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...

In my response, I pointed out to her the following:

"Of course we both know that the EAC has not raised any issues with any voting systems that they did not certify; or none. Even the proven serious security vulnerability that FSU [Florida State University] discovered in the ES&S system has been ignored by the EAC simply because they did not certify that system. You also say the EAC requires that all voting systems receive extensive federal and state testing. I'm sure you know that is totally, factually incorrect. No state is required to purchase voting systems that have been tested. That's a state's right not a federal mandate. No federal mandate requires a state to test any system before they purchase it."

I fully expected that this was the end of the subject because Shafer made it clear, in her original email, that she was not interested in any follow-up when she stated, "I will not waste my time or yours trying to discuss this further, but I do at least want to provide you with factual information."

Much to my surprise I got a response to my response. Shafer thanked me for saying that I would make the correction. She then chose to correct the comment that I questioned. Remember the factually incorrect statement was in a press release from 8 months ago. Now, when errors are pointed out she wants to correct that graf. She says that the above graf should really read:

"The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has not raised any issues about Sequoia's equipment in the 2006 election. Additionally, the new EAC federal certification program which the EAC has taken over from the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) requires that all voting systems receive extensive federal testing. The majority of states require EAC certification (in replacement of NASED qualification) in addition to their own testing and state certification processes."

I wonder why Sequoia didn't give the facts back in December? Shafer's name is on the release so she must have read it, at least, and probably wrote it.

And will she, like us, be issuing a public correction and leaving the original error intact with a pointer to the correction on the original press release? She says, in her email (posted in full below) that "you are indeed correct that this does not read as it should and I will have our folks update it on our website."

Let's hope when the "folks update" on the website they make certain to note to the original error for full transparency, and note the time of the correction eight months later.

UPDATE 8/18/07: Sequoia has now changed their Dec. 22, 2006 press release as posted online. They did not, however, note the change. They simply scrubbed the original graf which had multiple inaccuracies, and then rewrote history with a graf to replace it. If Michelle Shafer and Sequoia are willing to change 6 month old public documents online without noting the change, is there any doubt they'd be willing to change/doctor 7-year old unreleased documents from the 2000 election as indicated in Dan Rather's report? And these are the people to whom we give billions of tax-payer dollars, to run our elections in secret. Disgraceful. Read on for details of the Rather business mentioned. - BF

But wait, that's not all. Along with the minor issue of my 4 month mistake was the inclusion of a link to a just-posted-today press release in response to this week's stunning Dan Rather report in which 7 Sequoia employees, on the record, told of the paper punch-card ballots created for the state of Florida being gamed with inferior paper and misaligned chads just prior to the 2000 election.

I suspect that this was the real reason for contacting me and I have agreed to include the link to her press release in today's "Daily Voting News."

One has to wonder what in today's press release will have to be changed 6 or 7 months from now once someone bothers to call her on a known inaccuracy. Of course Shafer attacks Dan Rather's producer, who, she claims, had tried to get other media outlets to air the report but they all refused. Of course she mentions Rather's complicity. Of course she mentions that Sequoia has evidence that the facts mentioned in the program are all wrong.

One of the pieces of evidence the press release mentions is "Ballot Card Press Run Check List (demonstrates proper overall specifications for punch card ballots - signed by quality control within the plant)." That's the 'check list' that the Quality Assurance person who was featured in the Rather Report said that she refused to sign. She said that she would refuse to sign the records each day, go home, and return the next day to see everything gone which she took as someone else signing the cards.

Sequoia has still refused to explain who it was who signed for those inferior ballots, and who it was that ordered that the chads be misaligned for Palm Beach County, resulting in the now-infamous "hanging chads." It was precisely that which the workers who testified in Rather's report were concerned about, and why they refused --- multiple times --- to use the inferior paper or agree to re-align the chads for Palm Beach County.

Perhaps in 6 or 7 months --- or once Congress or the rest of the media turn on some more heat --- Sequoia will have more changes that need to be made to today's damage control press release.

The email thread between myself and Michelle Shafter, Sequoia's Vice President, for Communications & External Affairs, is posted below...

Subject: RE: [DVN] - 'Daily Voting News' For August 16, 2007
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 22:12:28 -0700
From: Shafer, Michelle
To:

John -

Your statement, "Smartmatic has been looking for a buyer for Sequoia for over a year now" is incorrect. Please see the company's press release dated December 22, 2007 regarding Sequoia being placed for sale at
http://www.sequoiavote.com/article.php?id=82.

Additionally, please see our statement regarding the Dan Rather Reports story at http://www.sequoiavote.com/article.php?id=91.

I will not waste my time or yours trying to discuss this further, but I do at least want to provide you with factual information.

Thank you,
Michelle

Michelle M. Shafer
Vice President, Communications & External Affairs Sequoia Voting Systems
7677 Oakport Street
Suite 800
Oakland, CA 94621

phone: 800.347.4702
mshafer@sequoiavote.com
www.sequoiavote.com


From: John Gideon
Sent: Fri 8/17/2007 9:00 AM
To: Shafer, Michelle
Subject: Re: [DVN] - 'Daily Voting News' For August 16, 2007

Thank you for the email. I will correct my statement from "for over a year now" to "for over 6 months".

Re-reading that press release I notice you say, "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."

Of course we both know that the EAC has not raised any issues with any voting systems that they did not certify; or none. Even the proven serious security vulnerability that FSU discovered in the ES&S system has been ignored by the EAC simply because they did not certify that system. You also say the EAC requires that all voting systems receive extensive federal and state testing. I'm sure you know that is totally, factually incorrect. No state is required to purchase voting systems that have been tested. That's a state's right not a federal mandate. No federal mandate requires a state to test any system before they purchase it.

I will also post your other press release on "Daily Voting News". Thank you for pointing it out.


Subject: RE: [DVN] - 'Daily Voting News' For August 16, 2007
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2007 10:57:41 -0700
From: Shafer, Michelle
To: John Gideon

John -

Thanks for offering to post the SVS release on Dan Rather on DVN and also for agreeing to correct the time that SVS has been for sale.

As to your comment about our press release from December on the sale, I believe you are pointing to: "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" and you are indeed correct that this does not read as it should and I will have our folks update it on our website.

This should say "The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has not raised any issues about Sequoia's equipment in the 2006 election. Additionally, the new EAC federal certification program which the EAC has taken over from the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) requires that all voting systems receive extensive federal testing. The majority of states require EAC certification (in replacement of NASED qualification) in addition to their own testing and state certification processes."

Thanks,
Michelle

Michelle M. Shafer
Vice President, Communications & External Affairs Sequoia Voting Systems
7677 Oakport Street
Suite 800
Oakland, CA 94621

phone: 800.347.4702
mshafer@sequoiavote.com
www.sequoiavote.com