From Paul Lehto:
Proved or not, this Dan Rather report is certainly the most significant new reporting on Florida 2000’s chads in a long time….See below.
The reporting about Florida punchcards is indeed persuasive. He should get a Pulitzer Prize unless proven wrong. It’s new to the debate about Florida 2000 to me (and so says the report) so it would seem incumbent upon any interested in Florida 2000 to see the video’s second half, on Sequoia’s provision of knowingly defective punchcard ballot stock for the 2000 presidential election in Florida, as alleged by a group of 7 former employees of Sequoia, one of the nation’s foremost paper forensics experts, and Dan Rather’s report.
DISCLOSURE: Though I personally sued Sequoia and succeeded in helping the Snohomish County Council remove the touchscreens from use for all nondisabled voters, Sequoia still mentions on its website an “uninterrupted” success in installations, and mentions Snohomish as a flagship installation, despite the January 2006 vote of the Snohomish County Council to terminate touchscreen use in polling places for nondisabled voters as of 9-06, which then happened…. (screen shots were taken today of these misrepresentations)
In any case, links are provided below to the full video and transcripts available by Rather so you can judge for yourself if I’ve accurately summarized the bombshells below.
In sum, the assertions of 7 former Sequoia employees that it was insisted by sequoia mgmt that inferior quality paper be used in Florida ballots on account of “humidity” but not in any other hot states like Louisiana and others, are backed up by a forensics expert Walter Rantanen: The paper used in Florida for 2000 Sequoia ballots is NOT the paper it was supposed to be. The employees say it was rejected paper, that specifically tested by gang punch to create inferior punching characteristics, with high incidences of problem chads relative to the correct paper being used….
In a separate post here, Mark Lindeman goes on to pronounce himself without sufficient information regarding certain aspects relevant mostly to outcome-determination and extent of harm by Sequoia in Palm Beach County, but it should be remembered that Dan Rather’s report never attempts to do a “changed outcome” analysis for 2000. Perhaps Rather recognizes that this inherently leads to partisan stalemate by interested parties on both sides of the partisan fence, greatly assisted by the formation of “battle of the experts” dynamics. Dan Rather instead takes a “product defect documentation” approach toward both ES&S and Sequoia, and in that respect the case appears quite solid.
The partial documents provided to Rather for the report were, Rather says, represented by a Sequoia PR firm to be complete and accurate. Apparently, more docs have now been found by Sequoia. Nevertheless, it appears to me that the gravamen of Sequoia’s response (to assert that additional quality control docs exist and will be produced) is already responded to in the original report, which alleges both that those reports never completely existed, and in significant part were forgeries at the time (with respect to genuine shipping bills). Regardless of those quality control docs, the Dan Rather report has the testimony of Walter Rantanen, a top forensics expert on paper, who says the Palm Beach Ballots WERE NOT from the paper sources they purported to be. This would seem to defeat any and all quality control documents, unless the chain of custody of the paper were proven false, and there’s info on that in the movie as to how it was obtained.
But for those who didn’t see it, in the second half of the documentary, seven former Sequoia employees who worked around the 2000 election in the manufacture of punchcards, collectively possessed of 162 years of work experience as controllers, pressman, trainers, and quality control all appeared on camera as a group, and collectively said some very remarkable and seemingly damning things.
There are 3 quick bullet point summary sections below, first the background assertions of fact by Rather, second the 7 employee group’s experience, facts and conclusions, (none of which were contradicted by any members within the group who were all in a position to respond) and finally, the conclusions of the Rather documentary.
Paul Lehto’s conclusion: Resolving any remaining inferences in favor of Sequoia, it’s debatable the EXTENT of disfranchisement harm, but it seems virtually assured that disfranchisement occurred via defective paper for chads in Florida 2000, likely quite extensive in amount. All the “quality control” reports in the world won’t overcome at least the serious and grave questions of fact presented by 7 former longtime Sequoia employees and the forensics expert, which unless rebutted conclusively establish the most direct evidence, and establish that defective paper provided by sequoia produced defective punching patterns and hanging chads in Florida 2000, which was followed by huge sales increases in dollar terms as punchcards were replaced by touchscreens and optical scan systems in Florida and around the nation.
Paul Lehto (further): BTW, the market is judging these computerized vendors, and finding them without substantial value. Diebold was recently rejected by its parent company and spun off as “Premier” Election Systems after a buyer could not be found. Sequoia has been for sale now for eight months now, as confirmed by VP Michelle Shafer of Sequoia, and IMHO if it doesn’t change its tune on Snohomish County and claims of “uninterrupted” installations it may be open to securities fraud accusations in the event it does sell its stock via the parent company, Smartmatic (owned around 90% by Venezuelan shareholders, but a Florida corp), without adjusting the representations on its website about “uninterrupted” installations or in the contract for sale. (I’ve litigated a couple securities fraud cases, FWIW) For years, Sequoia’s website falsely claimed its machines were “100% accurate, secure and reliable” which has repeatedly been proven false, most recently in California Red Team reports.
Without more adieu:
FACTUAL ASSERTIONS BY RATHER:
1. Over 50,000 Sequoia punch cards statewide in Florida were discarded as invalid because voters appeared to have overvoted. In fact, on fully 17,000 of the Sequoia cards, voters seemed to have voted for three or more presidential candidates ! Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County alone over 10,000 voters had not voted for president at all. (Mark Lindeman mentions his uncertainty as to what was Votomatic and what another brand, but that dissection only shifts the locus of perhaps part of the problem, but doesn’t overcome Rantanen’s testing necessarily) Even if all Sequoia ballots remained unused in Florida (a preposterous assertion), Sequoia still sent out a defective product for use in the 2000 presidential election that had ‘bad chad’ characteristics due to defective paper, per the bel
2. John Ahmann, cited as the biggest punch card expert in the United States says that Sequoia Pacific made the best voting ballots anywhere, up til Florida at least. The Sequoia employees below all prided themselves over the years in producing a “no defect product”
3. Dan Rather: [Å ] We asked Sequoia to provide a complete set of shipping documents that would prove its version of events. They didn’t provide all the shipping documents, and what they did give us only raised more questions for someone who knew the company’s business inside out. (Suzy Keller then interviewed, former controller, see below)
Seven Sequoia employees with 162 years combined experience at Sequoia, talk as a Group and blow the whistle:
EMPLOYEES: Tom Ayers: at Sequoia for 33 years, shipping and receiving foreman. Giles Jensen: worked for Sequoia Pacific for 25 years, several positions in management. Suzy Keller: controller, for 25 and a half years. Greg Smith: pressman trainer, for 32 years. E. Washington: pressman, for 26 years, Cy Turner: pressman, for 13 years. Linda Evans: quality control, for 7 or 8 years.
EMPLOYEES: In 1999, two things changed: the maker of the paper (to Pacific NW Boise Cascade) and employees no longer able to reject bad paper as before.
EMPLOYEES: Several Employees refused to sign off on paper, the next day it would be signed off for them. Rejected paper came right back to them with Xeroxed labels rather than genuine ones, one time even a nasty note on the paper roll made it back to “new” stockÅ
EMPLOYEES: Suzy Keller is the former comptroller of Sequoia voting systems. She had been with the company for over twenty-five years when she chose to leave for another job shortly before the 2000 election. She reviewed for Rather all the (shipping-related) documents Sequoia provided. [Sequoia produced packing lists that were incomplete since without signatures, and the controller said so. Sequoia now claims it has more documents to be produced, but needs “days” to put it up on the web, Rather asserts these were asked for before the documentary airedÅ . and in any event a Sequoia PR firm represented before airing the documents provided then were “complete”]
In addition to Keller, says Dan Rather with respect to some documents stamped “received”: Ayers (former employee)
“was skeptical of them. He said that he had never stamped invoices as received, the company so far as he knows, didn’t even have such a stamp, all Ayers had ever done he says was sign and date the receiving invoices. We repeatedly offered Sequoia the opportunity to put any representative on camera to respond to these former employee’s allegations.”
Sequoia declined repeated offers for anyone from Sequoia to appear on camera.
“Walter Rantanen is perhaps the country’s leading forensic paper analyst. He works with top government agencies including the secret service and the F.B.I. working at his lab at “Integrated Paper Services” in Appleton, Wisconsin, Rantanen had a puzzle to solve: Were the Florida ballots made of Boise Cascade paper stock as Sequoia says?”
52:30 Walter Rantanen: This is the ballot sample for a fiber analysis. Rantanen analyzed the fibers in the Florida ballots. He discovered none of the cards had the composition of Boise Cascade tab stock, which contains softwood from the Northwest. He also sent Boise Cascade a Florida ballot sample. Boise confirmed the paper wasn’t theirs.
Rather Section headline: Sequoia: Intentionally misaligned ballots for Palm Beach County for 2000 Presidential Election
53:00 Dan Rather: But that wasn’t the last surprise about the Florida ballots. There were not only mysteries about what the cards were made of, but also the way certain Florida ballots were made. Mr. Washington, you had a surprising order from your supervisor when you ran ballots for Palm Beach?
E. Washington: We were told to run those cards short, because they would grow by the time they got to Florida in the humidity.
Dan Rather: Running short didn’t mean the cards were actually shorter. It simply means lowering, on the face of the ballot, the position of the chads. So the orders were for the ballots going to Palm Beach, don’t make them meet the normal specifications?
E. Washington: Right. Because they would grow, and if we met the normal specifications they would grow outside the specifications because of the humidity.
Dan Rather: Was this unusual?
E. Washington: Yep.
Dan Rather: Were you surprised by it?
E. Washington: Oh yeah, I questioned it, and I even had uh, the uh, plant manager sign it. Because I was having arguments with quality control about the size. And so I said, ‘The only way I am going to run it is if Brian comes out here and signs it.’ He came out, he signed the ‘okay’ card to run ’em.
Dan Rather: Let me get this straight. You said, ‘You are asking me to turn out a product that doesn’t mean our usual specifications. To be sent specifically to Palm Beach, Florida
E. Washington: Right
Dan Rather: ‘and I’m not doing that unless someone above me signs off.’
E. Washington: That’s right.
LEHTO SUMMARY OF RATHER REPORT POINT: NO HUMIDITY ADJUSTMENTS WERE EVER MADE FOR OTHER STATES WITH HEAT and/or HUMIDITY THAT SEQUOIA SERVES LIKE LOUISIANA and other states mentioned, according to the employee group with 162 years collective experience with Sequoia punchcards.
Gang-punch tests showed chad problems for 2000 Florida ballots that were reported to management, but they said “It’ll be okay” and did nothing
Because Palm Beach County released 200,000 unvoted ballots from 2000
all, tests could be done on that stock. Rantanen performed the tests: older Sequoia ballots, made earlier, for another county, punched perfectly, the Palm Beach ballots made for the 2000 election showed a troubling pattern: many cards showed clusters of hanging chads, primarily in the column that contained the presidential candidates.
Immediately after the election, Sequoia employees all talked and uniformly concluded/admitted they knew it was Sequoia punchcard problems in Florida, that were part of the issues, perhaps THE issueÅ .
EMPLOYEES: There were specific instructions from management to cover up everything on Florida at the plant, in preparation for post-2000 election plant visits:
E. Washington: Yeah, because the news people wanted to come in and talk to people and they wanted to tour the plant.
E. Washington: We were told to get rid of everything, anything that had Florida on it had to disappear.
Dan Rather: And did it disappear?
E. Washington: Yup. Nothing with any kind of Boise Cascade labels was supposed to be left around.
Dan Rather: And that word came from whom?
E. Washington: Brian Lehrman.
Dan Rather: Who was?
E. Washington: The plant manager.
CONCLUSIONS OF THE EMPLOYEES, BASED ON THEIR PERSPECTIVES, INFORMATION, EXPERIENCE AS WELL AS SPECULATIONS:
EMPLOYEES: (In the past) they weren’t having any problems with paper ballots. So, I feel like they, deliberately did all this to have problems with the paper ballots so the electronically voting systems would get off the ground, and which it did in a big way.
EMPLOYEES: following the 2000 election, Sequoia went from selling cards for pennies apiece to selling many millions in sales in Florida alone of e-voting equipment. Former Employee Keller concludes that it seemed perhaps Sequoia was “trying to force something here” and promote new touchscreen technology worth 3000 dollars apiece instead of punchards worth pennies or punchcard machines worth a few hundred bucks.
EMPLOYEES: The workers are also convinced that foreign ownership was part of the problem at Sequoia.
CONCLUSIONS OF RATHER’S DOCUMENTARY:
1. Millions of dollars worth of new touch screen equipment was thereafter sold in Florida alone.
2. The message from vendors is “trust us,” but the information we have been able to obtain suggests that trust has not been earned.
3. Citizens can’t force companies to prove that they take concerns about their machines and their ballots seriously, only Congress and courts with subpoena power can.
4. Vendors hide behind “trade secret laws” when citizens try to get to the bottom of how these machines, bought with your taxpayer money, either work or don’t work. However, because these machines determine who decides our laws, who runs our states, and who sits in the White House with the power to direct our armed forces, they are different from the usual examples of trade secrets like formulas for Coca-Cola, or McDonald’s special sauce.
5. A separate section in the first half of ES&S’s touchscreens is geared toward proving extreme quality control problems but without as many inferences or statements that such vote flipping from defective touchscreens is intentional, but due to 30 to 40% rejection rates for “pillowing” touch screens, and factory testing that literally was limited to a “shake test” as stated by an electrical engineer from the plant in Manila.
END OF TRANSCRIPT PARAPHRASES AND QUOTES
I can’t think of much more relevant to this elections list, since comprehensive reform of our laws was based on “hanging chads” and FLorida 2000 via the Help America Vote Act and its provision of over $3billion for electronic voting. Ambiguous chads and their ambiguous evidence of voter intent were “solved” vote counting under cover of corporate trade secrecy with no evidence allowed to be discovered, as in FL-13’s congressional election contest and other congressional election contests, including one I litigated where trade secrecy is also asserted (dismissal on grounds of exclusive House of Reps jurisdiction under Art I, sec. 5, in contrast with Florida cases in state court).
Juris Doctor, 1995