Election Board Finds Sequoia Voting Systems 'Too Quick to Exonerate Self,' As Evidence Indicates Hardware and Software to Blame...
By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2008, 10:00am PT  

After failing to count votes accurately in a number of recent elections in FL, NJ, and D.C., a report has now been released by the D.C. Board of Elections noting that, as it turns out, Michelle Shafer, official mouthpiece for both Sequoia Voting Systems and the election industry's PR outfit, Election Technology Council (ETC), has once again been misleading the public about Sequoia's bad voting equipment --- both touch-screen and paper ballot systems --- and the fact that they don't work.

The D.C. Board released its report on its investigation into an incident from last month's primary where some 1,500 phantom votes were recorded on Sequoias tabulator after being uploaded from a paper ballot system. There should have been just over 300 votes, instead of thousands, from Precinct 141.

Shafer had originally claimed (as usual) human error and static electricity were to blame. When the incident was first discovered in September, Shafer told the Washington Post: "There's absolutely no problem with the machines in the polling places. No. No."

Turns out, Shafer lied. Again. As the D.C. report notes Sequoia was "too quick to exonerate itself and the equipment used in the tabulation process" and that "the evidence appears to indicate that there was a problem both in equipment (the server) and in the software"...

Last month, the Computer Security Group at UC Santa Barbara released a video showing exactly how to hack a touch-screen Sequoia voting system --- in such a way that even a manual count of the system's "paper trails" would not have revealed the hack. In 2006, just days before the general elections, The BRAD BLOG revealed how a yellow button on the back of Sequoia's touch-screen systems could be pressed in such a way as to allow any voter to vote as many times as he/she liked.

Sequoia is America's number three voting equipment vendor, allowed to do business in 17 states, including D.C. The same machines that have been failing spectacularly in recent primary elections will be used again, as is, in this November 4th's general election. Even the yellow buttons are still there.

The incident in D.C., however (as well as the one in Palm Beach County, FL, where their op-scan systems were unable to count the same ballots the same way twice!) was on one of the company's paper ballot electronic voting systems. From WaPo late last week [emphasis added]...

The report, released yesterday, says Sequoia Voting Systems, a California-based firm, "was too quick to exonerate itself and the equipment used in the tabulation process. . . . To date, the evidence appears to indicate that there was a problem both in equipment (the server) and in the software."

The report dismisses Sequoias theories that human error or static discharge, not defective software or hardware, was at fault when a cartridge from Precinct 141 added thousands of votes. It commits the special committee to examine the effectiveness of the three-member elections board and its top staff.

But those issues cannot be resolved before the Nov. 4 election, which officials expect will draw a record number of voters. The committees recommendations include actions to be taken Election Day.

A significant step is to train poll workers to persuade voters to use optical-scan machines instead of electronic touch-screen ones, although the primary night blunder has been traced to a cartridge from an optical-scan machine.

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