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Venezuela tampering with US elections -- oh really?

The Truth Will Set You Free | October 30 2006

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., the same one that raised the alarm over Dubai investing in American ports, is investigating alleged ties of voting software firm Smartmatic to the Venezuelan government.

The ties consist of a $200,000 investment by the Venezuelan government in a smaller company which was later purchased by Smartmatic, placing one Venezuelan official on Smartmatic’s board of directors. Further . . .

With a windfall of some $120 million from its first three contracts with Venezuela, Smartmatic then bought the much larger and more established Sequoia Voting Systems, which now has voting equipment installed in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

However, Venezuela denies improprieties

The government of Venezuela doesn’t have anything to do with the company aside from contracting it for our electoral process,” the Venezuelan ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, said last night.

True or not, the bigger question is, if one board member on a start-up software company merits a federal investigation, what about the company that dominates US voting – Diebold -- whose CEO is a major contributor to the Republican party, and whose machines are already suspected of widespread electoral tampering?

To this, a hapless Democrat replies

The government should know who owns our voting machines; that is a national security concern,” said Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, who asked the Bush administration in May to review the Sequoia takeover.

Evidently, Diebold's ownership of most of the nation's voting machines, and its ties to the Republican party, are not considered a "national security concern."

There is another slant to this story, too.

Since its takeover by Smartmatic in March 2005, Sequoia has worked aggressively to market its voting machines in Latin America and other developing countries. “The goal is to create the world’s leader in electronic voting solutions,” said Mitch Stoller, a company spokesman.

Why the sudden interest in electoral software in Latin America, and what is really meant by “voting solutions?"

After all the publicity about Diebold, perhaps electronic voting is now recognized to be the easiest way to guarantee victory in elections everywhere.

But the Committee on Foreign Investment won’t be looking into anything important like that. It will just perform its predictable role of raising fears of foreign presence on US soil.


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