May 11, 2006

Denver Voting Machines Controlled By Hugo Chavez?

Some say it is worth investigating, others that it is a "crackpot theory":
Officials in Washington and Chicago are questioning whether leftist Venezuela President Hugo Chavez's government has financial ties with the U.S. company that supplies voting machines used by Denver voters and millions of citizens across the country.

A New York congresswoman has asked the U.S. Treasury Department to determine if the Venezuelan-connected Smartmatic, the parent company of California-based Sequoia Voting Systems, was properly vetted by federal officials.

. . .

"It's a crackpot theory," Jack Blaine, president of Smartmatic and Sequoia, told Chicago reporters last month. "The ability of Hugo Chavez to manipulate the vote in Chicago is impossible."

He maintains that "no shares in Smartmatic have ever been held by any foreign government."

. . .

Denver Election Commission officials have stood behind Sequoia, saying the city has a 50-year track record of reliable performance from the firm.

"We here at the municipal level are only concerned about making sure that we have a smooth election and making sure that we are in compliance with federal and state (voting-machine) statutes so as not to get the city sued," Alton Dillard, the commission's interim executive director said Wednesday.

"Anything having to do with international affairs we will gladly defer to our congressional delegation."

The City Council has given initial approval to using $1.4 million in federal funding to purchase 240 Sequoia touch-screen machines for the Aug. 8 primary election. They're needed for Denver to comply with a federal mandate to provide polling technology that allows disabled citizens to vote without assistance and to meet a state requirement that new electronic machines provide a paper record showing individuals how they voted.

Denver City Council members do not give credence to the Venezuelan suspicions.

"It sounds just like a conspiracy theory to me," said Councilman Doug Linkhart.


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