Bankruptcy Far Behind?
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2007 10:32am PT  

-- By Brad Friedman from St. Louis, MO...

Diebold Elections Systems, Inc., is no more. At least in name.

After a year and a half of conversely trying to dump their failed voting unit and/or lying to customers about the reliability and security of their voting systems, corporate parent Diebold is giving up the ghost of its election business which, according to an analyst in a Reuters report, was "responsible for less than 10 percent of Diebold's revenue, and 100 percent of its bad publicity."

According to a company statement [PDF] just released, Diebold Elections Systems, Inc., will become Premier Election Solutions as of today. The company president, David Byrd, who has overseen the disastrous election unit for some time, will stay on as president to go down with the ship, apparently.

Applying full lipstick to the pig, the company statement declares, "The change to Premier signals a new beginning for the company." And President Byrd picks up where he left off, furiously polishing his turd with the claim that "This is both a fresh identity for our company and a unique opportunity for us to concentrate our focus solely on providing best-in-class elections solutions for current and potential customers."

No word on when they'd begin that "focus" after years of claiming same, but doing anything but. They have, however, radically lowered their expected revenue statement for the year by $120 million.

After a string of disastrous reports on the quality and security of their voting systems, along with plummeting stock prices since last week, it seems clear that Diebold, the once-great, more-than-100-year old company, is doing whatever it can at this point to save the corporate parent. While its stock price (DBD) plummeted at today's opening bell and is currently down some 5.6% from yesterday, the price has begun to rise again in the last hour or so on news of the spin-off.

More than anything, however, the move may well be a harbinger of a coming declaration of bankruptcy for Diebold/Premier, as we see it. With the unit now spun off from the blue chip Diebold parent, declaring bankruptcy or dissolving the company altogether might be less trouble for investors and the main company as a whole, as their extraordinary legal and financial liabilities continue to mount...

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By John Gideon on 8/15/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

It appears that Advanced Voting Solutions (AVS), vendor for the WinVote DREs, may be in financial trouble. A report from PA, where WinVote is widely used, relates that AVS has failed to pay their bill for testing of their newest version of system. The testing lab has stopped testing and will not certify the system until they are paid. AVS is the same vendor who was just warned by the EAC for swapping out the motherboard in the new system without notifying either the test lab or the EAC. That notification is mandatory. If you have not seen the Dan Rather Report on voting issues the full program is now on-line. It is a powerful indictment of the vendors....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Complete, Disturbing Investigative Exposé, Featuring Troubling New Revelations About America's E-Voting Companies, Now Available in Full Online...
By Alan Breslauer on 8/15/2007 3:08pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

More information about the following report is available here. Since its airing, election legal watchdog Voter Action has called for a full Congressional investigation into the possibility of commercial fraud by the voting machine companies as based upon some of the startling information revealed in this exposé...

NOTE: As the original Google version of this report has been taken down for some reason, we are making it available here, in three easy to watch segments. Additionally, a complete transcript is now posted here, courtesy of Jerry Berkman.

Part 1 (30:09): Concentrates on voting machine vendor ES&S and their previously undisclosed touch-screen sweatshop factories in Manila...




Part 2 (8:07): Dan Rather interviews electronic voting apologist, machine tester, Michael Shamos...




Part 3 (26:25): The "HOLY COW!" revelations about Florida 2000 and the seven whistleblowers from Sequoia who reveal, for the first time, that "somebody" at Sequoia purposely used lower grade paper and misaligned the chads (for Palm Beach County, FL specifically) on the paper ballots used in that Presidential Election (see additional comments from John Gideon and Brad Friedman on this section below)...




UPDATE By John Gideon: The revelations in Rather's report from the Sequoia punch-card printers, that inferior paper was used in the 2000 election in Palm Beach, are stunning. It was all about corporate greed. Sequoia Voting Systems has a big anvil hanging over their heads and it is hanging by a thread. No wonder Smartmatic only paid $16M for Sequoia which had assets over $40M. The previous owners of Sequoia, De La Rue, wanted out and now Smartmatic wants out but who is going to buy Sequoia now with all of their liabilities?

ADDITIONAL UPDATE FROM BRAD: Holy cow! If you haven't seen this thing, you must. The second half of the program, after the stunning revelations of the ES&S sweatshop in Manila, followed by a mostly useless interview with voting machine apologist Michael Shamos, breaks some enormous news concerning Sequoia's apparent effort to create havoc with Florida's punch-cards in 2000. With seven company whistleblowers, all interviewed on camera, and by name, objecting to the company's use of faulty paper and then misalignment of chads, specifically for Democratic Palm Beach County only, this thing could lead to huge fallout.

The remarkable report --- for which Rather should receive some kind of award --- reopens 2000, as nobody at Sequoia is willing to cop to signing off on the bad paper and misaligned chads business after all seven employees interview had refused to do so. Who gamed that election? At whose orders? And doesn't that open up new questions concerning Clint Curtis' allegations that he was asked by Tom Feeney, prior to the 2000 election, to create software to rig a touch-screen voting system. Up until now, one of the criticism of Curtis' claims has been that "nobody was even thinking about touch-screens prior to the 2000 election. This report, and the fact that Sequoia was using touch-screens as early as 1998 in Riverside County, CA, may blow that wide open.

UPDATE 8/28/07: More details on the above update, and this report seals up yet another allegation of the formerly Republican whistleblower Clint Curtis, now here...

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Public Call Issued Following New Evidence Revealed by 'Dan Rather Reports' Investigative Exposé
By John Gideon on 8/15/2007 1:38pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

Today our friends at VoterAction announced an action alert to ask the United State's Congress to take action to investigate "the increasing influence and control that private companies wage in the way we conduct our elections and to determine whether certain US voting systems companies have committed crimes under federal and state anti-fraud statutes which should be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution".

VoterAction is asking that you sign a petition to congress.

Their statement follows on the heels of evidence revealed in Dan Rather's stunning investigative report on "The Trouble with Touchscreens" (complete video now posted here) and charges that the report "raises serious questions as to whether US voting systems companies have engaged in commercial fraud by knowingly marketing defective products to jurisdictions throughout the country."

Their full statement can be read here in html or here in .pdf and is also posted in full below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Speaking Thursday Night in Kirkwood After Screening of 'Stealing America: Vote by Vote'
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2007 10:28am PT  

If you're within driving, walking, running distance of St. Louis, Missouri, please consider coming out Thursday Night to the Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood (216 East Argonne) for an Election Integrity evening.

I'll be speaking and answering questions and heckles, right here in Thor Hearne Country, after a screening of Dorothy Fadiman's excellent documentary, Stealing America: Vote by Vote (which is being submitted for an Academy Award nomination, btw).

The sponsors of the free event, Missourians for Honest Elections, have also invited to speak both Thor Hearne, chief Bush/Cheney/GOP voter disenfranchiser and founder of the "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR), as well Paul DiGregorio, former St. Louis County Election Director turned chair of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) who parlayed those jobs into his current position at the ironically named Internet voting company Everyone Counts. Those St. Louisans, and several others currently serving on the county's Board of Elections have all so far declined the invitation to show up, speak, and answer questions.

So I guess I'll have to talk about them instead.

WHEN: Thursday, August 16, 2007. Film at 6:30pm CT, I speak at 7:30pm CT.
WHERE: Eliot Unitarian Chapel, 216 E. Argonne, Kirkwood, MO (map)
MORE DETAILS: Here and here, along with some kind words from the Fired Up! Missouri folks right here.

Hoping to help get folks "fired up" indeed, here at "Ground Zero" in Missouri. So please come out if ya can.

Here's an in-studio radio appearance I did yesterday with the great newsman, Don Marsh on KWMU, St. Louis' NPR station. Exit pollster and political scientist Ken Warren also joined us by phone for the 45 minute interview with callers, etc. St. Louis County Election Director, John Diehl was supposed to call in late in the program. He never showed. Go figure.

ReddIt this story!



Third Book in VOW Series to Cover First-Person Tales of Voter Disenfranchisement...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2007 9:22am PT  

Blogged by Brad from St. Louis...

Were you disenfranchised in some way in a recent election? Did you have trouble casting your vote for some reason? Or do you know someone who had such a problem?

If so, the "Voice of Witness" program would like to hear your story and allow you to tell it to the world, in your own voice, in their latest book in their series of first-person stories. The VOW series "allows those most affected by contemporary social injustice to speak for themselves" in order to "illustrate human rights crises through the voices of the victims." After two books, one on the wrongfully convicted and the other on victims of Hurricane Katrina, the next book in their series will be on voter disenfranchisement.

One of the project's coordinators, Miranda Yaver, tells The BRAD BLOG that they are "focusing on interviewing Latinos, Native Americans, Arab Americans, people who had issues in New Mexico in 2004, and people who had issues in Florida in 2000, although if there are good stories in other areas or elections, I'd certainly be interested in talking with those people as well."

She's asked The BRAD BLOG to help her get out the word about this worthy project, and we're more than happy to help.

If you'd like to tell your story, please be the media and contact Yaver at myaver@berkeley.edu. Or pass this article or that email address on to someone you know who may have such a story to tell, or who might know some folks that do.

For more details on the VOW series, see their website at www.voiceofwitness.org.

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By John Gideon on 8/14/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

The South Mississippi Sun Herald reports that election officials in Jackson Co are tired of having problems with their voter verified paper audit trail printers so they just want to remove them and sell them back to Diebold. One member of the election commission related that the printers get jammed up and chewed up and the machine quits. The commission considers the printer modules as being defective and unnecessary since the votes recorded on any machine can be printed out at the end of an election night. In other words, because Diebold makes a lousy printer to put on their lousy voting machines they should get rid of that printer and just keep the lousy machines. Also, today the EAC released a letter sent to ES&S accusing the vendor of not reporting that they are making their iVotronic DREs in the Philippines. ES&S must have forgotten about that....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Another Voting Machine Company, Advanced Voting Solutions, Also Caught In A Deception
ALSO - BONUS VIDEO: Dan Rather on CNN's Situation Room Tonight, Discussing His Report...
By John Gideon on 8/14/2007 1:45pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

As we reported on Sunday, Dan Rather's investigation of the voting machine industry is causing a stir. Apparently the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) decided that something in the Rather report did not match up with what ES&S had reported to them.

The voting machine company failed to disclose that their equipment was being made in a sweatshop in the Philippines even though they are supposed to reveal all such information to the federal EAC. In a strange fit of responsible behavior, the EAC has sent them a letter of reprimand (letter is posted in full below). Though the notice amounts to little more than a friendly slap on the wrist.

Similarly, the EAC has sent a letter to voting machine company Advanced Voting Systems (AVS), for secretly replacing mother boards in their systems without certification or approval. That letter is also posted at the end of this article.

An interview with Rather, earlier this afternoon on CNN's Situation Room, is now posted at right. Rather's startling report will be airing beginning this evening at 8PM EDT and will air on HD Net over the next few days. It will also be on-line for those who cannot get HD Net. We'll try to provide links as soon as one becomes available. Our report from Sunday included a disturbing 12 minute preview version.

UPDATE FROM BRAD : Kim Zetter at WIRED adds a few details to this issue moments ago, including this interesting revelation of some ES&S sleight-of-hand to hide their Filipino sweatshop...

ES&S did not respond to a call for comment. So I asked the EAC for the list that ES&S submitted regarding its manufacturing facilities. Here it is:

FutureLogic; Phoenix, AZPivot International; Lenexa, KS Ricoh Electronics; Tustin, CA Technical Support , Inc; Omaha, NE Xten Industries; Kenosha, WI

Notice that ES&S's list does include Pivot International, based in Kansas, but it does not mention that Pivot actually has the machines assembled at the Teletech factory in Manila.

The full letters from the EAC can be found here [PDF]. A text version of both are found below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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