Papers Released by the Company Prove Nothing, May Be from 2000 Primary Election in Florida Instead of General Election Where Malfeasance Has Been Alleged...
By John Gideon on 8/28/2007, 5:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.Org, with additional reporting by Brad Friedman

The latest set of documents released by Sequoia Voting Systems, in an attempt to clear its name after a recent damning news report, fail to answer any of the questions that the company had claimed that they would. Worse still, The BRAD BLOG has learned that the documents proffered by Sequoia may not even refer to the specific election about which new and alarming questions have been recently raised.

The day after damaging revelations about several touch-screen voting machine manufacturers was aired in a remarkable exposé on Dan Rather Reports, the Vice-President and lead spokeswoman for Sequoia Voting Systems, Michele Shafer, responded in a press release to the charges made, on camera, by seven company whistleblowers featured in the broadcast.

The charges included claims that the workers at Sequoia's paper punchcard ballot plant had been forced to use inferior paper stock for ballots that were created for the 2000 general election in Florida and, as well, they were instructed to misalign the chads for punchcards made specifically for Palm Beach County.

Nobody at Sequoia was willing to take credit for the use of the bad paper, even as the seven workers had, time and again, refused to accept delivery for the inferior stock which was ultimately used anyway. The company failed to provide documents to Rather's team, showing who it was who finally signed off on the delivery. And when pressed, Sequoia had given questionable "received" documents for the paper which didn't have anyone's signature, as the Sequoia Quality Control specialist interviewed said she would have expected.

Shafer responded in her statement by promising to deliver exculpatory documents to prove that Rather's report was all wrong. The documents finally produced late last week, do nothing of the kind...

Shafer, who has now also been named spokesperson for the Election Technology Council (ETC), an industry consortium lobbying group, began her August 16th release this way: “In what our company hopes will be the last word on one of the latest conspiracy theories to plague the 2000 presidential election, Sequoia Voting Systems is making quality control documentation for the production of Votomatic punch card ballots produced for Palm Beach County, Florida available to anyone who is interested.”

The press release goes on to say that certain documents would be posted on the Sequoia Voting Systems website in "the next few days." More than a week later, on August 24th, the promised documents were finally posted to links buried within the original press release.

Not surprisingly, the newly posted documents prove absolutely nothing, except that Sequoia is still hiding the truth.

Here's the way the updated press release describes the documents:

Quality Control Records for Palm Beach County Ballot Production

  • Paper Caliper Reports for Palm Beach Ballots (demonstrated proper paper thickness)
  • Chad Pressure Readings for Palm Beach County Ballots (demonstrates that the pressure required for chad removal was within the appropriate industry specifications for pre-scored punch card ballots)
  • Ballot Card Press Run Check List (demonstrates proper overall specifications for punch card ballots - signed by quality control within the plant)

The first document is a single-page of numbers. It does not demonstrate anything except that someone, at some time, put some numbers into a form. What is the proper paper thickness? Who took the measurements? What was measured? There is no way to know if this “evidence” is from 1986 or 2000, as the document is not dated, or if the readings were taken on paper that was used to print ballots for a county in Washington state but the heading was just changed. (Shafer has a record, as reported in a recent BRAD BLOG article, of changing historic documents without notating such changes.)

The second and third sets of documents are in the same file. The “Chad Pressure Readings” document is purported to demonstrate that the pressure for chad removal was within industry standards, yet the industry standards are not given. Though some of the reports include the name “Dave” in the upper left corner, there are no signatures on any of the documents.

The “Ballot Card Press Run Check List” is supposed to have been signed by someone in quality control, according to the press release. Yet there are no signatures on any of the check lists. In fact, there does not appear to even be a space for a signature.

Also of note are the dates on those forms which have a space for a date. They read either "8/21/00" or "8/22/00."

The problem, however, is that the Florida primary election in 2000 was held on September 5. The ballots noted in Shafer's documents were printed for the primary election, not the general election that was held in November. In fact, a phone call to officials in Palm Beach County corroborated the fact that the county would not have ordered their punch card ballots for the general election until after the primary election.

Did Sequoia give us documents for the 2000 primary election in place of the general election, the one for which it was alleged that the Sequoia workers were forced to create ballots on inferior paper with purposely misaligned chads?

If so, the company's misfired PR offensive seems to be a transparent attempt to hide the fact that the "Rather Report" was actually correct and Sequoia gave Palm Beach Co., Florida, punch cards that it knew would fail. The "evidence" supplied to counter the "conspiracy theory" fails to prove anything at all, but may be proof of more wrong-doing and obfuscation by the company.

The questions remain: Who at Sequoia ordered and/or signed off on the inferior paper used for the punchcards in the 2000 Florida Election --- the one that became a 36 day debacle of fights over hanging chads which should never have been hanging, and overvotes on ballots where chads might have simply fallen out due to the inferior quality of the paper?

Previous to this 2000 incident, the workers interviewed by Rather claimed they had been proud of their "defect free product." That all changed, however, just in time for the 2000 election. Sequoia needs to tell America "whodunnit."

A few hours after posting the above I received an email from a friend who has asked not to have his name used. He pointed out the following, which I totally missed as I was reviewing the Sequoia documents and picking the easy-to-reach fruit.

He pointed out the records dated August 21 or 22, 2000, that Sequoia put up on its website are otherwise curious. For example, these records appear to indicate two press runs for Palm Beach Job #67587, Runs #450 and #451, yet Sequoia produced no chad pressure test reports at all for Run #451. If each press run produced a similar amount of ballots, Run #451, for which Sequoia offered no chad pressure test results, might account for half of the punch card ballots sent under this job order to Palm Beach.

He then goes on to reveal that the chad pressure test reports Sequoia posted for Job #67587 Run #450 appear to indicate that many of the punch cards tested were from bins the numbers of which do not match the bin numbers for Run #450 on the corresponding Job #67587 press run check list. Indeed, one chad pressure test report for Run #450, that for August 21, 2000, at 7 a.m., appears to omit reference to the source of the punch cards tested all together.

And finally, a comparison of the press run check lists for Runs #450 and #451 further appears to suggest that Sequoia used one plate to produce the ballots for Run #450 and a different plate for Run #451, that the card measurements (specifications?) for Runs #450 and #451 might be different, and that the punch card ballots for each run could be differentiated from the other by reference to a black stripe on the Run #450 ballots.

Instead of giving us all the evidence we need to dismiss the Dan Rather Report, Sequoia seems to have given us more than enough evidence to prove that the report was correct and that Sequoia is hiding something.

Good job and thank you