Monday, August 27, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Transcript from Dan Rather's show: The Trouble with Touch Screens
Dan Rather reveals the lack of quality control in manufacturing ES&S touchscreens and shocking new revelations about the Florida 2000 election.
Dan Rather talks to former workers at the Sequoia printing plant in California. The workers explained how they were ordered to send West Palm Beach inferior punch cards in the Summer and Fall of 2000. These cards were printed on poor quality paper and purposely misprinted. The cards were actually expected to fail during voting and counting, which they did. And Sequoia's workers were subsequently ordered to hide the evidence.
Clearly a series of conscious acts on the part of management at Sequoia Voting Systems, who ordered the sabotage of West Palm Beach's election, was part of a plan to sell its more profitable touchscreen voting machines. It was a coordinated attack from a printing plant in California on the election recount process in Florida.
The events that set the stage for our current voting system disaster.
Here is a copy of the HD.net transcript which I made more readable by changing the case and inserting some extra paragraphs:
Tonight the trouble with touch screens screens, even if it's just off a 1/4 of an inch it can throw a vote upper or lower to the other candidate and you have the wrong selection and you really don't realize it. The story of companies that built 1,000s of new age voting machines for elections all across America with touch screens that were unreliable we were rejecting at the time. Anywhere from 30-40% of the touch screens that came in, wait a minute, you were rejecting. At that time 30-40% of the touch screens you were getting in from Bergquist?
Also tonight, the paper trial. And I think that everybody's opinion was this: 2000 election was going to be our demise because of the poor quality that we put out the door. Workers responsible for making paper ballots that led to the Florida fiasco of 2000 tell their story for the first time. It's a sad state of affairs that it takes 7 years for somebody to actually ask the question to the people that might have
A special investigative report on the machines that count America's votes tonight on Dan Rather reports.
Good evening, from West Palm Beach, Florida. Nothing is more fundamental to the story of America, and what it means to be an American, than the vote. A free people, voting with the guarantee of a secret ballot, holds a privileged place among our most cherished civic institutions. Voting also represents an exercise in faith -- a faith that after one drops one's ballot in a box, or pulls a lever, or presses a button on a screen one's vote will be counted. Recent elections have sorely tested our American faith in the sanctity of the vote. Few places in the country symbolize this strained faith more than the building behind me - the Palm Beach county courthouse, scene of some of the fiercest fights during the 2000 election mess in Florida. But that contest seven years ago is by no means the only one that has raised questions and some of the measures that resulted from that episode - such as new voting machines - have spawned questions of their own.
Today (applause). I am proud to announce that I am a candidate for
congress for 2008! This is Christine Jennings. In November of 2006 she
lost the House race for Florida's 13th congressional district. But
Jennings, a Democrat, is already back--running again. I will fight
every single day for the privilege of being the people's
representative for district 13!
She lost the 2006 race by a only few hundred votes. But her defeat
made headlines, not because of votes counted- but because of votes
that may not have been counted at all. Mysteriously, 18,000 voters in
Sarasota County -about 13% of all voters there- appeared to have cast
no votes at all in the race for this seat in the House of
Representatives this rate of so-called under-votes was much higher
than for other counties in the congressional district.
Jennings didn't believe that thousands of voters had intentionally not
voted in her race. She blamed the touch screen voting machines and she
had her reasons. On the first or second day of early voting, we
started getting calls from voters telling us there was a problem with
the screen, with them trying to vote for me on the review screen. And
in addition, voters here called the Sarasota herald tribune, they
called the radio stations. Voters, we have hundreds of voters that
signed affidavits that said, " those machines did not work properly."
those " machines" were the " Ivotronic," touch screen voting machine,
manufactured by Election Systems & Software Of Omaha, Nebraska Es&S
which claims to be the world's largest election systems provider. Is
privately held. The company says that over 67 million voters cast
their ballots on Es&S equipment last November, in some 22 states. And
just after Election Day many voters in Jennings' race said something
wasn't right with the voting machines. When I went to review my vote,
the 13th district came up as I didn't vote. I went to check it and her
name wasn't there. I hit the square, the x came up, I continued voting
down to the end, went to the review page, it wasn't on there, it
wasn't there. It came up that Christine's vote did not go through. I'm
hoping that my vote did get counted. 18, 000 votes missing is a big
mistake and a big error for this county and it should be corrected.
Jennings sued the state and ES&S, saying the machines had
malfunctioned. She never conceded the race and filed an election
challenge with the U.S. House of Representatives.
Christine Jennings has made a career out of insisting that numbers be
right. She had started out as a bank teller in Ohio, moved to Florida
and eventually founded her own bank in Sarasota. Running for congress
was her first venture into politics the one thing that I want - it's
very simple - the truth, the truth about what happened in this
election Jennings' race wasn't the first time serious questions had
been raised about the Ivotronics.
Voters all over the country had complained that these voting machines
had registered their selections incorrectly. Besides Florida, problems
with recording votes on the Ivotronics were reported in Pennsylvania,
Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, And Texas. Just in the last
But there may have been a special problem in Florida in 2006. ES&S had
sent Florida election officials a memo that summer warning of a
software glitch that could cause misvoting-and saying the company
would fix the problem. Surprisingly, neither ES&S nor the state did
anything to resolve the problem before the November election. Sarasota
didn't even post warning signs for voters in the polls, which ES&S had
provided! Still, a state-sponsored audit concluded the Sarasota
machines had worked fine.
So why did 18 thousand people not vote in that house race? Many voting
analysts blamed a confusing ballot layout for the undervote but
Jennings wasn't buying it. Her case -and cause- led to hearings in
congress--. I am going to ask that the GAO and the National Institute
of Standards and Technology really conduct a top to bottom
investigation of these particular machines. Christine Jennings was in
attendance, bringing her local spotlight to a national problem. And
it's at the heart of our democracy and people from across this country
have made it clear to me they want to know that their vote counts and
they have encouraged me to keep this up so that we get to the place
that every vote counts.
Back in Florida, the Jennings race confirmed what some officials had
known for years. Gene Hinspeter has been an elections operations
specialist for Lee County- that's the Ft. Myers area-- for thirteen
years. He discovered a serious problem with the Ivotronic voting
machines in 2003, which he recreated for us in a demonstration. In
2003 we noticed there was a calibration issue with the Ivotronic touch
screen and we brought it up to the people that maintain our voting
equipment. And this is just a little example of what we saw. If you
select the first box, if it is off enough. It would make another
selection. It is not exactly where you make your selection at. As you
see, I am selecting the top box and this second box is highlighting.
Lee County returned all 1800 of its Ivotronics to ES&S to have screens
replaced, but problems continued.
For Hinspeter, the machines were a high maintenance headache. We
started out with two employees when we were doing punch card, and when
we switched over to the Ivotronic we basically had to triple our staff
because the hands-on is just so intense. You know before you let the
machine go out, you test it, you calibrate it, you check the date and
time. There's so many things that need to be done before it goes out.
It's not like you can just pull it out of the rack, throw it in the
booth and send it out. We have to bring in a team of people that cast
ballots on each one of these machines to make sure that it's working
properly. And even after all that, there were still problems it seems
like they will work today and tomorrow they might not work. I can use
ten of them in a test and then we will go ahead and get ready to send
them out after the test and we will check them just before they go out
the door and we will find that one is not working properly. So, they
are just unreliable in my opinion how could machines that had cost
taxpayers millions all over the United States be so unpredictable?
According to ES&S, there are 97,000 Ivotronic machines in use across
the country! Most of us use touch screens every day. From the ATM
machines to the latest in cell phone technology. They have to be
right. So what was the problem with these voting machines?
Our investigation of the ES&S Ivotronic took us not to company
headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska but half a world away.
These are the shantytowns of Manila home to the Teletech factory
where, since 1999, Filipino workers have been cranking out touch
screen machines that were used in Florida and other states.
Some workers came forward to talk to us, but were so afraid of the
factory owner that they would speak only from the shadows.
What was happening inside the plant? According to this employee and
many others exhausted Philipppino workers. Rushed production. Poor
It took us nearly two months in Manila to finally persuade one former
worker to talk to us in daylight. Eddie Vibar is an electrical
engineer who worked at the factory between 1999 and 2002.
Vibar says he worked on thousands of voting machines shipped to the
United States with what he says was virtually no testing done on them.
Originally, a fraction of the machines underwent a so-called vibration
test. And what was this quality control test for machines on which
Americans would cast hundreds of thousands of votes?
This manual shake-test, would have been a joke at any quality
electronics factory. But Vibar says that even this crude test was only
done on a fraction of the machines. Why? Because, Vibar says,
management didn't want to slow down production. But almost nothing may
have affected the workers- or the machines -- like the crushing heat
and humidity of Manila -- in a factory with only a few air
conditioners, often broken or turned off. Vibar recalls days when the
temperature inside rose to over ninety degrees.
Americans cast ballots for mayors, senators and even the president on
these vital machines! They cost some three thousand dollars apiece. So
how did they end up being manufactured here like this? Enter factory
director, Edwin Ching. The Ching family holds a majority interest in
the Manila factory - but also in this American company pivot,
international, a contract engineering firm in Lenexa, Kansas. In 1997
ES&S contracted with pivot international to make its voting machines.
The Chings may seem odd business partners for ES&S. The family has a
widely-questioned reputation in Philipppine business circles and
strong connections in top political circles. The Chings have been sued
in the Philipppines--and investigated there -- for their alleged
business practices, possible tax evasion, and shoddy real estate
developments. They have not been convicted of anything. Meanwhile the
family lives in seclusion behind the walls of their compound on
Vibar says that while the Chings made millions, their employees got
Some of the Ivotronic's components come from factories in Taiwan and
mainland china - but perhaps the most important component- the screen
itself- came from America's heartland -- the Bergquist Company In
Chanhassen, Minnesota. And it was the American-made screens-- that
began to most concern the Filipino workers, like this former employee.
Back in the states ES&S began falling behind in deliveries of
Ivotronics. Pivot sent an American, Landen Tuggle, from Kansas to
manage the factory. The factory was fairly dismal at that time. In the
basement area where we end up putting a lot of our materials, our
inventories and everything, I think I probably hauled 50 dump truck
loads of cats and rats and snakes and all types of-- debris Landen
Tuggle is known in manufacturing circles for his success upgrading
troubled factories of various kinds to first-class status. He says
that he eventually did just that in Manila -- but it took time. The
Filipino workers recall Tuggle as the first American to care about
them and not just the machines,
They came to Tuggle with problems about working conditions- but also
about problems with the machines, especially the screens.. After I got
over there-- it took me awhile to-- get the Filipinos to open-- up to
me. You have to understand the culture over there. Filipinos don't
wanna give you bad news. You know what I mean? So each time something
failed-- they not only hated it, they took it personally. But as we
got the lines set up and began the manufacturing-- they came to me and
said, "sir-- these are no good." I said, "What's the problem?" they
said, "sir, there-- the bubble-- they're pillowing." " they're
billowing." what does that mean? Pillowing. It means that the surface
of the touch screen, the plastic or Mylar surface, was not stretched
taut. It had a like a bubble or even rolls, two or three rolls to it
on the touch screen. Did you tell anybody what the Philipppine workers
had told you? Yes, I did. I got on the phone. We began to make calls.
. So, you were sounding the alarm as far back as 2001? Yes. We were
rejecting at a time anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the touch
screens that came in. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You were rejecting
at that time 30 to 40 percent of the touch screens that you were
getting in from Bergquist? -that's correct Jonathan San Pedro was the
production manager at Teletech from 1994 to 2004. He worked closely
with Tuggle as Tuggle introduced real quality control standards
Bergquist was alarmed, because of the significant numbers of defect,
or reject units that affected the because of the Bergquist
touchscreens. So someone eventually came over to the Philipppines to
help you address this problem. Oh, yes. Pivot responded immediately.
But they were or were not able to bring it up to top quality. Where
you had very few rejects. No. ES&S continued to produce thousands of
Ivotronic machines using the Bergquist screens. Did no one at pivot or
ES&S ever just say, stop this train. We're getting off. We can't
produce these machines at extremely high quality. Did anybody ever say
that? No. Unh-uh
Did you think about it at the time? Of course I did. Any idea how many
were shipped to the us that you feel were potentially defective? I
would say probably in the neighborhood of 15-16,000-- units. A great
many of them destined for Florida. Some of the writings about this,
say that the biggest problem was something called loss of calibration.
What is that? When you take the stylus. And you put it on the x.
Instead of making the dot there on the touch screen. Or where you're
where you're putting it. It would move off and move to a different
location. Showing that it thought the stylus was being touched over
here Jonathan San Pedro says that the more Ivotronic units the workers
produced, and the more they tested, the more calibration problems they
found when we hit our output target that time, which is they re
expecting to increase our capacity, we noticed that many units failed
the calibration test now, were pivot, ES&S and/or Bergquist worried
that this calibration problem might affect the proper recording of
votes? I don't recall anyone ever discussing that they were concerned
about votes. Well, we have a letter from-- Bergquist stating that they
were unaware of the issues with the problematic screens at the time of
Well-- that's simply not true. Did you say it was simply not true?
Yeah. Bergquist said the problem was not so much with their screens as
with the way the Manila plant was inspecting them. Tuggle disagrees.
Berquist said the plant in Manila didn't know how to inspect them.
(laughter) you're chuckling. Why is that? Again, that's simply not
true. Again, I had degreed engineers. You're talking about a third
world country but they had some good colleges there. My people were
very good - they were engineers. I had assembly workers who were
Tuggle admits some design problems with the Ivotronic, but he worried
most about the screens, and that, over time, they would fail your
story suggests, mr. Tuggle Bergquist and pivot and ES&S all knew that
there were potential defects in these screens. That could put the
accuracy of the vote by millions of Americans at risk?
Well-- I would say that based upon their calculations, they were all
taking the calculated risk that they would not deteriorate any
further. And it was very evident that that was a risk they were
willing to take. What about the risk at the voting place? You'll have
to ask them about that.
Executives from pivot, Bergquist and ES&S all declined to talk to us.
But they didn't decline to testify in a federal lawsuit and that's how
we found out what was really going on at all three companies a
critical legal document in the battle over Florida's touchscreens was
filed far from Sarasota, in the United States district court house
here in Minneapolis, in a case that almost no one has even heard
about. The case, Bergquist versus Hartford Casualty, began two years
ago. It seemed at first a simple dispute between a policyholder and
insurance company. Bergquist, the company that manufactured the
screens used in the ES&S Ivotronic was seeking reimbursement for costs
incurred in recalling and replacing thousands of potentially defective
touch screens, most in voting machines in Florida. An affidavit in the
case, recently filed, looks like just one more document in a mountain
of court papers. But the affidavit of dr. Patricia dunn, a former
materials scientist for the Bergquist company, was a bombshell. Dunn
discovered no data of humidity testing on the screens by Bergquist
even though they were telling customers the screens met certain
humidity specifications but when patricia dunn conducted her own
experiments at Bergquist they suggested that many screens would go out
of calibration over time, especially in humid places like Florida.
According to dunn, in 2002 she urged a recall of many Bergquist
screens from Manila but court exhibits suggest it was reports in 2003
of actual screen problems in lee county, Florida that was the tipping
point for management at Bergquist, ES&S and pivot.
Es&s, Bergquist and pivot all realized a major recall of screens
already installed in voting machines was inevitable but how to handle
this public relations nightmare? Court exhibits show ES&S flat out
nervous how could the screens be replaced without attracting the
attention of the press? Executive don conroy of Bergquist recalls
conversations with ES&S management " I think our discussions
immediately went to..
And theirs was...
We asked ES&S about the recalls the company acknowledged there had
been a problem, but says they fixed it by replacing or reworking the
effected screens. And, ES&S says, none of this ever prevented an
accurate vote count. Why? The company's story is that voters would
have noticed if their vote hadn't registered. But how could ES&S be so
sure? It could just be off a quarter of an inch, and this is what
Even if it is just off a quarter of an inch it could throw a vote
upper or lower to the other candidate and you have the wrong selection
and you really don't realize it touchscreen voting seemed questionable
enough to one official that -while Christine Jennings was still
waiting for the courts to act republican governor Charlie Crist of
Florida early this year reached his own verdict. He moved decisively,
proposing legislation to ban touchscreen machines which don't produce
a paper record of a vote well, I don't want my state to be embarrassed
anymore. As we know, Florida has been a state of note as it relates to
some elections lately, but I think it is important to make sure we are
able to recount an election if we have to. I would rather we didn't
-but if we are going to have to recount, it is nice to have something
to recount - like a paper trail. Republican governor Crist cited the
race of democrat Jennings in his decision to call for change I mean my
goodness, I live in St. Petersburg, that's my home in addition to
Tallahassee now, and Sarasota's very close to where I live, and there
was significant focus on it, and so, you know having the opportunity
when we go forward next year in '08, when that election will occur yet
again, as I now understand it, we'll have the opportunity to verify
the results and make sure that people can have confidence that every
vote is counted, that every vote does count. And what could be more
important in democracy than making sure that this precious act that we
commit, the right to vote, is one that we can have confidence in?
In court Christine Jennings is still trying to get answers out of ES&S
about the Ivotronic machines used in Sarasota--but with little
success. Was there no way to get simple answers? Florida's freedom of
information act is a powerful statute. The act has sometimes been used
to compel companies doing business with the state to turn over
information to the public they don't want to. Governor Crist thinks
the law should apply to voting equipment vendors. If there is a
problem with the machine, obviously accountability should apply. That
is just common sense. We are very proud of our sunshine laws and we
think that the company should be held accountable to the extent that
it doesn't violate their proprietary protection as it relates to trade
secrets of private industry but you know beyond that as much as
humanly possible we think needs to be transparent, needs to be
reviewed needs to be available to the public.
Another voting system is now on the way for parts of Florida - optical
scanners -from various manufacturers-- that simply scan and read paper
ballots where voters have marked their choices. Meanwhile election
supply warehouses statewide, stacked high with expensive touchscreen
machines, suddenly seemed like graveyards here are our touchscreens,
and this is what we use currently until next year and then we are
going to optical scan ballot so this is the past and the present will
be optical scan ballot lee county's new optical scan machines will be
manufactured by ES&S those optical scan units are now being made in
Manila. Workers at the factory there had some concerns about those
ES&S optical scan machines were used in one region of the Philipppines
in a scandal-ridden election in the late nineties. Allegations about
the unreliability of the ES&S optical scan machines and ballot
specifications led to a recount lawsuit that went all the way to the
Philipppine Supreme Court. The result? The Philipppines decided to
return to hand- counted paper ballots -and ES&S fell into disfavor
there, even as the company was starting to produce touchscreen voting
machines in Manila- destined for the United States.
We'll be back with more in a moment, so stay here with us
It all sounds familiar, too familiar. Taxpayers being asked to throw
out millions of dollars worth of voting equipment, start over again,
and pick up the tab. With no guarantee the new equipment will provide
a solution to the problems. Technology can often offer a solution to a
complicated process - in this case, accurately recording votes. But
technology poorly conceived, designed, integrated and tested is a
recipe for failure. In this instance, subsidizing the same outfits
that couldn't get it right the first time, giving them more chances
could lead to the further waste of millions upon millions of taxpayer
dollars. And just as important, the further loss of confidence in our
nation's ability to use technology to provide solutions for
mission-critical applications - none more important to our nation than
accurately recording each of our votes.
Now, back to a core question: was the rush to these expensive and
perhaps ill-conceived new voting systems necessary?
Our investigation took us into the heart of California's central
valley, to the tiny town of Exeter, where for over thirty years
Sequoia voting systems, at this factory, made hundreds of millions of
punch card ballots- up until 2003. . Punch card ballots dominated the
voting landscape in 2000. They were the most common voting system in
Florida. The system seemed idiot- proof. You simply took a stylus and
punched out holes- or chads, as they are known, and the cards were
then run through a computerized tabulator. Couldn't be simpler, or so
What really struck voting experts about the 2000 election in Florida
were the many tens of thousands of ballots that had overvotes or
undervotes for president. Where voters appeared to have voted for more
than one presidential candidate or none at all. Over 50,000 Sequoia
punch cards statewide 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.
Experts scrambled for possible explanations- confused voters,
confusing ballot layout- like the infamous butterfly ballot. But no
one was looking at the punch cards themselves.
We recently met up with a group of former Sequoia employees who
actually made the punch card ballots, who feel they have the real
answer as to what happened in Florida 2000- and why.
They have never had a chance to tell their stories. Until now. Thanks
for doing this. I appreciate each and every one of you being here.
Well first of all, tell me who you are and how many years you had at
Sequoia. I'm Tom Ayers and I was at Sequoia for 33 years. I was the
shipping and receiving foreman. I'm Linda Evans I was at Sequoia
pacific for 7 or 8 years and I did quality control. Suzy Keller. I
worked at Sequoia for 25 and a half years and I was the controller.
Giles Jensen. I worked for Sequoia pacific for 25 years and I had
several positions in management. Cy Turner. I was the pressman at
Sequoia for 13 years. Greg Smith. I worked at Sequoia pacific for 32
years and I was a pressman trainer. E. Washington, I was a pressman at
Sequoia pacific. I worked there 26 years. Well have you added up how
many years experience you have cumulative - total between you? A lot.
John Ahmann, the biggest punch card expert in the United States says
that Sequoia pacific made the best voting ballots anywhere. We took
great pride in the quality of ballots we put out-- there was-- no
leeway. It had to be right and it had to be on time. And they took a
great pride in doing that from top to bottom. Well, the company told
customers that Sequoia produced, and I quote, "a no defect product."
now, what did that mean to you? No defect? Punch cards would punch
properly. They would go through the card readers properly. It's a no
fault what they said. And they did it for years. They did it, these
workers say, until the months leading up to the 2000 presidential
election, when they say they saw many things changing, but none more
troubling than the paper itself the paper would come through the press
looking like it was doing-- like jell-o. It would just kinda-- and
we'd have to go throw away both ends of the paper cuz we couldn't run
it. The paper? The paper is a large factor in the quality of the
ballot. It's the flour for the bread. I mean you can't make good bread
without good flour. If you don't have good paper, you won't make good
ballots. Did you have input, you know, as rank and file workers in the
plant, did you have input on what kind of paper was acceptable and
what kind wasn't. Yes.
The policy was workers could reject rolls that were imperfect or
damaged and they often did send rolls out for salvage trying to insure
top-quality ballots. A pressman running a press could reject a roll,
kick it back to raw stock, say this roll was no good. We had rolls
come off in huge logs and they're marked by position when they slice
a, b, c, d, e, right about early 1999 maybe middle of 1999 started
getting rolls marked x and z we couldn't figure that out but man they
were terrible we had quite a bit of input but towards the end we had
no input whatsoever. So things changed. Yes they did. -absolutely
after 1999, it was all over. It was like we were all put on the shelf.
And your opinion didn't after that. Exactly.
What changed in 1999? The paper changed. They decided that they wanted
to go with a certain brand. And I think that everybody's opinion was
this 2000 election was going to be our demise. Because of the poor
quality of what we put out the door. For decades Sequoia had ordered
its punch card ballot paper from James River or International Paper.
The only mills that had traditionally offered voting punch card stock.
In 2000, the company switched to a new mill, Boise Cascade which had
virtually no experience making tab card stock. Workers say they were
told to stop testing paper samples. Traditional quality control
standards were relaxed. There were a lot of things that we were told
to let go. And there was card bins I wouldn't sign off. I refused to
sign em. They'd sit there overnight and they would say, " you gonna
sign em?" and I'd say " no." come in the following morning and all the
bins had been signed off and moved to the front. Which means they're
being made into ballots. Right. Which means someone else signed em off
and said let em go.
But the workers say the problems they were having with the paper went
beyond a mere change in suppliers. They say they were suddenly seeing
paper rolls that weren't clearly even Boise Cascade paper - because
these rolls had Xeroxed Boise shipping labels rather than genuine
ones. Where was all this terrible paper coming from? They say they
were baffled that so much paper could be so bad until one day- they
got a clue. One of the pressman is not here. Bob Krause. He had a
thing if the paper was real bad that he would write little nasty
letters on the side of the roll. Well, we got one of those rolls back
with the same letter that he had written on it. So, then-- that's when
it went through our mind that some of the paper was getting rewound
and sent back. Not only that. Mr. Washington says this roll, and many
of the worst rolls, had a Xeroxed Boise packing label on it. So let me
understand this. Your fellow worker, he gets paper he knows is not up
to quality? Yes. -so he marks on it? Yes. This is bad or whatever.
That presumably leaves the plant or goes somewhere and them it comes
back with one of these Xerox Boise labels on it and labeling? Yeah.
Did you know about this as well? Well, I had the same suspicions as
everybody else did as far as the paper. Felt that it-- it was rejected
and it was taken out of the plant and stored somewhere and then
relabeled and brought back. Well let's just go down the line is there
any doubt in your mind that the company was aware that the ballots for
the 2000 general election were being made with inferior paper? You
don't think there's any doubt that they knew that? No doubt. They were
told every day. Yeah. They were told everyday Sequoia management
insists that all of the paper used to make punch cards ordered for the
presidential election of 2000 came from a single shipment of some half
a million pounds of boise paper delivered directly to the Exeter
plant. But these workers suspect only a fraction of that paper was
actually delivered to the plant- and that the punch cards ordered for
the 2000 presidential election were made from that paper mixed with
defective rolls that they had rejected in years past.
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 was the former comptroller of Sequoia voting systems. She
had been with the company for over twenty-five years when she left
shortly before the 2000 election. She reviewed all the documents
Sequoia provided. Historically we wouldn't pay for paper without a
signed receiver. There's accounting disciplines that you follow.
Without signed receiving, you didn't pay for it. What we've got here
is the company put forward the documents saying that the documents
prove that all the paper ordered for the 2000 election 550,000 pounds
of this punch card stock was paid for and delivered to the Sequoia
card plant. Now, when you look at the documents, the questions in your
mind are what?
Why didn't somebody sign for the paper? There's no signed-- there is
no one signed that document saying that paper was received at Sequoia.
Was the punch card ballot paper that was supposed to be for the
historic 2000 election- never delivered to the ballot plant? You know,
part of it was-- I'm not gonna say every bit of it. I found, you know,
there was probably about 130,000 pounds that Tom did sign for. But,
the rest of it, there's no-- there's no signatures on the Boise
packing list-- on the roll list. There's nothing. Well, when you read
Sequoia's representation-- here of the documents, as a professional
you say it's complete and accurate? No. Not as an accountant. It is
not complete and accurate, I would not have signed off on that
invoice. And, so-- again, spell it out for me. What's missing? The
signed documentation that the paper was actually received. There has
to be a signature on there, and there is no signature. Did the paper
arrive or not? I can't substantiate that-- there is no signature on
those packing lists.
We also asked Tom Ayers the former head of shipping and receiving to
review the documents Sequoia produced. Ayers 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. They instead
communicated through a public relations firm that represented the
documents were complete. Suzy Keller was a financial and accounting
We also turned to a paper expert, with some of our unanswered
questions 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?
This is a 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 soft wood from
the northwest. He also sent Boise Cascade a Florida ballot sample.
Boise confirmed the paper wasn't theirs.
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? We were told to run those cards short because they would grow
by the time they got to Florida in the humidity.
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-- the normal specifications? Right. Because they
would grow and if met the normal specifications they would grow
outside the specifications because of the humidity. Was this unusual?
Were you surprised by it? Oh yeah, I questioned it, and I even had the
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. 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- Right-
and I'm not doing that unless someone above me signs off. That's
right. So you go to miss quality control and she won't sign off on it.
Nope. She won't ok it. So the plant manager came out and signed the OK
card for us to run em at those specs because that's something that
you're not used to doing. Had this happened to you before? No was
there any other area - did somebody say " Well these ballots are going
to Louisiana Or Texas Or Arizona?" Never according to these workers,
the combination of bad paper and incorrect ballot specifications for
Palm Beach was a recipe for Election Day trouble: a high percentage of
chads that might be misaligned, wouldn't punch correctly.
Chads that could hang, fall out, or get stuck. Any of these events
could cause a ballot to be discounted. Sequoia had a special quality
control machine to test whether those critical problems with chads
might occur on election night.
Linda Evans recalls the chad testing of ballots manufactured for the
2000 election. Chads were falling out. Chads were hanging up. We've
got a machine that it we call a gang punch, which in a sense punches
out all the holes at the same time. You slide the card in there and
you pull down the handle and it punches out all the holes. They
weren't punching out. They were hanging up all over the places. They
were aware of that. Oh, management was aware of it. We told 'em.
Ms. Evans says that management had a simple response to her warnings:
It'll be okay. But it wasn't okay, according to Evans and her
co-workers. They believe that the chad problems at the factory became
chad problems in Florida- causing at the very least thousands of
undervotes, due to hanging or stuck chads. There were over 10,000
undervotes in Palm Beach County.
Evans wonders--did some ten thousand voters really go to the polls
there and decide to skip the race for president in 2000?
We asked Evans if she could demonstrate for us the chad testing that
had led to her concerns. This became possible when last Fall Palm
Beach County released over 200,000 unvoted ballots left over from the
2000 election. We had a gang punch identical to the one used by Linda
Evans at the factory made by an engineer familiar with Sequoia's test
instruments. Rantanen met with Linda Evans at her home in Exeter and
they tested ballots together.
While 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.
The pattern was clearer in some precincts than others. It's the
morning after the election in 2000? You turned on the television, you
turned on the radio and you saw and heard about the mess in Florida.
Tell me what you thought. Let's start over with you. What'd you think?
Oh, man. Somebody blew it bad and I bet it was us. Well, I-- I knew it
was us and-- I didn't expect anything less than fiascos. Because you
knew you were dealing with bad paper. Because we were dealing with bad
paper and old tooling. I get a phone call. And it's-- the first one
was from my wife. She goes, "What you guys do?" I go, "What happened?"
she goes, "The ballots are bad in Florida. Palm Beach." so, then, I
hang up and then the next person calls me is my boss Jim Johnson and
he tells me, "We blew it. The ballots are bad in Florida. It's all
over the news and when you got to the plant in the days after the
election, what was the scene there? It was chaotic. They were moving
stuff, hiding stuff, get rid of this. Hiding stuff? Yeah, because the
news people wanted to come in and talk to people and they wanted to
tour the plant.
We were told to get rid of everything, anything that had Florida on it
had to disappear and did it disappear? Yes. Nothing with any kind of
Boise Cascade labels was supposed to be left around. And that word
came from whom? Brian Lehrman. Who was? The plant manager. We
repeatedly invited Sequoia to have Brian Lehrman on camera to answer
some of the workers allegations Sequoia declined what do you think
happened? My own personal opinion was the touch screen voting system
wasn't getting off the ground like that they-- like they would hope.
And because 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.
It is hard to imagine an event as dramatic as the one in Florida 2000.
And whether Hobson and the workers are right, it is undeniable that in
the months following the 2000 election, Sequoia went from selling
cards for pennies apiece to selling many millions of dollars worth of
touch screen equipment in Florida alone.
The workers have their thoughts, opinions and speculations about this.
You hope for the best in people and you hope it was just some bad
circumstances that came together all in one place. But it should
matter to people and they should check it out, and investigate it more
thoroughly, because if something else was going on, and these people
profited form intentionally screwing up an election, they ought to
pay. They ought to pay hard.
Some of these workers believe that if Sequoia management deliberately
used inferior paper for the punch cards, they crossed a serious line.
I don't think any company should profit from something like this, I
mean, it is almost to the point where it would be illegal. You are
putting out a product that you know isn't going to work to make a
profit. For years they all took pride in the quality of card that they
put out. And this card that went into Florida created a lot of
problems. A lot of problems. Substandard paper, are we trying to force
something here? Are we trying to change the elections community, I
thought those things. I can't substantiate those things but that's
what I thought it was something that-- that really influenced the
direction of this-- this nation. - intentionally or unintentionally.
I'll phrase it that way. But, it-- it-- it's-- a sad state of affairs
that it takes seven years for somebody to actually ask the question to
the people that might have the answer. Agree or disagree, believe what
they say or not. You decide, knowing that Sequoia contends that its
ballots were fine.
These workers are convinced that foreign ownership was part of the
problem at Sequoia. They worry that overseas owners controlled the
production of punch cards and the same will be true of optical scan
ballots -as Sequoia remains a major supplier of ballots nationwide.
What's more important to you: Knowing that your vote is recorded as
you case it or the profits of voting machine manufacturers? It may
seem like an obvious question, but when citizens try to get to the
bottom of how these machines- bought with your taxpayer money- either
work or don't work manufacturers continually hide behind the wall of "
trade secrets." are these machines that determine who decides our
laws, who runs our states, and who sits in the white house with the
power to direct our armed forces no different from the formula for
coca cola, or McDonald's special sauce? We don't think so, and that's
why we tried to get answers tonight. But, unlike Congress or
prosecutors, we aren't armed with subpoena power, we can't force
companies to prove that they take concerns about their machines and
their ballots seriously the message is " trust us," but the
information we have been able to obtain suggests that trust has not
been earned and that voting machines warrant, in fact, much closer
scrutiny than they have received so far. Because, as we heard
Florida's governor Crist ask, " what could be more important in
democracy than making sure that the right to vote is one that we can
have confidence in?"
For HDnet, this is Dan Rather reporting. Good night
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Thank you to Bill Faulkner, Clarity Sanderson, and Joyce McCloy for
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The material expressed herein is the informed product of the author
Kathy Dopp's fact-finding and investigative efforts. Dopp is a
Mathematician, Expert in election audit mathematics and procedures; in
exit poll discrepancy analysis; and can be reached at
P.O. Box 680192
Park City, UT 84068
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