24 March 2006

Sequoia / Smartmatic e-voting fiasco in Chicago

London 24.03.06 | Somewhat I feel vindicated. In August last year I posted an extremely thorough piece of investigative blogging regarding Smartmatic; the e-voting machines vendor, which owns Sequoia, that has proven so useful to Venezuela's wannabe dictator Hugo Chavez. The recent e-voting fiasco in Chicago comes to prove the hypothesis that one thing is to observe how rigged electoral processes in far away lands, which do not affect Americans, are overlooked, or simply ignored, by the mainstream media and an entirely different matter when similar problems corrode the transparency and outcome of elections in US soil.

As readers of this site know, Sequoia was acquired by Smartmatic in 2005:

Sequoia Voting Systems was the e-voting branch of De La Rue PLC, the "world 's largest commercial security printer and papermaker" (sic) [7]. De La Rue's 2005 preliminary statement reports the sale to Smartmatic thusly:

"following the strategic review in December 2004, we announced our intention to exit the business (added: of voting systems) by the year end and this was done through the sale of the business to Smartmatic Corporation, a US based device networking and election systems company. The business had revenues of £23.1m (2003/2004 : £44.2m) and made an operating loss of £0.2m in the year (2003/2004 : £(1.9)m)" [8, page 8].

It now seems that Chicago officials will withheld payments to Sequoia due to its appalling performance, saying that the company "did not perform adequately." What a wonderful development, isn't it? Of course it did not perform adequately, what were these people in Chicago expecting, transparency, performance, from a company linked to Hugo Chavez? Just like Venezuelan elections conducted with Smartmatic machines, it never had "performed adequately" it never will. That is precisely the point. Furthermore, European and OAS electoral observers witnessed how utterly unreliable those machines are, as demonstrated in Venezuela on November 23 2005 by Leopoldo Gonzalez.

The difference in Chicago though, is that there are still some officials exercising due diligence in the conduction of public affairs, and so the whole thing blew up in Smartmatic's face, as it would have been the case in Venezuela, had its officials any resemblance of integrity left and respect for democratic processes. Hopefully some party will sue Sequoia / Smartmatic for breach of contract and negligence, so that never again will that joint be allowed to provide 'e-voting solutions' in the USA.