The voting machine maker that was partly blamed for Florida’s infamous hanging chads in 2000 was taken over by a competitor years ago, but the lawyers who are handling the company’s unfinished business are suing its new owner for money. Lawyers in charge of Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., now basically a litigation vehicle, are accusing Dominion Voting Systems Inc. of paying too little for Sequoia Voting’s operations in 2010. The dispute led Sequoia Voting to file for bankruptcy last month as its lawyers push Denver-based Dominion Voting for money. But back to hanging chads: Sequoia Voting sent punch-card ballots to parts of Florida for the 2000 presidential election, when some machines left behind stuck or hanging chads and led some ballots to be thrown out, according to press reports.
Sequoia Voting traced its roots to when the country first experimented with mechanical voting equipment—the kind where you pulled a lever—in the 1890s.
The current dispute originates in 2009, when Sequoia Voting’s business struggled for reasons that were not made clear in earlier bankruptcy-court papers. Its leaders began to look for a buyer.
In negotiations that took place in early 2010, Dominion Voting originally proposed to buy Sequoia Voting for $9.5 million—a deal that included contingent payments and would have kept former Chief Executive Jack Blaine employed for at least one year with a $120,000 salary, according to papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Denver.
But then two things happened: The price of the company began to fall and the compensation offered to Mr. Blaine, who was negotiating the deal, rose. In the end, he was promised a three-year employment term for $350,000 in annual salary and a severance package, according to court papers.