Some of the worst news possible for the security of U.S. elections came a year ago, and somehow I missed it. In March 2005, Smartmatic, a company based in Venezuela, purchased Sequoia Voting Systems, a company which makes electronic voting equipment.
What’s the big deal? Sequoia’s systems are just as insecure as Diebold’s, with irregularities being reported this week in Pittsburgh and Chicago. And the parent company, Smartmatic, whose machines were used in Venezuela’s 2004 recall election, still refuses to answer questions over the results of that election.
Let’s look at Venezuela’s elecction for a minute. Richard Brand writes about the national security threat posed by the Smartmatic/Sequoia merger:
When the vote finally came, exit polls by New York’s Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates showed Chávez had been defeated 59 to 41 percent; however, when official tallies were announced, the numbers flipped to 58-42 in favor of Chávez. Venezuela’s electoral council briefly posted machine-by-machine tallies on the Internet but removed them as mathematicians from MIT, Harvard and other universities began questioning suspicious patterns in the results. — Miami Herald
Read the whole thing for more on Smartmatic and its ties to Venezuela and the Chávez government.
Closer to home, Sequoia’s voting machines are coming under fire for irregularities found during testing in Pittsburgh. A voting machine examiner there was able to turn a handful of votes into thousands and malicious parties could reproduce the problem even with the fix that Sequoia applied to the machines. The machines also had audit trail problems during testing.
It turns out that the audit trail problem was just one tiny example of how unstable and poorly written Sequoia’s voting software is. Last week in Chicago, voting machines experienced a wide variety of problems, from jammed printers to malfunctioning touch screens to just about everything else imaginable.
This is quite interesting. Those failing machines used in last week’s Chicago elections were just on loan, and are going to Clark County, Nevada, and Clark County’s old machines went to Allegheny County, Pa., which, you guessed it, are the same ones described above which let malicious parties rig elections.
So you have one of the big three voting machine companies in the U.S. under the control of Venezuela, and already widely suspected of election fraud, another (Diebold) which just doesn’t care about security, and I guess I’m going to have to take a closer look at ES&S now, and see what their major malfunction is.
Props to Cybercast News Service reporter Sherrie Gossett.