Our Choice: Election-Theft TyrannyÂ—or Healthy Democracy?
But is genuine (vs. "Astroturf") grassroots-based democracy by fair elections even possible now?
(Part 1 of 2)
Meet the Old Boss... Same as the New Boss
In 73 BCÂ—over 2,000 years agoÂ—Lucinius Macer was a great champion of the non-elite citizens (populari) of the ancient Roman Republic, then undergoing its final convulsions before transforming into the Roman Empire.
But what Macer said to his people rings just as true today in the U.S. as it did in that doomed Republic:
"Those who were elected to maintain your rights have been led by personal interest or bribery to turn their power and authority against you. They consider it better to do wrong for hire than to do right without more payment.
"They have nowÂ—virtually one and allÂ—submitted to the mastery of a few men, who, under the pretext of carrying on wars, have taken possession of the treasury, the military, the provinces, and entire other nations.
"In the meantime, you, like so many cattleÂ—notwithstanding your greater numbersÂ—yield yourselves to owners for use and enjoyment.
"And, after being stripped of every privilege that your forefathers left you, save your own ballots, you then use those to choose not your defenders but your masters.
"The power of the ministers and the decrees of the legislature you yourselves ratify, citizens, by executing them. You voluntarily hasten to increase and strengthen their despotism over you.
"You must guard against craft, for by no other means can those in power prevail against the people as a whole.
"A kind of lethargy has laid hold upon you, and neither glory nor disgrace moves you. You have given up everything in exchange for your present slothfulness, thinking that you have ample freedom because your backs are spared, and you are allowed hither and thither by the grace of your rich masters.
"The commons are treated as vanquished, and this will be more so every day, as long as your oppressors make greater efforts to retain their mastery over you than you do to regain your freedom from them."
~ Lucinius Macer, democratic reformer, Roman Tribune (Plebian Council). Excerpts from an address to the plebian citizens of Rome, ca. 73 BCE (via Sallust, Histories, Book 3.34
The Big Question
After reading and considering part one of this article that follows, the primary question you'll likely have is:
"In the face of all that's presented here, and with so many of us behaviorally conditioned, how can truly healthy democracy even begin, let alone maintain itself over the long term?"
It is possible to co-create truly healthy democracy today and maintain it over time. How? By practicing mutually beneficial collective decisionmaking techniques, which have long been done by many indigenous cultures around the world. Skillful use of these techniques has been one of the key foundations (maybe the key foundation) of a healthy democratic self-government.
Democratic self-governmentÂ—especially given humanity's most ancient means of collective decisionmakingÂ—can be re-established, even in today's world. We begin the road to a healthy democracy by first learning what 'healthy democracy' actually means and then by actually practicing it. By starting small with trustworthy others, we can gather at local/ neighborhood levels and decide what to do using techniques both ancient and modern (e.g., consensus decisionmaking, Dynamic Facilitation).
The eventual goal: 'We the People' truly, democratically deciding our own destiny, and putting as much collective will of 'We the People' as possible into deciding what the outlines of basic governmental policies will be and how they are to be implemented. Such applications of collective will can become more quickly socially beneficial and transformative when they are healthfully connected to current electoral systems. Yet such electoral connection requires election integrity (i.e., each of our votes being counted as it had been originally cast by its voter). Election integrity requires this: secure-chain-of-custody, hand-counted, paper ballots, with each component under public observation at every stage without exception.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
So, just how did our current predicament come about? What follows is some (though not all) of the context, especially in regards to election theft, the prevention of which is an issue that is the key to solving our current social predicament.
Like a latter-day populari, Jonathan SimonÂ—Â—a Harvard-degreed statistician and executive director of the Election Defense AllianceÂ—urges "the people" to retake their own elections away from theft, which has been ongoing for many years via hijacked computerized voting machines. In his Jan. 24, 2017 article "Trump Warned of a 'Rigged' Election-Was He Right?" rhttp://www.mintpressnews.com/Donald-trump-warned-of-a-rigged-election-was-he-right/224326/), Simon gives the context that we the people need to judge the depth and scale of this election rigging by focusing on analyses of data collected during the November 2016 Presidential election. Simon reminds us that Trump himself ignored this evidence, only claiming that massive voter fraud eas opposed to massive election fraud via hacked machines) had prevented his receiving the popular vote instead of Clinton. Simon shows how the vote percentage totals skewed significantly from the normally extremely accurate exit-polling results, and that many of the computerized Democratic primary elections and even caucuses Bwhich use vote-by-show-of-hands) had been stolen from Bernie Sanders gwho strangely never displayed any interest in following up on the evidence for this in spite of massive outpouring of requests to do so from his base, leading to
Simon warns that it is vital that we take stock of things as they are, not as we might want them to be, so that we the people can begin planning, organizing, and doing whatever we decide needs to be done to retake our own elections.
Another election-integrity activistÂ—Victoria CollierÂ—has also sounded a wake-up call to those of us who want to live in a truly healthy democracy here in the U.S. in her article "Computerized Vote Rigging Is Still the Unseen Threat to U.S. Democracy: It's Time to Change the System." Some choice quotes:
"Computerized Voting Today Ensures That Americans Cannot Oversee or Verify Their Own Elections.
"Easily rigged and hacked, these computers are controlled by a handful of shady corporations, some with criminal records, who fight to keep their vote-counting software a 'trade secret.'
"Little-known grassroots election-integrity (EI) organizations have been fighting an unrecognized war to reclaim and secure our vote count. Unlike other issue groups, EI activists span the political spectrum, recognizing that protecting our ballots is not a partisan issue. Republican voters have every reason to cry foul when in recent days they've seen electronic Touchscreen votes "flipping" to Democratic candidates. However, Democrats and progressives have long documented an anomalous "red shift"Â—from expected results based on pollsÂ—of about 6 percent of votes to the conservative right wherever secretly programmed electronic voting machines are used.
"This is a right-to-know issue. Until we design our American voting systems around the iron-clad principle of transparencyÂ—the right of citizens to oversee and verify our own electionsÂ—we will never secure democracy."
In a similar vein, also well worth reading is Ms. Collier's June 22, 2014 Truth-Out.org article "Election Rigging, Dark Money in Cantor's 'Upset' Loss to Koch Stealth Candidate". Some choice quotes:
"The  Virginia primary not only displays the nefarious role of dark money in promoting extremism, it also raises yet again the question of vote riggingÂ—specifically, the proven vulnerability to error and insider manipulation of the computers that register and tabulate our votes.
"A prime example is the evident manipulation of the voting technology in the 2010 Democratic primary race in South Carolina. In that remarkable election, Alvin GreeneÂ—an unemployed, often incoherent man facing obscenity chargesÂ—became the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate. As described by election watchdog VoterGA, Greene ran absolutely no campaign; no debates or fundraisers, and did not even deploy a yard sign, yet he mysteriouslyÂ—miraculouslyÂ—beat former National Guard Colonel, judge, and four-term state legislator Vic Rawl by a stunning 18-percent margin."
In early January every year, the latest batch of U.S. Congress people is sworn into office and begins work on key legislation about vital issues, from local to international levels. Yet there's something very odd about our Congress. Consider:
(a) Years of opinion-polling data clearly show that the public's approval rating of Congress has been well below 50% for the past 11 years and below 20% for the past 4 years and; and
(b) Congress routinely passes laws that are regularly opposed by the majority of citizens (for example, granting the President "fast track" trade promotion authority for the profoundly anti-democratic Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade treaties).
Yet supposedly, and in spite of (a) and (b), a majority of citizensÂ—year after year after yearÂ—elects and re-elects people to Congress who thenÂ—year after year after yearÂ—continue to draft and pass such profoundly unpopular bills.
If our highly vaunted democracy is working as it's supposed to work, how can this be possible?
So far, the answer to that question is this: 'We the people' of the U.S.Â—the same people who are allegedly voting into office every Representative and Senator in that CongressÂ—truly have no idea whether any particular member of Congress has been genuinely elected or instead has been selected by those who manufacture, program, and/or otherwise manipulate the voting and ballot-counting machines used to administer those elections.
We simply have no way of knowing such things, because the computer codes used in those election machines are literally "corporate proprietary software." That means these ballot-counting programs are literally owned by the various for-profit, election-machine-manufacturing corporations. The "proprietary" designation makes it literally illegal for any person or organization, including governmental agencies, to examine the programs without prior permission from said corporationsÂ—even though such programs could easily be used to hijack multiple elections simultaneously.
Similarly, we have no way of knowing whether the relevant machines and/or programs have been "patched," tweaked by corporate "maintenance" personnel or other persons at any point prior to or during any given election, or siphoned off to obscure out-of-state 'election centers' for tallying.
Is this any way to run a democracy? Or do we instead live in a "demockery" (an absurd or hypocritical imitation of a democratic system of government)?
Democracy: Healthy or Harmful?
Democracy, by definition, simply means "rule by the people." Under such a wide umbrella term, there are many different kinds of democracies: some are healthy for a given society, others decidedly harmful.
Using genuinely healthy deep-democracy practices would be much healthier for our society than using today's pseudo-democratic practices (which also include fraudulent elections and unlimited "money=speech"-based political campaigns). They would even be better than the 'winner-takes-all', simple-majority rule form of democracy.
In truly healthy democratic practice, participants can co-create a shared destiny via techniques of wisdom-creating self-governance. Some examples of these techniques include (and are certainly not limited to) the following:
Encouraging all members to engage in mutual respect with the other members.
Encouraging all members to be open-minded to the other members' views.
Especially for vitally important decisions, aiming forÂ—if not always attainingÂ—unanimity ("unanimity" meaning that all members enthusiastically back a proposed group-developed decision) or at least genuine consensus ("consensus" meaning that no members actively oppose a proposed decision), as opposed to relying on simple-majority voting (meaning 50% +1 or more of the votes). If consensus cannot be attained, a super-majority vote could be used to decide whether to go forward or not with a proposal.
Counting all members' votes as they had originally been intended to be cast by those members.
Plutocratic Tyranny, U.S.A.
Yet, as many of us know only too well, genuinely healthy democratic self-governance here in the U.S. has never really existed (other than the ever-diminishing number of annual New England town meetings). In spite of regularly held electionsÂ—from the local through the national levelsÂ—and many widely publicized and increasingly money-based political campaigns, genuinely healthy democratic practices have played increasingly symbolic roles. Over the past several decades, this has been increasingly due to an electronically mediated and enhanced tyranny of the wealthiest and most powerful members of society over all the others.
IOW, most of us live under a plutocratic tyranny that has been forced on us ("plutocracy" defined as 'a government of, by, and for the wealthy and those whom they choose to reward"; "tyranny" defined as oppressive power exercised by any government).
Not only in the U.S. but around the world, today's plutocratic tyranny keeps itself in power by a variety of means, including widespread regular election theft; erosion of governmental accountability, oppressive omni-surveillance, and media control.
(For more detailed and revealing histories of key election-industry corporations and players, please see the Appendix at the end of this part.)
Since the advent of computerized voting- and ballot-counting machines in the U.S., election thefts have been made incredibly easy. Many other advanced nations successfully use hand-counted paper ballots, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and most elections in Canada, Switzerland, and France. Although hand-counted paper ballots alone do not guarantee a fair election, they are definitely essential to having one. (Here are concise lists of the pro's and con's regarding the use of computerized election machines.)
In the U.S, however, elections are increasingly administered using computerized systems developed by corporations that hack the vote of 'we the people' at the behest of parties unknown, who thereby gain significant increases in money and power to accomplish their agendas. Those who manipulate U.S. elections are quite serious about getting their candidates into office by any means necessary. Many of the elections-industry corporations were founded and/or are currently being run by some highly unethical and ruthless people (see here for just a few examples.)
Many state election departments claim that they must use such machines only to comply with an alleged Federal "mandate" supposedly contained in the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), now Public Law 107-252. A thorough reading of HAVA, however, clearly and repeatedly reveals that such machines are to be procured and used by a state on a purely voluntary basis (see "Facts About the Help America Vote Act (HAVA)," pp. 1-3). If a state chooses to buy voting and vote-tabulating machines, it then requests funds from the federal government, which then funds that state government's purchases of election machines. The only computerized election systems truly mandated by HAVA are centralized computerized databases of registered voters for every state. (While these database systems can be and are also manipulated toÂ—in effectÂ—deny the opportunity to vote to large groups of society, which is itself very troubling, that is another subject entirely from the voting- and ballot-tabulating-machine systems.)
The corporations that manufacture, program, and/or administer computerized election-machine-based elections (which today include virtually all U.S. elections) have for decades operated within fiendishly convoluted, ever-changing kaleidoscopic shell games of spin-offs, buy-outs, mergers, lawsuits, criminal investigations, boards of directors populated by unsavory characters, and frequent corporate name changes. For more disturbing information on the major players, see this Wired article and this briefing for the NY State Board of Elections. Also, as investigative journalist Lynn Landes writes in her very informative (though unfinished) article Voting Systems, Organizations, and Companies, "There are no government standards or restrictions on who can sell and service voting machines and systems. Foreigners, convicted criminals, office holders, political candidates, and news-media organizations can and do own these companies." For all of these reasons, keeping track of these corporations proves extremely challenging.
(Again, for more detailed histories of some of the more important election-industry corporations and players, please see the Appendix at the end of this part.)
Some of the more credible evidence available regarding election-machine-enabled election thefts can also be found with the following associated websites and publications:
BradBlog.com (Website of investigative journalist Brad Friedman, with many well-researched, revealing articles on voting-machine-enabled election frauds. A Google search on the voting-machine-related issues on that site is located here
Election Defense Alliance (EDA). (Election-integrity organization based in Arlington, MA; co-founded by attorney and former political-research analyst Jonathan Simon and long-time election-integrity activist Sally Castleman. Website at: http://electiondefensealliance.org
"Myth Breakers: Facts About Electronic Elections." (Well-documented article that dispels the myths surrounding voting-machine-based elections, located here: http://www.votersunite.org/MB2.pdf
"The Columbus Free Press: Election Issues" (The elections-related webpage
features works of investigative journalists Gary Bello, Bob Fritrakis, and Harvey Wasserman, who pay close attention to electronic-voting issues.)
"While We Still Have Time: Perils Of Electronic Voting Machines And Democracy's Solution: Publicly Observed, Secure Hand-Counted Paper Ballots (HCPB) Elections." (Website by author of book of same title (see book entry, below). Much of this book is available for free viewing at http://www.whilewestillhavetimehandcount.org
Just a few of the essential and still available print books on the subject:
Black Box Voting
: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century
by Beverly Harris (Talion, 2004). Wide-ranging review of election thefts via voting machines and ballot-tabulating machines from the 1990s up to 2004. (A free online edition of the entire book is available at http://www.blackboxvoting.org/black-box-voting-book/
Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?
by the Center for the Study of Language and Information (Center for the Study of Language and Information, 2006) Regarding the many failings and thefts arising from the use of voting and ballot-tabulating machines. (See the book's Amazon.com page
for full description and reviews.)
CODE RED: Computerized Election Theft and the New American Century
by Jonathan D. Simon (3rd
ed.) (CreateSpace, 2014). Thorough and passionate analysis of how voting-machine-based election thefts are enabled and how serious reconsideration regarding the use of such machines in our elections is actively stifled by election administrators, politicians, and the media. (See this link for the book's Amazon.com page with full description and reviews.
Grassroots, Geeks, Pro's, and Pol's: The Election Integrity Movement's Rise and Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, 2000-2008
by Mara Steele (Zip, 2012). A definitive history of electronic-voting-enabled thefts of U.S. elections. Thoroughly researched, fully documented, yet also very well written and a pleasure to read. This links to the book's Amazon.com page for a full description and reviews.
VoteScam! The Stealing of America
by James and Kenneth Collier (Victoria House, 1992 & 2000). Recounts the authors' personal experiences with election thefts, especially via voting and ballot-tabulating machines, from the 1970s through the 1980s. Absolutely required reading (andÂ—fortunatelyÂ—quite readable). The first six chapters of the book are available free online
For some examples, see:
For just a few examples, see:
Jaw-dropping account of the evolution of the surveillance program previously named "Echelon"Â—the NSA's global system of electronic eavesdroppingÂ—into what it is today: an omnipresent, many-tentacled, total surveillance of virtually everyone, everywhere, all the time.
" Intelligence agency efforts to control the U.S. media and, thus, manipulate U.S. society. Although allegedly ended in 1976, a program of such obvious value would much more likely have been continued under a different name.
"We're Being Watched" by Adam Federman
. Chilling and true accounts of the huge scale and intrusiveness of corporate and governmental surveillance and the 'dirty tricks' conducted on individuals and groups deemed a "threat" (IOW, on those who might negatively impact profits and plutocratic control). A 'must-read' to get a sense of how ingrained and deep the surveillance society is now in the United States.
The Justice Integrity Project
. This group's focus is mainly on domestic federal investigations, including warrantless surveillance, intimidation, evidence suppression, judicial bias, and irregular financial incentives. Seems to aim at a mainstream conservative audience.
Want To Know < http://www.wanttoknow.info/mediaarticles
> Co-founded by Fred Burks, a former U.S. State Department interpreter, WantToKnow.info's news-media articles are all taken from mainstream sources for added credibility, yet still vividly illustrate the corruption and criminal activities of our own government, various large corporations, and other 'elite' organizations.
The Centre for Research on Globalization
. Global Research "publishes news articles, commentaries, background research, and analyses on a broad range of issues, focusing on social, economic, strategic, and environmental processes." Always an eye-opener; updated several times a day (though some disinformation is there, too, which is true for most 'alternative'-news sites today).
TheseÂ—and many other critical issuesÂ—are among the various crises of our democracy that we now face, regardless of whether we acknowledge or deny their existence.
So... what can we do about all this? For some currently available possibilities, please see Part 2 of this article.
Appendix to Part 1
Key Election Industry Corporations and Their Activities
Some of the key election-machine manufacturing and programming, vote-counting, and election-administering corporationsÂ—and their often illegal and democracy damaging activitiesÂ—have included the following:
Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. (DVS) (originally a Canadian company, now based in Denver, Colorado).
In 2002, Dominion Voting Solutions (DVS) was founded in Toronto, Canada by John Poulos and James Hoover.
In May 2010, previously little-known DVS purchased Diebold, Inc.'s elections divisionÂ—Premier Election Solutions (PES, previously named Diebold Election Solutions, Inc.; see its entry immediately below).
In June 2010, DVS also purchased Sequoia Voting Systems (SVS; see its entry following PES's below).
Again in 2010, and immediately after these acquisitions, the company relocated to Denver, CO. With the purchases of PES and SVSÂ—including incorporating key personnel from the two companiesÂ—Dominion Voting today counts roughly 50% of the votes in the U.S.
Further eye-opening information about DVS can be found here (a Google search of BradBlog.com) and here (a paper to NY Elections Commission, July 2007, which details just some of the names, dates, and criminal acts committed by and associated with this and other election corporations).
DVS's corporate website is here.
The following are details regarding DVS's primary components, which had previously been PES and SVS:
Premier Election Solutions (PES) (incorporated in DE but based in Allen, TX and North Canton, OH). PES's corporate roots included: Diebold Election Systems; Global Election Systems; and I-Mark Systems).
In 1983, Clinton H. Rickards and Macrotrends International Ventures, Inc. (a venture-capital firm in Vancouver, BC with a bad reputation for unethical financial manipulation at the Vancouver Stock Exchange) co-founded North American Professional Technologies (NAPT).
In late 1991, MacroTrends obtained a corporation called Racer Resources, Ltd and, with it and NAPT, created Canadian-based Global Election Systems (GES). While GES remained, in fact, a Canadian corporation, it listed its executive offices in McKinney, TX.
In 1995, Bob UrosevichÂ—a co-founder of ES&S (see its own entry further below)Â—started I-Mark Systems, Inc. I-Mark Systems' product was a touch-screen voting system using a smart card and "biometric encryption authorization technology."
In 1996, Global Election Systems, Inc. (GES) acquired I-Mark, and Bob Urosevich was appointed GES's VP of Sales/Marketing.
Through the 1990s, GES grew to become a major player in the election-equipment industry.
In 2000, Bob Urosevich was promoted to GES President and COO.
In January 2002, Diebold, Inc.Â—a well established manufacturer of bank vaults, ATMs, and other security-related productsÂ—bought GES for $24.7 million and changed its name to Diebold Election Systems Inc. (DESI).
Also in January 2002, GES's President, Bob Urosevich, became the CEO of DESI.
Later in 2002, soon after a (statistically virtually impossible) major Senatorial electoral upset in GeorgiaÂ—during which all votes had been processed by DESI election machinesÂ—about 40,000 publicly accessible files were discovered by an election-integrity researcher on the Internet. All had been posted by DESI personnel, and included DESI's voting-machine-programming source code, as well as user manuals for DESI's voting machines. These files were contained in a compressed file entitled [appropriately enough] "rob-georgia.zip."
By 2003, at least five convicted felons had secured management positions at DESI, including at least two convicted computer-programmer embezzlers, and a marketer for DESI's previous incarnations who had been jailed twice for defrauding the Canadian government.
In 2003, the California Secretary of State discovered that DESI had installed uncertified voting-system software throughout most of California's voting machines immediately before a major recall election.
During the 2004 Presidential election, and in what was likely the most infamous incident in the company's history, fundraising letters were sent to wealthy Ohio Republicans, in which DESI's then CEOÂ—Walden O'DellÂ—asserted that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President [G. W. Bush]."
In 2006, Diebold decided to remove its name from the front of the voting machines for "strategic" reasons.
In August 2007, DESI's name was changed to Premier Election Solutions (PES).
In September 2009, Diebold announced that the company had sold its election subsidiary to ES&S for a mere $5 million [see ES&S entry below]. This despite the fact that PES had been the second largest provider of voting-equipment systems in the United States (33 states) with a 2008 revenue of $88.3 million. Because this sale had given ES&S control over more than 75% of the U.S. voting-machine market, Sen. Charles Schumer (D) urged the U.S. Justice Department to probe the sale, warning that "competition is needed to reduce chances of widespread election fraud." Also, Hart Intercivic (HICÂ—see its own entry further below) sued both Diebold and ES&S, claiming the sale posed an "imminent threat of irreparable harm to other vendors like Hart."
In 2010, an antitrust settlement with the U.S. Dep't of Justice forced ES&S to sell PES to a DoJ-approved buyer (which turned out to be Dominion Voting Systems (DVS)) "to restore competition." (Dominion Voting Systems, which had purchased the assets that ES&S was forced to sell, soon afterward also purchased Sequoia Voting Systems (SVS); see its entry immediately below.)
Regardless of the sale's details, many key PES personnel were then immediately hired by DVS, where many remain employed to this day.
Sequoia Voting Systems (SVS) (at various times based in the U.S., Ireland, the U.K., Venezuela, and the Netherlands).
By the time DVS bought it in 2010Â—SVS's voting and ballot-tabulating machines were counting about a quarter of all U.S. elections, making its recent history even more noteworthy.
SVS was privately held for over 100 years. In the late 1800s, it allegedly invented the lever-style mechanical voting machine that quickly became the standard voting machine in use across the U.S.
In the 1980s, Sequoia was bought by Jefferson Smurfit, an Irish printing conglomerate. Some years afterward, Smurfit sold SVS to De La Rue, a British currency-paper printing and security company.
In 1984, SVS purchased the voting-machine division of AVM Corporation.
SVS sported an impressive rogue's gallery of unsavory, long-term employees, many of whom are still employed by DVS. For example, in 1973, SVS founder Lloyd A. Dixon, Jr. resigned as CEO and president to serve prison time for bribing election officials in Buffalo, NY.
Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, chairman of the board of one of SVS's later owners (now U.K.-based election-industry leader Smartmatic International Corp) had earlier been vice-chairman of George Soros's Investment Funds, vice-chairman of George Soros's Open Society Institute, vice-chairman of the World Economic Forum, and a vice-president of the World Bank.)
In 2001, a later VP of SVSÂ—Phil FosterÂ—was indicted by a grand jury for a decade-long kickback scheme with a Louisiana election official in charge of buying voting machines. Foster avoided prosecution/conviction by supplying testimony regarding the scandal implicating others, such as David PhilbotÂ—SVS's agent in LouisianaÂ—who was convicted of a 1999 bribery of a state election official. Yet Phil Foster remained one of ES&S's key employees for years afterward.
Over the years, SVS incorporated into its own staff multiple former state and local election officials, including (but certainly not limited to): a Denver, CO Election Commission executive director (Mike Frontera) in 1998; a California Secretary of State (Bill Jones) in 2003; and Jones' spokesman as Secretary of State (Alfie Charles) also around 2003.
In a typical example of such a hiring's context, in 2002, then California Secretary of State Bill Jones had sponsored a successful $200-million industry-backed bond measure (Proposition 41) that gave California counties money with which to buy new computerized voting machines from companiesÂ—such as SVSÂ—that made and programmed them. In 2003, Jones was suddenly hired by SVS as a paid consultant, while his former state aide was hired by SVS as VP for business development.
Also in 2003, SVS entered into a (temporary?) partnership with the heavily defense-and-intelligence-tied election-machine company VoteHere, Inc. (see its entry further below; also, try a Google search). From this partnership, an "electronic ballot verification system" (meaning that individual cast ballots could be linked to individual voters) was to be built into subsequently manufactured SVS voting machines.
In 2004, the former Denver Election Commission executive director, Mike Frontera (who had since become an SVS employee) plus another SVS employee were witnessed directly and illegally accessing and altering the activities of the vote-tabulation machines during a key Riverside County, CA election. (CA Election Code (Sec. 18575) makes it a felony for anyone other than an "appointed and qualified election officer" to "handle, count, or canvass ballots." Yet this law wasÂ—in effectÂ—ignored by state officials.)
In March 2005, SVS was acquired by Smartmatic, a then-Venezuela-based technology company.
In 2007, upon investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives' 'Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States,' Smartmatic was ordered to sell SVS's assets, which it did... to SVS managers who had U.S. citizenship!
In 2009, SVS acquired about half of the election-machine assets of Premier Election Solutions (PES) of Diebold, Inc. after a U.S. Department of Justice anti-trust investigation of PES's sale to Election Systems & Software (ES&SÂ—see its own entry below). Under the agreement, the other half of PES's election-machine assets went to Dominion Voting of Canada (see its own entry above).
In June 2010, SVS and its key personnel were acquired by Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems.
Further eye-opening information about SVS and its personnel (now Dominion's) can be found here and here.
Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) (based in Omaha, Nebraska).
ES&S is a privately held company thatÂ—with its voting and ballot-tabulating machinesÂ—counts roughly 40% of U.S. elections votes. This makes its sordid history all the more eye opening.
Founded in 1976 by the Urosevich brothers (ToddÂ—a former IBM salesmanÂ—and Robert ("Bob")) with financing from the Ahmanson family, this company was initially called Data Mark.
** (NOTE: The names of Bob and Todd Urosevich come up repeatedly in many key election-machine industry activities. Both have been extremely partisan (Republican), with heavy, long-term investments inÂ—and advocacy forÂ—computer-based election-related industries.) **
At first, DataMark provided the marketing, sales, and servicing for Westinghouse Corp.'s optical ballot scanners.
Soon after Data Mark's founding, the Ahmanson family bought a majority share of Data Mark stock.
Around 1979, the Ahmanson family had the company's name changed to American Information Systems (AIS), with Bob Urosevich serving as AIS President until 1992.
In 1987, the Ahmansons sold their majority AIS stock share to the Omaha World Herald and the McCarthy Group.
By 1985, Texas-based Cronus Industries, Inc. had brought in a voting equipment programming and manufacturing subsidiary, Business Records Corporation (BRC).
In 1990, Cronus spun off BRC.
In late 1996, AIS attempted to merge with BRC. The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice intervened, however, delaying the merger while they found a way to prevent the merged companies from forming an effective monopoly.
In 1997, the BRC/AIS merger was finalized after a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust investigation forced AIS to share BRC's election machines with Sequoia Voting Systems (SVS; see its own entry above, under "Dominion Voting Systems").
After this mergerÂ—which incorporated most employees of both companiesÂ—the two were reorganized into "Election Systems and Software" (ES&S).
Here's just one example out of many suspicious election results involving AIS/ES&S voting machines: Around 1996, AIS's chairman, Chuck Hagel (later to be appointed U.S. Secretary of Defense during President Obama's second term), left AIS to campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Oklahoma. Interestingly, all votes cast in that 1996 election were counted on the computerized election machines programmed and manufactured by his former employer, AIS (soon thereafter to be renamed Election Systems & Software (ES&S)). During that election's campaign and vote, Hagel continued to own millions of dollars of stock in the McCarthy Group, which was (and still is) a co-owner of AIS/ES&S, yet he lied about that fact at the time. In his 1996 election, Hagel won the Senate seat in a stunning election landslide victory, not only garnering over 15% more of the vote than any polls had predicted, but also having "among the largest margins of victory in any statewide race in Nebraska's history."
In the late 1990s, Bob Urosevich moved over to (alleged) competitor Global Election Systems (GES, which subsequently became Diebold Elections Systems, Inc. and later PES (see its own entry under "Dominion Voting Systems," above).
In 2002, top ES&S executive Tom Eschberger (p. 8 of linked .pdf file) admitted to assisting then Arkansas Secretary of State Bill McCuen in taking bribes, evading taxes, and accepting kickbacks in connection with BRC-voting-machines purchases made by Louisiana in the 1990s. Yet Eschberger remained employed by ES&S for many years thereafter.
Also in 2002, ES&S hired Sandra Motham as a lobbyist. Motham had been Florida Secretary of State from 1995-99 and had been a running mate with Jeb Bush, founding Women for Jeb [Bush], the then-Gov. Bush re-election committee. While lobbying for ES&S, Motham was also lobbying for the Florida Association of Counties, which was endorsing ES&S voting machines. Thus, it was particularly revealing when a Palm Beach Post investigation uncovered that this Association had received a $300,000 commission (a.k.a., 'a kickback') from ES&S after Florida counties were allowed by the state legislature to order multi-million dollar quantities of those voting machines.
In 2004, ES&S was caught by Indiana officials installing uncertified software into its voting machines and attempting to cover it up. An ES&S employeeÂ—Wendy OrangeÂ—had became a whistleblower in the local print and TV-news media and reported the crimes of her employer to the Marion County Clerk, Doris Sadler. Although the latter said she was now "questioning the credibility of" ES&S, its illegal acts never seemed to result in any significant penalty to ES&S. The Marion Co. Election Board held an emergency meeting, and Orange testified regarding ES&S's unethical and illegal actions. Yet ES&S simply denied everything, and state/county authoritiesÂ—in effectÂ—did little to nothing of significance about it.
Also in 2004, ES&S employees showed up unexpectedly with "software patches" to install in ES&S voting machines immediately prior to the general election in Ohio.
In 2005, ES&S was again caught installing uncertified software into its Indiana machinesÂ—and then lying about it. While ultimately fined, it only ended up paying $1.2 million as settlement to Marion County, IN. (In spite of this, these same ES&S machines are still used in most Indiana elections today.)
By 2005, ES&S's annual revenues had reached $117 million.
By 2007, ES&S had become the largest manufacturer/programmer of voting machines in the U.S., with 350 employees and customers in 1,700 localities.
In 2009, ES&S was forced to pay $3.25 million to California for having sold it election machines containing unauthorized hardware changes.
Also in 2009, ES&S hired Kathy Rogers, a former Georgia State Director of Elections. (In 2002, Rogers had been responsible for implementing Georgia's new voting system based on Diebold's Premier Election Solutions' (PES's) machines in time for an election with significant, beyond-chance discrepancies between pre-election polls and PES-machine-counted results).
Again in 2009, ES&S announced the purchase of PES.
Today, ES&S has been primarily owned by "The World Companies," whichÂ—in turnÂ—have been owned by Peter Kiewit & Sons, a privately held multinational company providing construction of U.S. military installations, communications, and roads around the world. Over the years, key Kiewit personnel have been convicted of unfair trade practices and bid-rigging in at least 11 states and two countries, resulting in prison time for several key executives.
Kiewit is itself currently a subsidiary of two co-owners: (a) the McCarthy Group, LLC, a jointly held holding firm, and (b) the Omaha World-Herald Company, publisher of Nebraska's largest newspaper.
Further information about ES&S can be found in: a Google search of the company here; a Sept. 25, 2009 complaint to U.S. DOJ; a search for ES&S items on BradBlog.com here; and a search for relevant ES&S items on non-BradBlog sites here.
The ES&S corporate website is here.
Everyone Counts, Inc. (EC) (based in San Diego, CA; branches in Australia, Canada, and the UK).
Everyone Counts' (EC's) mission is to "transform elections" with its software, away from "error-prone manual and paper processes," which were "our grandparents way of voting." EC provides elections administration, online voting systems (including for overseas U.S. military personnel), and similar ventures.
EC was founded in 1996 by Lori Steele Contorer (currently CEO, previously a vice-president of Citigroup), who is touted on EC's website as "the world's top expert in election modernization."
Staff, board, and adviser backgrounds include U.S. Army counter-intelligence, Northrup-Grumman, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), ES&S (see entry above), and HartInterCivic (HIC; see entry below). At least one board memberÂ—Paul DeGregorioÂ—also sits on the board of Smartmatic International Corp. (see above under 'Sequoia Voting Solutions' (SVS)).
EC also advocates and implements highly vulnerable online voting systems that are independent of dedicated voting machines and so can be used on any Internet-enabled computer, tablet, or smartphone. On its corporate website, Everyone Counts claims (presenting no evidence whatsoever) that their systems have had "zero elections contested or breached."
"No matter the forces working against using modern technology to ensure access, accuracy, and reliability in elections, we won't give up," claims a 2016 press release.
Everyone Counts also claims that "the technical workings of any software used for electronic voting are open for independent auditing and review by election officials," which neatly excludes members of the general public.
Further information from BradBlog.com about Everyone Counts' shenanigans is available here, and a general Google search about it is here.
Everyone Counts' corporate website is here.
Hart InterCivic (HIC) (a privately held company; currently based in Austin, Texas).
Hart entered the elections industry in 1912, printing ballots for Texas counties.
In 1989, the companyÂ—formerly a division of Hart Graphics, Inc.Â—became "Hart Forms & Services."
In 1995, the organization changed its name again to Hart Information Services, Inc.
By the late 1990s, the company (now "Hart Information Services" (HIS)) bought and effectively melded with three other election-industry corporations.
In 1999, HIS spun off completely from Hart Graphics
By that time, David HartÂ—HIC's then chairmanÂ—had arranged for significant funding of HIC via major investors from Big Oil (including Triton Energy and Amerada Hess, Triton's owner) and Big Politics (including at least two major HIC investors who had invested millions of dollars in the Republican Party and its candidates).
In 2000, the company was named Hart InterCivic, Inc.
In 2003, HIC hired Kathryn FergusonÂ—a former VP from SVS [see SVS entry above] and former election administrator of major counties in Texas, Nevada, and California who had arranged for those areas the purchasing and deploying of computerized voting machines in those states.
In 2007, a report was commissioned by Ohio's Secretary of State regarding problems posed by the voting and ballot tabulating machines of HIC and PES (see PES entry under Dominion Voting's entry above). Called the "EVEREST Report," it was released in 2008 and declared that "all studied voting machines lacked the basic protections for guaranteeing election integrity." It also stated that "there is a veritable sea of previously undetected functionality in the Hart system.... [W]e found... only a tiny fraction of the features enabled through undocumented software triggers, e.g., Windows registry entries... . [I]t will be practically impossible to detect attacks when they occur." Nevertheless, little or no remedial actions were ever taken by Ohio's state government in response.
In 2011, HIC was purchased by HIG Capital. Ever since, three HIG directors have controlled HIC.
Two other HIG board members have donated at least $50,000 each to the campaign of Mitt Romney, the 2008 Republican candidate for president. Also, Solamere CapitalÂ—which partly owns HIGÂ—continues to have significant financial ties with pro-large-corporation political causes and candidates.
Today, HIC's ballot-tabulating and related machines count roughly 10% of the US public's vote.
Further information about HIC can be found here (a Google search for relevant HIC items on BradBlog.org), here (a Google search for relevant HIC items on non-BradBlog sites), and here (the HIC section in Black Box Voting).
HIC's corporate website is here.
Scytl USA (Scytl) (Currently based in Baltimore, MD (and/or Oklahoma City, OK... and/or Tampa, FL... see below for details.) (Scytl USA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Scytl Secure Electronic Voting (Scytl SEV), based in Barcelona, Spain.)
Scytl SEV specializes in electronic and Internet voting systems. As Scytl SEV confidently describes itself, it is "the global leader in providing state-of-the-art electronic voting and electoral modernization solutions."
Scytl SEV was founded in Barcelona in 2001 by Andreu Riera, Ph.D. (cryptography) of the University of Barcelona and allied investors. Five years later, he died in a single-car crash in Barcelona.
Scytl SEV's original investors included Balderton Capital, the British subsidiary of Benchmark Capital. BenchmarkÂ—like another Scytl investor, Barcelona-based Nauta CapitalÂ—is also invested in various intelligence-related projects (e.g., key-press monitoring software by CarrierIQ for smartphones that logs all user activities and also can completely undo security measures that Scytl SEV might insert into its e-voting systems. CarrierIQ has been called "Scytl USA's sister company," since both are partly funded by Nauta Capital).
At least through 2006, Bob Urosevich (also a key player at PES and ES&S; see their entries above) was the managing director of Scytle USA.
Scytl USA's geographical journey has also been interesting. From about 2006 to 2011, the address of Scytl USA's headquarters was given on Scytl's website led to a mail-box-drop address in Washington, DC. In 2010, the location of Scytl USA's headquartersÂ—as registered with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)Â—had been listed as that of a private home in suburban Richmond, VA, about 60 miles south of DC. From 2011 to 2013, Scytl USA's address on Scytl's website changed to that of a single office in Baltimore, MD, about 60 miles north of DC (apparently without any on-site employees, and at an address shared with about 17 unrelated organizations.) Only in 2012 was Scytl USA's locationÂ—as registered with the EAC up to the present day (2016)Â—listed as that same Baltimore address. Nevertheless, from 2013 to the present, Scytl's contact webpage has also listed Tampa, FL as Scytl USA's address, the same address as that of SOE Software (Scytl purchased SOE Software in 2012; see immediately below). Since 2014, Scytl's contact webpage has listed two addresses for Scytl USA: one at the Tampa, FL address and another in Oklahoma City, OK.
More interesting Scytl factoids:
In 2010 and 2011, Scytl USA received over $800,000 in contract funding from the U.S. Department of Defence for "computer programming."
Also in 2011, Scytl hired as its director of U.S. operations Paul Stenbjorn, the former head of the Washington, DC Board of Elections, a former manager at the VA Board of Elections, and a long-time advocate for computer-based voting systems.
In 2012, Scytle acquired SOE software of Tampa, FL, thus "creating the industry leader in the election-software market... from Internet voting to election night reporting... ." Scytl now is particularly keen to establish an Internet-based voting system, which is understandable, given that Scytl would control both that voting system and (via SOE Software) its elections-results reporting system, which is now used in many U.S. elections.
By August 2014, Scytle SEV had received over $113 million in investor funding. This included $40 million from MicroSoft co-founder Paul Allen's venture capital firm, Vulcan Capital.
Links to the above and further unsettling information about Scytle are here and here.
Scytle's corporate website is here.
Triad Governmental Systems, Inc. (Triad GSI) (based in Xenia, Ohio).
Triad GSI manufactures voting machines, writes computer programs to count Ohio's votes, is a de facto officially sanctioned administrator of Ohio's elections, and thus is always intimately involved in every Ohio election.
Triad GSI was co-founded in 1982 by Tod A. Rapp, currently the company's president and "a consistent contributor to Republican causes," to provide support for election products of his first company, Rapp Systems Corp., which was founded in 1979.
In 2000, a Rapp-family-owned company, Psephos Corp., designed and supplied the now notorious "hanging-chads" butterfly ballot used in the infamous Palm Beach County, FL election that year.
In Ohio's 2004 general election, Triad GSI and two affiliated companiesÂ—GovTech Solutions and SMARTechÂ—worked closely together to route Ohio's electronic votes to a Republican-Party affiliated company's Internet server physically located in Chatanooga, TN.
In December 2004, a U.S. Representative John Conyers' Congressional investigation into the many "irregularities" of Ohio's 2004 election received an affidavit from the Deputy Director of Elections for Hocking County, OH. In it, she stated thatÂ—several days earlierÂ—a Triad GSI employee had: (1) illegally obtained access to both the voting machinery and election-related records there; (2) disassembled and modified the County's central vote-tabulating computer immediately before and after the official state government announcement had been made initiating the 2004 election recount of a small percentage of Ohio counties (of which Hocking Co. was to be one); and (3) taught Hocking Co. election officials how to manipulate their voting machines to ensure that a hand recount there would match the voting-machines total count. All these acts were illegal under both state and federal election laws. Triad GSI employees also similarly intervened in the election recounts in Greene, Monroe, and other Ohio counties. The above-mentioned Hocking Co. Deputy Director of Elections was subsequently fired by that County soon after making her affidavit.
From at least 2000 to 2004, GovTechÂ—a company founded and headed by GOP Internet-technology (IT) 'wizard'Â—Michael ConnellÂ—designed and managed the IT system for the U.S. House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. In similar ways, Connell and GovTech had also worked closely with Triad GSI in election management capacities for Ohio. In 2004, this election management included electronically diverting Ohio's citizens' electronically recorded votes into a Republican-National-Committee-supported server in Chatanooga, TN, before being rerouted and finally released to the public via another server in Ohio. Had he lived, Connell would likely have testified in a major court case that alleged election tampering in Ohio's 2004 election (Ohio being a key election to winning the U.S. presidency).
(Given that Triad GSI was intimately involved with GovTech's 2004 operations, the outlines of the Connell affair must at least be noted here.) On Dec. 19, 2008, six weeks after Connell had been deposed to give information relevant to the lawsuitÂ—but before he could be called to testify in courtÂ—Connell died suddenly in a dramatic single-pilot plane crash while approaching the Akron, OH airport, seconds before which (allegedly according to control-tower recordings made during the event) the plane's "cockpit bursts open and engine goes haywire." To top it off, the crash's immediate aftermath was handled by authorities in unusual ways, including a "full-[control]-tower lockdown" and NTSB teams being sent on site to stay and work overnight under full-stadium-like lighting starting the night of the crash (most NTSB investigations wait until the following morning to begin in similarly timed crashes). See here, here, and here for supporting details. According to his lawyer, Mr. Connell also had been repeatedly threatened in the several months leading up to his death.
A Google search of BradBlog.com for "Triad" + "Election" is here.
Triad GSI's corporate website is here.
Unisyn Voting Solutions (UVS) (based in Vista, CA).
Although incorporated in California since 1994 (enter search term "Unisyn"), UVS is actually a subsidiary of International Lottery & Totalizator Systems, Inc. (ILTS), a Malaysian provider of gambling and digital-voting systems (interesting combination). According to its website and SEC reports, ILTS "designs, manufactures, sells, manages, supports, and services computerized wagering systems and terminals for the global lottery and pari-mutuel racing industries," as well as "federally certified end-to-end optical scan voting systems and a full-featured Election Management Software that provides precinct tabulation, ballot review, and audio-voting capability." In its turn, ILTS is owned by the Berjaya Corporation Group, an even larger Malayasian for-profit corporation.
UVS's website boasts of its transparency regarding its vote-tabulating software, but also declares that this only applies to "trusted jurisdictions officials" who are "part of a jurisdiction's procurement process"; definitely not to the general public. Regardless of stated policies of "transparency," that source code is still "proprietary," which allows disclosure only to the extent that its owner sees fit.
Although UVS provides a key component of U.S. democracyÂ—counting the votes of 'We the People'Â—it is ultimately seen as less important than are the financial interests of this key component's for-profit corporate owners (who are based outside the U.S., no less).
Just in time for the 2016 primary elections and for millions in tax money, Virginia election officials have already procured and fielded thousands of Unisyn's "OpenElectÂ®" optical-scanning, electronic-vote-tabulating systems in precincts throughout the state.
UVS's corporate website is unisynvoting.com.
VoteHere, Inc. (previously based in Bellevue, WA; out of business since 2007).
Founded by professional cryptographer Jim Adler in 1998, VoteHere was "a pioneer in the development of ... electronic voting, both online and offline."
VoteHere's board of directors included notable military and intelligence agency movers and shakers, including Robert M. Gates (former CIA director and a former director of Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAICÂ—one of the biggest defense contractors in the world)), and Admiral William Owen (former SAIC vice-chairman and a Defense Policy Board member). VoteHere also hired as a staff member Ralph Munro, the former Secretary of State for the state of Washington and a vociferous pro-e-voting advocate.
In 2003, VoteHere entered into a partnership with Sequoia Voting Systems (SVSÂ—see its own entry under Dominion Voting, further above) for providing "electronic-ballot verification" within SVS's election machines (which could thus associate any given cast ballot with a particular voter).
Currently, Mr. Adler is a Vice President at Metanautix, "a big-data analytics startup." He also advises Helios VotingÂ—a non-profit organization that advocates Internet-based voting systemsÂ—and the Department of Homeland Security on data-security issues.
Further information regarding VoteHere's activities are here (starting on p. 73).