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Venezuelan Interest In U.S. Voting Software 337

Posted by kdawson
from the just-what-we-needed dept.
A number of readers wrote in about a U.S. federal investigation into the Venezulean ownership of Sequoia Voting Systems, which makes voting machines used in 17 states and the District of Columbia. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States wonders whether the anti-U.S. government of Hugo Chávez could be trying to influence the U.S. midterm elections. From the article: "Government officials familiar with the Smartmatic inquiry said they doubted that even if the Chávez government was some kind of secret partner in the company, it would try to influence elections in the United States. But some of them speculated that the purchase of Sequoia could help Smartmatic sell its products in Latin America and other developing countries, where safeguards against fraud are weaker."
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Venezuelan Interest In U.S. Voting Software

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  • Ridiculous (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joey7F (307495) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:33PM (#16634318) Homepage Journal
    I want people trying to influence this election unfairly to be Americans
    • by l2718 (514756)

      I want people trying to influence this election unfairly to be Americans

      Unfortunately, Diebold disagrees with you. They prefer the run this election to the tune of "may the best cracker win". I mean, the US government has such an world-reaching influence that it makes sense to have a global election process, right? That's probably why they tabulate election results on unsecured Windows PCs and why the sell voting machines with less integrity and security than an XBox.

    • Personally, I find it hilarious and ironic. The USA played a part [guardian.co.uk] in the attempted Venezulean coup in 2002. The documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised [imdb.com] covers it rather well and is well worth a viewing.

      Then we have regime change in Iraq! Frankly, I find the paranoid fear that another country is attempting influence US elections quite worrysome. It's almost like the US has developed some sort of collective paranoid psychosis.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        The USA played a part in the attempted Venezulean coup in 2002.

        Hey the US was just celebrating the ten year anniversary of the Coup held by "friend of democracy" Hugo Chavez.
  • Oh fucking please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theolein (316044) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:34PM (#16634332) Journal
    Chavez might be a populist loudmouth fucker, but he is pretty open about what he wants and what his intentions are, not like the current crop of corrupt, deceiptful pigs running the USA, who resort to vague accusations like this one in times of elections because they finally realised that they fucked up across the board and that people really hate them for it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Exactly.

      Let's investigate the only E-Vote vendor who is NOT under control of our own thugs.
    • Re:Oh fucking please (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sique (173459) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:50PM (#16634532) Homepage
      But if anything, Hugo Chavez would actually be interested in keeping the current administration in power. It keeps the oil prices high (good for Hugo Chavez), it is so incompetent, that any uprising it tries to initiate against Hugo Chavez is easily defeated (the last one was gone after 48 hrs), and it gives him enough populist argumentation to use any means to stay in power and also suppress any other uprising.

      I also think that al-Qaida would vote G.W.Bush: Never ever have the recruiting possibilities have be better, never ever have the arguments of al-Qaida being existant better. Never ever have the means and possibilities of getting money from the Arab world being better due to high income on oil and an general feeling of being waged an undeclared war against from the U.S..

      Never ever have allies of the U.S. being more alienated from the U.S., making "divide et impera" the most easiest ever. Never ever was the danger of the own population being in favor of U.S. so minimal. The U.S. was actually managing to get the same people of Iran, who were burning candles on the streets in condolence to the victims of 9/11 and thus expressing their sympathy for the U.S., now being nearly unified against the same U.S..

      If I was the U.S. administration, I would recommend to hush up any possible ties between Sequoia voting machines and Venezuela.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by h4rm0ny (722443)

        You've ignored the possibility that Chavez actually despises the actions of the Bush regime and genuinely would like to see a better US foreign policy.

        Not everyone is solely interested in power.
        • by krell (896769)
          "You've ignored the possibility that Chavez actually despises the actions of the Bush regime and genuinely would like to see a better US foreign policy."

          Actually, he wants to "bury the US". I saw him say this in a live speech. What was really surprising was that he neglected to bang on the podium with his shoe while saying it.
          • by Lars T. (470328)
            Actually, he wants to "bury the US". I saw him say this in a live speech. What was really surprising was that he neglected to bang on the podium with his shoe while saying it.
            So the legend about what Khrushchev [wikipedia.org] said lives on. And what Chavez said, for that matter: ""We will bury the U.S. Empire".
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Kuciwalker (891651)
          You've ignored the possibility that Chavez actually despises the actions of the Bush regime and genuinely would like to see a better US foreign policy.

          Not everyone is solely interested in power. Yes, I would ignore that possibility.

        • by vishbar (862440)

          Not everyone is solely interested in power.

          A ridiculous statement made even more ridiculous when applied to Hugo Chavez. Read up a little on the guy. He likes his power.
          • Not everyone is solely interested in power.
            You're right, people not soley interested in power get jobs. The ones interested in power become politicians.
      • by lixee (863589)
        It keeps the oil prices high (good for Hugo Chavez).
        I believe Chavez cares more about the well-being of the deprived and misfortuned than a couple more million bucks in the country's treasury. He's giving away heating oil for free to poor families in the US!
        The US policies have always benefited the rich while disadvantaging the poor, and that's IMHO the number one reason why he's opposing them.
      • > I also think that al-Qaida would vote G.W.Bush:

        If memory serves GWB was endorsed by both Osama Bin Laden and Vladimir Putin in the days before the 2004 election.
        Which has to be a first.
    • by slughead (592713)
      Chavez might be a populist loudmouth fucker, but he is pretty open about what he wants and what his intentions are, not like the current crop of corrupt, deceiptful pigs running the USA, who resort to vague accusations like this one in times of elections because they finally realised that they fucked up across the board and that people really hate them for it.

      Yeah, all populists have secret police to round up dissidents.

      Even anti-Bush politicians like Nancy Pelosi agree that Chavez is a "thug."

      Like most 3rd
  • What? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ..where safeguards against fraud are weaker."

    Do they run open source software or something?
  • Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:36PM (#16634364)
    "where safeguards against fraud are weaker"

    Is that supposed to be a joke?
    • I hope so. I'm from Uruguay, and elections here are MUCH better safeguarded than the ones in the US - for one, there is a paper trail.

      For the 2000 elections I was a representative for a small party and was an observer at the vote counting (there was an observer at each polling station for every party in most urban areas, plus independant observers). It was of course voluntary work (non-paid).

      Let me know if such measures are implemented in the US - last I heard, they aren't. I was proud to be a watchman
  • Only in America (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phleb3 (954280) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:37PM (#16634368)
    I think that the real problem is that Venezuela is in the doghouse of Bush and Company. Diebold which is held by a right wing company is not subjected to this scrutiny.
    • Re: Only in America (Score:3, Informative)

      by Black Parrot (19622)
      > Diebold which is held by a right wing company is not subjected to this scrutiny.

      Our country has a long history of the FBI keeping an eye on people for no reason other than liberal views, while jumping in bed with the most extreme sort of right-wingers in South America.
    • by jefu (53450)

      My first thought was exactly this - investigate machines made by that leftist radical country Venezuela, but don't even think about critizing those made by Diebold.

      My second thought was way more cynical - could this be a pre-election manoeuvre designed to set the stage for investigating/recount/tossing out votes on suspect machines? Being sure, of course, to focus on those machines that voted Democrat. (OK, so the machines don't themselves vote. Or do they? Since we often can't see the the code or eve

  • by lixee (863589) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:37PM (#16634372)
    Before you start bashing Chavez, please take the time to watch "The revolution will not be televised". It's an award winning documentary by an Irish crew who happened to be in Caracas when the coup against Chavez happened back in 2002.

    Knowledge is the main weapon in this day and age!
    • What the fuck is the point of calling Bush the Devil? First of all, one of the strongest ideas in the US constitution is the separation of church and state. It is fucking CENTRAL. So why do people insist on tying it back in? I mean, if you can't handle living in a country where the government fundamentally keeps its distance from religion (for damned good reasons) then just, please, leave.

      Bush is not the Devil, even if the Devil were to exist other than as an idea.

      Bush is just a stupid politician who pa
      • by arcite (661011)
        You're right he isn't inherently evil...he is worse! Bush thinks he is doing his gods bidding!
        • Here let me fix that comment for you:

          You're right he isn't inherently evil...he is worse! Any religious man or woman thinks he or she is doing his or her gods bidding!

          • by Guuge (719028)
            I do miss the concept of humility in religion. These days it seems that every churchgoer is The Messiah and is eager to tell you exactly how to fix all the problems you didn't know you had.
            • Yes it seems there's a shortage of 'bakers' in the world...humble pie is rarely on the human political menu these days.

              TLF
            • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

              by udderly (890305) *
              These days it seems that every churchgoer is The Messiah and is eager to tell you exactly how to fix all the problems you didn't know you had.

              Churchgoing people (if by churchgoing, you mean Christian) by definition cannot logically believe that they are the Messiah. If they do, by definition, they are not Christians.

              As far as telling you "how to fix all the problems you didn't know you had," what exactly are you talking about? If they're trying to tell you about Christian beliefs--like salvation--tha
              • by Guuge (719028)

                Forgive my hyperbole. I did not mean the "Messiah" part literally. The non-Christianity of such a claim is part of my point. Jesus was supposed to have unlimited power and yet he chose to live in poverty and not establish a Christian regime. To claim more authority for oneself is on some level like claiming to be a greater Messiah. At the same time, I do not wish to limit my comment exclusively to Christians. You are correct that many religions deserve the same criticism.

                I don't mean to hold anything agai

      • by ronanbear (924575)
        Bush sponsored a coup against Chavez. It was a stupid thing to do. What was the point of the coup? They were just pissed off at him were were trying to intimidate his neighbours.

        Chavez gets to call Bush anything he wants when addressing the UN general assembly. Its a small price you have to pay for sponsoring a coup against a democratic government. Many feel that Bush should be punished properly.
        • by krell (896769)
          "Chavez gets to call Bush anything he wants when addressing the UN general assembly. Its a small price you have to pay for sponsoring a coup against a democratic government."

          Chavez, as a dictator, has nothing to do with "democratic government". There's certainly nothing like democracy in Venezuela under Chavez, where it is now an explicit crime [washingtonpost.com] criticize the dictator.
          • I'd like to see the media in the US start calling for the violent overthrow of the government, which is what happened.

      • by rthille (8526)
        Oddly enough, Bush seems to want to tie Church and State back together, with his 'faith based initiatives', his Justice Department giving an amicus brief in support of displays of the 10 commandments in courthouses ( http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&s i d=aVq7CjVw_3Zc&refer=us [bloomberg.com] ), etc. So, given the religious overtones of Bush and his supporters, I can understand why people use the same tones to attack him.
        • Bush is a religious man. It is hardly a surprise to me that he would attempt to bring church and state together. However, it is my deepest hope that he does not succeed.

          One of the main reasons I do not like it when people call Bush the Devil is that is does not convey any description of the negativity within the statement. It is a blanket statement without any depth. I prefer more qualitative statements involving reasonable criticisms or complaints than pie-in-the-sky religious labels that get nobody an
      • by h4rm0ny (722443)

        There is the matter of lying to the World in his efforts to start the war in the first place. Even if one is magnanimous enough to say it was a genuine mistake to invade, rather than pointing at the huge ulterior motives for it, the action of deceit can hardly be called one. It was deliberate and unconscienable.
        • I am not arguing against anything but the stupidity of using religious labels to define someone based on their mistakes.

          That is all.

          Thank you.

          TLF
      • by lixee (863589)

        What the fuck is the point of calling Bush the Devil?

        It was a reference to Chavez's latest UN speech in NY.

        I mean, if you can't handle living in a country where the government fundamentally keeps its distance from religion (for damned good reasons) then just, please, leave.

        Breaking news, buddy! There's a world outside the US. I happen to belong to it and am really glad about that.

        Bush is just a stupid politician who panders to specialist interest groups and ignores the larger morally sound issues behind

    • Chavez ownz all the oil man! All of it!, he has the US by the BALLS! He has SO much oil he is GIVING it away!

      Well... that is so long he can stand the sulpur smell I guess. tee-hee...

      Seriously though, Chavez is just your average guy who grew up in the slums and rising to power fighting for the little guy/gal.

      Clearly Bush&Cheney would like nothing better than to introduce the harmless little fella to some friendly water boarding.

    • I would thoroughly recommend this documentory/movie. It is definitely not an anti-Bush propaganda film produced by the Democrats like many (who probably haven't seen it) say it is (it was produced by Spanish reporters for a start) and I would probably take some bits of the movie "with a pinch of salt", but they do have some amazing footage of a very odd event (or non-event as most have never heard of it) in modern history. If you like hearing about conspiracy theories than this is one, albeit focused on dif
    • "Before you start bashing Chavez, please take the time to watch"

      I watched this video. It certainly did not make me favor the dictator. It was sort of heartbreaking that the coup almost set Venezuela on a road to decency, but the dictator won out in the end. Now with rigged elections and the laws Chavez passed (including one that requires a long jail term for criticizing the dictator), Latin America is sure to enjoy a few decades of bloodshed, war, and oppression from Venezuela's expansionist "President f
      • I watched this video. It certainly did not make me favor the dictator.

        How can he be considered a dictator? He got it to power democratically after huge support from the countries poor. This same support played a part in the counter-revolution to stop the undemocratic assention of a military government. What's your angle here? Have you actually seen the documentary? I honestly don't know how anyone could come to your conclusions after watching it. And yes, I have read of this coup before seeing the movie a

        • by krell (896769)
          "These folk are losing out as Chavez attempts to make his country fairer."

          Yes, Stalin said the same thing in the 1930s as he did what he did. Hard to imagine someone believing either of these similar guys (who are both rich, corrupt types).
    • If you find the "The revolution will not be televised" you should also go watch this one [google.com] done by a couple of Venezuelan engineers which shows the background of what was happening and what was actually going on. English subtitles.
      • by lixee (863589)

        If you find the "The revolution will not be televised" you should also go watch this one done by a couple of Venezuelan engineers which shows the background of what was happening and what was actually going on. English subtitles.

        What was ACTUALLY going on remains a mistery to this date. I watched your piece and there's too much reliance on gimmicks and cheap shots in it for me to consider it seriously. Heck, the stated mission of "X-ray of a lie" was to discredit "the revolution will not be televised". Th

    • I saw this movie last week at a showing in London's South Bank Center.

      The film-maker said we were all free to download it. He'd covered his costs thanks to RTE and the BBC and just wanted people to see it now.

      Great movie. And what happened was truly frightening. Not least because (as mentioned in the discussion afterwards) most of the Western press largely ignored it.

      The movie vaguely hints that Washington may have been involved. It shows the plotters going to the White House the month before the coup

  • What better antidote to Diebold could there be?

    "Better" meaning practical and effective, not necessarily morally right.
  • Hold on a second (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:41PM (#16634420)
    Let's take care of the known threats to fair elections at home before we get too wrapped up in hypothetical foreign conspiracies.

    Though a move to open systems would help with either.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RealGrouchy (943109)
      Let's take care of the known threats to fair elections at home before we get too wrapped up in hypothetical foreign conspiracies.

      Hell, if it takes Chavez to get the US back to pen-and-paper ballots, then all the better.

      Is there some way we can get Kim Jong-Il to invest in Diebold?

      - RG>
  • by angryflute (206793) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:42PM (#16634430) Homepage
    Why won't the U.S. government investigate Diebold as well?
  • Poster child of FUD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by orzetto (545509) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:43PM (#16634436)

    A GOP risking to lose an election, a less popular than ever PotUS, a largely announced electoral defeat: so let's try to blame the machines, and while we're at it Chávez too. It only surprises me they did not mention the company's CEO is an alias used by Osama Bin Laden or some other scarecrow.

    The article also mentions (in the second page) the controversy about Chávez' re-election's, but fail to mention that election's result was UN-certified (unlike someone else's) and the guy in charge of UN controls was Jimmy Carter, not Fidel Castro.

    • Re your stat, actually the number of fatalities on America's highways is about 40k [dot.gov]. Drunk driving alone is involved with 17k a year [alcoholalert.com]

      To put it into perspective, since 9/11, about 30x as many people died because of drunk drivers than died in the attacks. Don't get me wrong, the attacks were brutal and I'm sure the guys who were piloting the planes didn't reach the heaven they thought they were reaching, but as a nation we are overreacting.....
      • The war has cost $340 billion dollars and 3,000 US soldier's lives. It's debatable whether we even made any real difference in Afghanistan, as the Taliban still controls most of the country and will likely restore it to where it was in 2001 within another year or two. The Iraq ware has likely made the threat of terrorism worse by replacing a non-threat with an extremist anarchy.

        Even the right wing chickenhawks stated the war was going to be very long and expensive before we started it. By not making t
    • the guy in charge of UN controls was Jimmy Carter

      This same Jimmy Carter?

      http://www.mnstories.com/archives/2005/11/ethiopia ns_prot.html [mnstories.com]

  • Nah, he just wants to fix his own elections just like the Republicans do. Damn you diebold!
  • Flame Bait (Score:4, Funny)

    by AlgUSF (238240) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @03:44PM (#16634460) Homepage
    I want to mod this article flame bait. Left-wing koolaid drinkers vs. right-wing koolaid drinkers. :-)
    • In America we call Trolls, Politicians and Flaming, Politics. Everybody's drinking the Kool-aid these days, maybe except for the moderates, but they don't get any air time.
  • I think Nelson phrased it best..

    "Hah-hah!"

    I am of course referring to Nelson off of The Simpsons, not the the admiral, or the guy from South Africa..
  • Somewhat amusing that after some Democratic partisans carped about electronic voting machines stealing elections for the GOP, now there's a federal investigation into one of the electronic voting machine companies for its ties to leftist dictator Hugo Chavez.
  • Yeah, it's gotta be the foreigners trying to fix our elections... couldn't be any native companies.

    Personally, I'd rather have them doing it than /our/ politicians.

    Fucking xenophobic, racist bastards.
  • The real issue is that there are no good standards in the USA for what makes a secure electronic voting machine. Without a solid standard, companies like diebold and sequoia are going to offer insecure voting machines, precincts are going to buy them, and there's really no way to know whether vote fraud has occured, or will occur.
  • After all, it is not possible to trust ANYONE to hold veto power over democratic elections. That's why the procedures and requirements from electronic voting machines should not trust the machines (read - possibility of voter-verified manual recounts, etc.).

    If that is the case, why does it matter who is doing the actual manufacturing?

    Reminds me of a Black-Hat Briefing conference I attended some years back, where a chain of encrypted anonymous email servers was introduced. A member of the audience asked whet
  • I submitted about this back in April and it was rejected, now the NyTimes writes about it and it's "news."

    Feh.
  • I'm astounded that it took 3 hours and 4 minutes for "fud" to show up in the tag list.
  • Every screaming liberal here on Slashdot treats random allegations about Diebold to be indubitably true, unquestionably the reason for their 2004 disappointment.

    But here's an allegation that a devout socialist and an avowed enemy of the United States might have an ownership interest in a compnay that makes electronic voting machines, and not only do some folks dispute the allegation off the bat, but many or most of the same screaming liberals actually cheer for the idea of stolen elections as long as the "

  • Why not test electronic voting in parallel with paper voting? Check the counts afterwards, and see how correct the eVoting was. In fact, why not keep the paper trail too? Is this really so hard or expensive for a country (yes, my country) that spends hundreds of billions of dollars blowing up my schoolhood friends in Iraq?

    Or maybe the current system (notice I say system, not just the current administration) doesn't like the idea of doing things scientifically?
  • Noam Chomsky just recently was talking about the differences between the Venezuelan elections and the US elections - it's like night and day - with Venezuela being by far more honest and fair and involving a truly interested electorate.

    The US hasn't had a fair election in six years and won't have one next week either - even assuming Bush doesn't try bombing the vote fraud off the front page with an attack on Iran.

  • "Venezuelan Interest In U.S. Voting Software"

    At least SOMEONE is interested in the potential misuse of software in U.S. voting!
  • Disclaimer: i am venezuelan, and not a follower of Chavez.

    This is partially true. Originally, the goverment was part-owner of Smarmatic. No wonder they got chosen to supply the hardware for elections here.

    As soon as the public found out, they sold their percentage of ownership.

    The hardware smartmatic sells is a model that was intended to be used in Lottery calculations (source: http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2004/06/14/pol_art _pol1.shtml/ [eluniversal.com] )
  • It does, but it shouldn't.

    We should be demanding enough transparency in voting machines that it wouldn't make a difference if they were being programmed by Karl Rove or by Boss Tweed. Either they're clean or they're not, and it's wrong that we have to guess which based on who owns the manufacturer.
  • For the real reason the USA is positioning itself to invade Venezuela, please watch the documentary video:
    The Revolution Will Not Be Televised [google.com]

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