Slams Foreign Ownership of Sequoia Voting Systems, Private Ownership, 'Trade Secret' Privileges of ALL Such Companies!
ALSO: CNN's Jack Cafferty Asks, 'Do you trust the honesty of America's election process?'
By John Gideon on 6/6/2006, 7:31am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

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Yesterday on the Lou Dobb's Show on CNN, Lou's crack reporter, Kitty Pilgrim did the second of a two-part (with more to come we hope) report on the ownership of Sequoia Voting by a foreign conglomerate that is directly owned by Venezuelan nationals with direct ties to the Hugo Chavez regime.

It was fun to see Lou all blustery and nearly spitting as he decried the fact that the US government had allowed a foreign owned company to buy a company that supplies voting machines to states and counties.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHT FROM BRAD: It should also be pointed out here, when the questions/concerns about Sequoia's ownership are raised, that it's no different from the "local" privatized ownership of all of the other companies, such as Diebold, ES&S, etc. They are equally, if not more, partisan and their privatized (and secretized) ownership of our public elections should be of equal concern to Lou Dobbs, and all other, mostly rightwingers, who are suddenly concerned about the ownership of Sequoia!

A transcript of the show follows but a lot is missed if you cannot watch the video above.

Also Jack Cafferty asked about the honesty of the election process in his "Cafferty Files" segment on CNN's "Situation Room".

UPDATE: Tonight on Lou Dobbs - Warren Stewart, Legislative Director from VoteTrustUSA and a poll worker in the Bay Area in CA. and Avi Rubin, Computer Scientist and possibly a poll worker again this year in Maryland.

Text transcripts from both of yesterday's segments follow?

Lou Dobbs rush transcripts:

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Smartmatic, based in Boca Raton, provides voting machine in local elections in the United States, like this election in Chicago in March.

But Smartmatic has only five-to-seven people working in Boca Raton, Florida. Smartmatic is a labyrinth of international holding companies owned by Venezuelan businessmen. Smartmatic Group NV of Curacao, Netherlands, Antilles --- owns Smartmatic International BV of Amsterdam, Netherlands, owns Smartmatic Corporation of Florida, which bought Sequoia Voting Systems of California, USA, in 2005.

When Smartmatic bought the U.S. voting machine company Sequoia in 2005, the U.S. government did not review the sale. In discussions with this program today, Smartmatic lawyers admitted, "We were contacted by Treasury about a week ago, and we have provided documents over the last few days."

The big worry for U.S. elections is Smartmatic and other voting machine companies are private companies. They have proprietary software that they can call a trade secret. Electronic voting experts with extensive experience say it's nearly impossible to verify if a proprietary system is tamper-proof.

DOUGLAS JONES, ASSOC. PROF., UNIV. OF IOWA: All of the voting system vendors in the United States are private companies. The problem is the closed-door proprietary nature of the process. The closed system we have right now makes it extremely hard to find out what's going on, and that means that should a thief get in a position of power, we would never know.

PILGRIM: Some voter watchdog groups and others in congress are calling for a full review and say the ownership of all electronic voting companies should be reviewed to determine if it poses a risk to U.S. elections.

The U.S. Treasury Department today would not confirm or deny if a so-called CIFIUS review is under way on Smartmatic.


The U.S. Treasury Department tells us they can review documents for months, even weeks before a 30-day formal review can begin, and then the agency can decide to extend that for another 45 days. What they say they can't tell us is if they are looking into Smartmatic, but that's something the company itself admitted to us today, Lou.

DOBBS: That they were not reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States?

PILGRIM: When they were bought ---

DOBBS: That no one at the Treasury Department, no one in this federal government took one look at this transaction.

PILGRIM: They absolutely did not.

DOBBS: And meanwhile, the election people in the federal government have no concept of who they are doing business with, how in the world it will work, whether or not they can assure us that this election in mid-terms in nearly every state is accurate and verifiable.

PILGRIM: In fact, the Chicago officials admitted to us that they thought they were dealing with a Florida, U.S. company.

DOBBS: Well, we know what we're dealing with, and it is a dysfunctional government that is trying to render our elections precisely the same. Kitty, thank you very much, as we will continue reporting on what is an outright threat to our democracy, to the integrity of our voting system, and to our elections process. Thank you, Kitty.

And The Cafferty File:

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Especially when I'm here.

Electronic voting machines are under attack. No surprise given the controversy over the outcomes of the last two presidential elections. And now, as the primary season begins to heat up --- in fact, voters are going to the polls in eight states tomorrow --- lawsuits have been filed in six states to block the purchase or use of these computerized electronic machines.

The arguments against the machines include these: they're vulnerable to software tampering, they don't keep an easily recountable printed record, and they may miscount, switch or not record votes at all. Other than that, they're great.

Defenders of these machines say that most of the problems occur because of hasty setup or poor training of poll workers. What's the message there, that it's OK as long as it's one of those two reasons?

About one third of the U.S. counties use some electronic systems. This is a significant increase since 2000, the presidential election, and the Florida ballot recount. The rest of the country, though, still uses hand-counted paper ballots and lever-type voting machines.

So the question is this: Do you trust the honesty of America's election process?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to

BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File" --- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, as primary season heats up and voters go to the polls in eight states tomorrow, lawsuits have been filed in six states to block the purchase or use of electronic voting machines.

The question we asked, is do you trust the honesty of America's election process?

Michelle writes from San Antonio, Texas: "Let me tell you about voting in my state's primary in March. There I stood in front of the electronic voting machine while the poll worker told me how to use it. When he was finished, I asked, 'How do I know when I press the button, my vote gets counted as I intend?' He stared at me with a puzzled look, not knowing what to say. Finally, he said, 'Trust, I guess.' Well, that's not good enough.

Pat in Pincianna, Florida: "First, I don't think --- I think we need to shut down Diebold" --- that's a voting machine company --- "so we don't have to worry about unverifiable counts. Then we need to go back to a paper ballot or any low tech system that's harder for the crooks and gives us a real paper trail to follow."

Richard in Union City writes, "I trust my vote is counted. If you begin to think it doesn't count, then you become too cynical and you stop voting."

Skylar in Coconut Creek, Florida: "I trust the honesty of the process. I just don't always trust the honesty of the people who are overseeing the process."

Gerald in Tampa, Florida: "I live in Florida and I feel like I'm voting on an Etch-a-Sketch machine. We have a law that prohibits a paper trail. Why did our legislature think that was a good idea?"

And Rick in San Diego writes, "Sure, I believe our vote counting system is honest. If you don't believe me, just ask President Gore" --- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you very much.