Monday, September 29, 2003

Can the election be stolen? 

Buzzflash today is posting an interview with Bev Harris:

Bev Harris, author of Black Box Voting: Ballot-Tampering in the 21st Century has provided numerous articles on voting machine ownership, errors and security to news publications worldwide. In writing Black Box Voting, she spent over two thousand hours researching voting machines, and interviewed dozens of witnesses including many election officials and even voting machine programmers who work directly for the firms that build these machines. Harris owns Talion.com, a publicity firm, and has been writing professionally for 10 years. She is also the author of "How to Embezzle a Fortune", tips on how to identify accounting fraud and recover embezzled funds.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

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: Election.com, 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.