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Sequoia News


The nation's clearinghouse for election audit information!

   

Sequoia/Smartmatic


Insecurities and Inaccuracies of the Sequoia AVC Advantage 9.00H DRE Voting Machine PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Andrew W. Appel, Maia Ginsburg, Harri Hursti, Brian W. Kernighan, Christopher Richards,Gang Tan   
October 18, 2008
The AVC Advantage voting machine is made by Sequoia Voting Systems and has been used in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and other states. Pursuant to a Court Order in New Jersey Superior Court, we examined this voting machine as well as its computer program code. On October 17, 2008 the Court permitted us to release to the public a redacted version of our report.

Public Report: Insecurities and Inaccuracies of the Sequoia AVC Advantage 9.00H DRE Voting Machine (click here) This report was originally submitted to the Court on September 2 in the form of an expert-witness report by Andrew W. Appel. The Court has released this redacted version to the public. The version we release here, linked in boldface above, is the same as the Court's redacted version, but with a few introductory paragraphs about the court case, Gusciora v. Corzine.

Videos: Videos will be available soon, pending approval by the Court.

Frequently Asked Questions

What you need to know:

The AVC Advantage contains a computer. If someone installs a different computer program for that computer to run, it can deliberately add up the votes wrong. It's easy to make a computer program that steals votes from one party's candidates, and gives them to another, while taking care to make the total number of votes come out right. It's easy to make this program take care to cheat only on election day when hundreds of ballots are cast, and not cheat when the machine is being tested for accuracy. This kind of fraudulent computer program can modify every electronic "audit trail" in the computer. Without voter-verified paper ballots, it's extremely hard to know whether a voting machine (such as the AVC Advantage) is running the right program.

Read more...
Rep. Holt Statement on New Jersey Voting Report PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By U.S. Representative Rush Holt   
October 17, 2008
U.S. Representative Holt commended the New Jersey Superior Court for releasing today a redacted copy of the voting machine inspection report, "Insecurities and Inaccuracies of the Sequoia AVC Advantage 9.00 DRE Voting Machine."    

"As I indicated last week when the report was withheld at the request of New Jersey's voting system vendor, if it indicated that the voting equipment was reliable Sequoia would have been eager to see it published," Holt said.  "Now we know why the vendor wanted the report suppressed." 

Among other things, the report concluded that:

*    "Anomalies noticed by County Clerks in the New Jersey 2008 Presidential Primary were caused by two different programming errors on the part of Sequoia, and had the effect of disenfranchising voters."

*    "New Jersey should not use any version of the AVC Advantage that it has not actually examined with the assistance of skilled computer-security experts."

*    "The AVC Advantage's susceptibility to installation of a fraudulent vote-counting program is far more than an imperfection: it is a fatal flaw."

*    "The AVC Advantage is too insecure to use in New Jersey. New Jersey should immediately implement the 2005 law passed by the Legislature, requiring an individual voter-verified record of each vote cast, by adopting precinct-count optical-scan voting equipment."
    
"The State should take whatever action it can to detect and remedy these and other vulnerabilities and to provide back-up measures in time for the November election," Holt said.

Holt previously has urged the Secretary of State to deploy emergency back-up ballots to be used and counted as regular ballots in the election.

The emergency back-up paper ballots would be offered to voters if there is an apparent malfunction of the machines on Election Day. If an error is subtle and undetected, the voter would not be given the alternative
of an emergency back-up paper ballot. The voter can avoid using suspect voting machines by requesting and using an absentee paper ballot, by mail or in person, per regular absentee voting procedures.
New York: 50 Percent of Sequoia Voting Machines Flawed PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Kim Zetter   
July 17, 2008
This article was posted at Wired.com's Threat Level Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

New York state is in the process of replacing its lever voting machines with new voting equipment, but the state revealed recently that it has found problems with 50 percent of the roughly 1,500 ImageCast optical-scan machines (shown in the video above) that Sequoia Voting Systems has delivered to the state so far -- machines that are slated to be used by dozens of counties in the state's September 9 primary and November 4 presidential election.

Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, expressed frustration with the vendor, saying it appeared that Sequoia was using the state's acceptance testing process to find problems with its machines in lieu of a sound quality-control process.

"There's no way the vendor could be adequately reviewing the machines and having so many problems," he told Threat Level. "What it tells us is that the vendor just throws this stuff over the transom and does not do any alpha- or beta-testing of their own before they apply for certification testing. Then they expect that we'll identify technical glitches and then they'll correct those glitches. But correction of those glitches is an extraordinarily time-consuming process. And its very disappointing that this equipment is not ready for prime time."
Read more...
NJ Election Discrepancies Worse Than Previously Thought, Contradict Sequoia’s Explanation PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Ed Felten, Princeton University   
April 05, 2008
This article was posted at Ed Felten's Freedom to Tinker Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

I wrote previously about discrepancies in the vote totals reported by Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machines in New Jersey’s presidential primary election, and the incomplete explanation offered by Sequoia, the voting machine vendor. I published copies of the “summary tapes” printed by nine voting machines in Union County that showed discrepancies; all of them were consistent with Sequoia’s explanation of what went wrong.

This week we obtained six new summary tapes, from machines in Bergen and Gloucester counties. Two of these new tapes contradict Sequoia’s explanation and show more serious discrepancies that we saw before.

Before we dig into the details, let’s review some background. At the end of Election Day, each Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machine prints a “summary tape” (or “results report”) that lists (among other things) the number of votes cast for each candidate on that machine, and the total voter turnout (number of votes cast) in each party. In the Super Tuesday primary, a few dozen machines in New Jersey showed discrepancies in which the number of votes recorded for candidates in one party exceeded the voter turnout in that party. For example, the vote totals section of a tape might show 61 total votes for Republican candidates, while the turnout section of the same tape shows only 60 Republican voters.

Sequoia’s explanation was that in certain circumstances, a voter would be allowed to vote in one party while being recorded in the other party’s turnout. (”It has been observed that the ‘Option Switch’ or Party Turnout Totals section of the Results Report may be misreported whereby turnout associated with the party or option switch choice is misallocated. In every instance, however, the total turnout, or the sum of the turnout allocation, is accurate.”) Sequoia’s memo points to a technical flaw that might cause this kind of misallocation.

Read more...
Sequoia’s Explanation, and Why It’s Not the Whole Story PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Ed Felten, Princeton University   
March 20, 2008
This article was posted at Ed Felten's Freedom to Tinker Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

I wrote yesterday about discrepancies in the results reported by Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machines in New Jersey.

Sequoia issued a memo giving their explanation for what might have happened. Here’s the relevant part:
During a primary election, the “option switches” on the operator panel must be used to activate the voting machine. The operator panel has a total of 12 buttons numbered 1 through 12. Each party participating in the primary election is assigned one of the option switch buttons. The poll worker presses a party option switch button based on the voter authorization slip given to the voter after signing the poll book, and then the poll worker presses the green “Activate” button. This action causes that party’s contests to be activated on the ballot face inside the voting booth.

Let’s assume the Democrat party is assigned option switch 6 while the Republican Party is assigned options switch 12. If a Democrat voter arrives, the poll worker presses the “6″ button followed by the green “Activate” button. The Democrat contests are activated and the voter votes the ballot. For a Republican voter, the poll worker presses the “12″ button followed by the green “Activate” button, which then activates the Republican contests and the voter votes the ballot. This is the correct and proper method of machine activation when using option switches.
Read more...
Sequoia: A Step in the Right Direction PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Richard Brand and Ilya Shapiro, The Weekly Standard   
December 20, 2007

Last Month, Sequoia Voting Systems, the nation's third-largest electronic voting machine maker, announced that the company had been sold to private U.S. investors. This would be an unremarkable transaction except that the seller, Smartmatic Corporation, is a Venezuelan-owned company close to the government of Hugo Chávez. And the sale was forced by a belated investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). But for the unprecedented unwinding of Smartmatic's ownership--which almost did not happen--Chávez would be in a position to influence the outcome of next year's presidential election.

This is not the first time in recent memory that CFIUS, one of the federal government's most secretive entities, has made the news: The Bush administration's decision last year to allow Dubai Ports World (DPW) to operate several U.S. ports also cast a spotlight on it. Though reasonable people can disagree about whether port management would have changed one iota under the ownership of an Arab ally--actually the British affiliate thereof--the decision proved disastrous politically and led to a very rare thing in Washington: real reform.

The Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007 (FINSA) went into effect in late October. This new law, which passed with broad bipartisan support, overhauls the previous rules governing CFIUS, a multi-agency committee chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury and tasked with reviewing certain foreign investments for national security concerns.

This august committee, originally created by President Ford's executive order in 1975, receives notices of foreign mergers and acquisitions and decides whether they should further investigate potential security issues. Unless the acquirer acts on behalf of a foreign government, these notifications are voluntary--an acquirer might want an official imprimatur for public relations purposes--though agency members of CFIUS can also call for reviews. CFIUS can block a transaction, however, only if it finds evidence that the controlling foreign entity might use the takeover to threaten national security.

During the past few years, CFIUS has been widely criticized not only for mishandling Smartmatic and DPW, but also for approving the transfer of advanced nuclear technology to China. FINSA fixes several aspects of CFIUS.

For one thing, the legislation makes clear that the committee's mandate to review risks to "national security" encompasses transactions beyond sensitive technologies with potential military application.

Smartmatic had argued that its acquisition of Sequoia was outside the scope of review because voting machines do not directly implicate national security. FINSA leaves no doubt that CFIUS's authority is much broader--and would cover investigations of foreign purchases of such "critical infrastructure" as ports and voting machines. 

 

Read the Entire Article at The Weekly Standard

Smartmatic Announces Sale of Sequoia Voting Systems PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Rep. Carolyn Maloney Press Release   
November 08, 2007

Rep. Maloney Shined Congressional Spotlight on Questionable Deal, Helped Enact Tough Reforms to Strengthen Oversight of Foreign Investment

Smartmatic, the voting machine firm with ties to the Venezuelan government, today announced that it is divesting ownership of the voting machine company Sequoia Voting Systems. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) shined the congressional spotlight on the Sequoia purchase last year by Smartmatic because it posed serious national security concerns about the integrity of our elections. Last year, Smartmatic decided to sell Sequoia rather than complete an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the government entity charged with ensuring the safety of foreign investment in the U.S. (To read the official Sequoia sale announcement click here.)

“I am relieved by the news of this sale – it was a long time coming,” said Maloney. “The integrity of our voting machines and elections is vital to national security. Given all of the past uncertainty and anxiety surrounding electronic voting, it’s nice that voters will have this added reassurance."

Read more...
Sequoia Voting systems announces New Corporate Ownership PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Sequoia Press Release   
November 08, 2007

Sale Creates 100% American-Owned and Independent Company

Leading voting technology provider Sequoia Voting Systems is pleased to announce the sale of the company to a group of private U.S. investors led by Sequoia's current executive management team.

"Sequoia is an innovative company with a century-long history; hard-working and talented employees; proven products; a solid balance sheet; essentially no debt, a corporate structure that provides flexibility; an extensive customer base and a very bright future,"
said Jack Blaine, Sequoia President & CEO. "I am very excited and hopeful about the tremendous possibilities and numerous opportunities that lay ahead for Sequoia given the company's new structure and the completion of this sale process."

The investment group, led by Sequoia President & CEO Jack Blaine and company Chief Financial Officer Peter McManemy, purchased Sequoia from former parent company Smartmatic Corporation for an undisclosed sum. As with most transactions involving two private entities, the specific terms of the sale are not being disclosed. However, this transaction does include investment by the management team, a small loan and an
earn-out. This scenario provides an excellent financial structure for Sequoia to leverage and completely eliminates Smartmatic's ownership, control and operational rights of any kind in Sequoia.

Read more...
EAC Notice of Sequoia Non-compliance PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Election Assistance Commission   
September 11, 2007

The following letter was sent to Sequoia Voting Systems by the Election Assistance Commission on September 11, 2007.

 

Dear Mr. Smith:

It has come to the EAC’s attention that Sequoia Voting Systems has contracted with more that one Voting System Test Laboratory (VSTL) for the testing of its Sequoia Voting System-WinEDS version 4.0.34. This practice is inconsistent with the disclosure made on your Application for Voting System Testing and violates the requirements and procedures of the EAC Testing and Certification Program.

As you know, EAC’s Certification Program requires manufacturers to identify the EAC
VSTL it has selected to perform testing. The selection of a VSTL is performed at the start of the certification process and must be noticed to the EAC on the Application for Voting System Testing (Form EAC 002C). Specifically, the Manufacturer’s application must provide for the “[s]election and identification of the VSTL that will perform voting system testing and other prescribed laboratory action consistent with the requirements of this Manual.” (Certification Program Manual, Section 4.3.1.2., Selection of Accredited Laboratory). Additionally, the Manual states that “[o]nce selected, a Manufacturer may NOT replace the selected VSTL without the express written consent of the Program Director. Such permission will be granted solely at the discretion of the Program Director and only upon demonstration of good cause.” (Certification Program Manual, Section 4.3.1.2., Selection of Accredited Laboratory (emphasis in original)).

Read more...
Sequoia Voting Systems Responsible for 2000 Presidential Debacle? PDF  | Print |  Email
Sequoia Voting Systems
By Kim Zetter   
August 20, 2007

This article was published on the Wired: Threat Level blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

 

It's been seven years since pregnant and dangling chads in Florida caused one of the biggest political rifts in U.S. history. Those faulty Florida ballots also directly led to the passage of federal legislation in 2002 that outlawed punch-card voting machines and allocated billions of dollars in federal funds for states to purchase expensive new electronic voting machines.

 

Now new questions are being raised about who was responsible for the faulty punch cards in that election. And according to last night's Dan Rather Reports episode, the fingers point to Sequoia Voting Systems, which not only makes e-voting machines that replaced punch cards but also created the punch cards that failed in Florida.

 

Rather and his producers spoke with several former workers of Sequoia who revealed that in 2000 the company changed the paper stock it used for punch cards to paper made by Boise Cascade and that they knew before the election that the punch cards that Sequoia was producing would cause problems. In fact, pre-election testing by Sequoia showed that the cards were not punching cleanly and that dangling chads were going to be a likely problem in the election. The original transcript from the Rather program is difficult to read because it lacks punctuation and paragraph breaks, but I've added paragraph breaks here so you can understand more clearly what the workers told Rather. You can also watch the entire Dan Rather report, The Trouble with Touch Screens, here.

Read more...
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