The River

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Electronic Vote Tampering: A scandal for all political persuasions

Will the 2004 Election be Stolen With Electronic Voting Machines? A BuzzFlash Interview with Bev Harris, Who Has Done the Groundbreaking Work on This Issue.

BUZZFLASH: Electronic voting machines, including touch-screen voting, have been touted as the salvation of a fair voting process. Your tenacious research over the last year has shown that this idea may be the Trojan Horse of voting machine reform, allowing elections to be stolen more easily than in the past. What are the basic reasons that you argue that electronic voting machines pose a threat to democracy?

BEV HARRIS: Four reasons:

1. Secrecy: What has always been a transparent process, subjected to many eyes and belonging to all of us, has very recently become secretive and proprietary. This happened when voting systems, which should be considered part of the "public commons" were turned over to private companies. These companies now assert that the process underlying the vote must be held secret from the voters.

2. Ownership: When a system that belongs to the public becomes secret, it becomes doubly important to make sure we can completely trust those who run it. Voting machine companies are not required to tell us who owns them. Two of the top six firms have been foreign-owned:, owned by the Saudis until an acquisition by Accenture recently, and Sequoia, now owned by DeLaRue (Great Britain). Three of the top six firms have owners and/or directors who represent vested interests:

-- Election Systems & Software, the largest company. Main owner is a company owned by Senator Chuck Hagel's campaign finance director, Michael McCarthy. Hagel has owned shares in both the voting company itself and in the parent company run by his campaign finance director, and Hagel was the CEO and Chairman of the voting machine company while it built the machines that counted his votes.

-- Diebold, the second largest voting machine company. CEO is Wally O'Dell, who recently visited George W. Bush at his Crawford ranch along with an elite group of Bush supporters called the "Rangers" and "Pioneers.” Days later, he penned a letter to Ohio Republicans promising to help "deliver the votes" for Bush. O'Dell sponsored a $600,000 fund raiser for Dick Cheney in July. Diebold director W.H. Timken is also a Bush Pioneer.

-- VoteHere, the company striving to get its cryptography software into all the other companies' machines (already has a contract with Sequoia), has as its Chairman a close Cheney supporter and member of the Defense Policy Board, Admiral Bill Owens. Former CIA director Robert Gates, who heads the George Bush School of Business, is also a director.

-- Voting companies also have a somewhat incestuous group of key players -- Todd Urosevich and Bob Urosevich founded ES&S, but Todd now is an executive with ES&S while Bob is president of Diebold Election Systems. Sequoia and ES&S share software and optical scan machines.


Comments: Post a Comment