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When it rains it pours.

This is a followup to my early Monday morning diary on Dan Rather’s Tuesday night story on HD Net. (story not yet available for download)

It seems the troubles are just beginning for ES&S.

The Federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC), recently charged with overseeing the testing and certification of voting machines has discovered that ES&S has failed to disclose the foreign facility’s role in assembling its voting machines. As part of the overseeing process, voting machine companies are required to disclose the names and locations of all manufacturing and assembling facilities.

According to a letter that the EAC sent to ES&S (PDF) on Tuesday, the voting machine manufacturer failed to disclose the existence of the Manila, Philippines sweatshop that has assembled the ES&S machines for several years, although the company did submit a list of other facilities involved in the manufacturing and assembling of the machines.

Wired’s Threat Level Blog has the story:

The Manila factory, Teletech, was uncovered by producers working for Dan Rather Reports, which will be airing an hour-long special tonight on HDNet entitled The Trouble with Touch Screens. The program discloses that workers at the Manila sweatshop earn between $2.15 and $2.50 a day assembling ES&S machines, and that the touch-screens had a high failure rate and received little to no testing before being sent back to the states and sold to counties.

ES&S did not respond to a call for comment but the EAC released the list that ES&S submitted regarding its manufacturing facilities.

Here it is:

FutureLogic; Phoenix, AZPivot International; Lenexa, KS Ricoh Electronics; Tustin, CA Technical Support , Inc; Omaha, NE Xten Industries; Kenosha, WI.

Notice that ES&S's list does include Pivot International, based in Kansas, but it does not mention that Pivot actually has the machines assembled at the Teletech factory in Manila. This raises questions about other manufacturers listed. How many of them are listed in the U.S. but actually do the manufacturing and assembling of voting machines overseas?

The EAC also provided me with a list of manufacturing facilities disclosed by other voting machine makers. For that complete list, follow the jump below.

After Wired’s article was published, ES&S responded to queries asking about the reason why the Manila factory didn’t appear on its list of manufacturers by stating that it was an "unintentional oversight" and that the company would promptly update the list sent to the EAC and "ensure future reports contain all information required."

Back to Wired:

ES&S spokesman Ken Fields also stated that ES&S did provide information about the Manila factory to the U.S. testing labs that previously were responsible for conducting certification tests on voting machines and that those testing authorities had conducted "quarterly audits" of the Manila factory "for years."

If this is the case, it would be interesting to know why those apparent audits never uncovered the sweatshop conditions that Dan Rather's producers uncovered at the Manila factory or that an American manager discovered at the factory in 2001 -- the manager told Rather that he had to haul away truckloads of rats, snakes and other refuse from the factory.

The article notes that another company name is missing from the list of manufacturers. The company in question is the Minnesota-based Berquist Company, which is responsible for making the touch-screens.

When asked, Fields didn’t respond to the question about why Berquist never made it on the list before now. It is unknown whether the company is still under contract with ES&S. But, according to an affidavit filed in a Minnesota lawsuit, in 2002, a former material scientist for Berquist urged a recall of the touch-screens they made for ES&S and sent to the sweatshop in Manila for integration into the voting machines.

The scientist, Patricia Dunn, warned that the screens were likely to misbehave in humid weather, such as that found in Florida and other states that use the ES&S machines. Mark Cuban, a founder of HDNet, discusses Dunn's affidavit on his blog. (emphasis added)

Out of the list below, only three voting machine companies - Advanced Voting Solutions, Dominion, and Sequoia - list any manufacturers outside U.S. borders.

Advanced Voting Solutions, Inc.
Galaxy Commutech Limited; Hong Kong
Dominion Voting Systems Corp.
Solectron EMS Canada; Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
MicroArt Services, Inc.; Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Dominion Voting Systems; Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Hart InterCivic, Inc.
Suntron, Inc.; Sugar Land
McDonald Technologies; Farmers Branch, Texas
MicroVote General Corporation
Carson Manufacturing Company, Inc.; Indianapolis, IN
GEMPLUS; Philadelphia, PA
Chatsworth Data Corporation; Chatsworth
Sequoia Voting Systems
Jaco Electronics, Inc.; Hauppauge, NY
Harvard Manufacturing Group; Owego, NY
Jarltech; Hsin Tien, Taipei, Taiwan
Election Systems & Software (ES&S)
FutureLogic; Phoenix, AZ
Pivot International; Lenexa, KS
Ricoh Electronics; Tustin, CA
Technical Support , Inc; Omaha, NE
Xten Industries; Kenosha, WI
TruVote International, Inc.
Salt Lake City, UT
Avante International Technology, Inc.
Princeton Junction, NJ
Diebold Election Systems Inc.
Lexington, NC
Unisyn Voting Solutions
Election Systems & Software (ES&S); Vista, NE

It’s difficult to know how far this story will go from here. Apparently it’s going to be one of those cases where the constant drip, drip of malpractice and illegalities committed by ES&S and other companies will be with us for the long run. And, that makes it even harder to hold the company accountable, and those who hired them in the first place.

I have a distinct feeling that Henry Waxman will be raring to go with hearings on this whole debacle when he comes back from August recess; if for no other reason than to avoid calling hearings on the Sibel Edmonds case – the one case, Waxman apparently wishes would just disappear off the face of the planet.

Well, don’t count on it, Henry. We’re not going to let you forget about it, believe me.

There’s definitely there there.


Originally posted to markthshark on Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 03:06 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for sticking with this, Mark. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lcrp, Pokerdad, markthshark

    It's good to keep a finger on the pulse of this sick beast...we need to know that we're beating it until it's dead.

    Unfortunately, it appears to have several lives.



    Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
      Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
    Tempest even in reason's seat.

    by GreyHawk on Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 03:46:15 AM PDT

    •  It certainly does appear that way. It's really... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lcrp, GreyHawk

      starting to get difficult to wrap my head around all this. It just never stops.

      I wouldn't shy away from saying that some other aspect of this debacle will come to light before long. (I hope it's Rove's involvement.)

      I just know he's neck deep in this swamp somehow. His grubby fingerprints are all over this.

      Waxman's going to be busy.

      •  Yes, Waxman's got his work cut out for him. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Hopefully, he'll be able to see it through to the terminal nexus and achieve full insight, indictments and convictions where they are sorely needed.

        Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
          Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
        Tempest even in reason's seat.

        by GreyHawk on Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 04:02:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What is so difficult about just banning (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lcrp, G2geek, Pokerdad, markthshark

    these machines?!?!

    I realize that counties spent a lot of money on these things, but that's their mistake for rushing into such a critical purchase without fully investigating the product.

    There's plenty of proof there are problems with these machines.  Just get rid of all machines that don't have a voter-verifiable paper record of their own vote.

    •  I know, it sounds simple. Decertify the machines. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lcrp, G2geek

      and slap 'em with jail time and [at least] a $10,000,000 fine.

    •  Voter verifiable paper records mean nothing (0+ / 0-)

      Nevada has them and they print out what I voted for on a nicely sealed, non-touchable print roll (thank you Dean Heller). HOWEVER, how can we verify what prints out and what the software registers? We can't, unless there is a recount of every machine in every polling place. The first time Nevada used these machines, the assistant kept saying, "the print-outs will never be seen, the print-outs will never be seen...unless there's an official recount." She kept repeating that and it made me very nervous. My solution is to hand me my printed ballot from these hermetically sealed rolls and let me place that into the ballot box with my own hands to be counted. Is that too much to ask? These machines may make vote counting more expeditious, however, are they correct? Call me cynical, but I don't think they do.

      Eliminate the electoral college NOW. One person, one vote. No more middlemen!

      by Logical One on Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 08:34:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        well that's what I really meant.

        There's nothing wrong with touch-screen voting machines as long as they're just used to make it easier for the voter to complete an official paper ballot.

        You can use the software count to create instantaneous vote counts for early estimates, but make that an unofficial figure.  Optically scan the voter-verified paper ballots and that's your official vote count.

        I saw a machine that did exactly that awhile back on one of the sites that exposes the e-voting machines.  They were promoting it as the proper alternative.  I can't seem to find it now though. :/

        Feingold is my hero

        by Marc in CA on Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 02:32:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  the Dan Rather story on HD Net (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lcrp, G2geek, Pokerdad, markthshark

    also reported on the bad paper used in Florida's punch ballots that created all those chads...

    that report was really something.  i sent the story to the Dem Party chair in my state -- especially since our state uses ES&S machines (and it does get humid here!).

  •  Shake-dpwn Test (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lcrp, Pokerdad, Logical One

    I do not know Chuck Hagel's (R.Ne) current status but as late as 2002, he was listed as an owner of ES&S, and these were the voting machines that were used in his landslide elections in 1996 and 2002.  It raises a Hmm among some...

    Dan Rather's report illustrates how these machines are so totally flawed, down to the final literal shake-down test:  a worker literally shakes the voting machine to check for loose screws or things that move that shouldn't be moving.

    "Man's life's a vapor Full of woe. He cuts a caper, Down he goes. Down de down de down he goes.

    by JFinNe on Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 05:36:20 AM PDT

  •  We need to ban these faulty, hackable machines (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Logical One, markthshark

    We should get back to basics and use paper ballots, with monitored vote counting.

    We the people are the deciders - Molly Ivans

  •  In 2004 I queried the my county election (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    officials about the use of ES&S machines and made sure they were aware of the problems reported from other parts of Ohio and across the nation. The "strange" thing is that in this always conservative, pro-Bush county the machines worked (as far as is known) without any problems. While just a few miles away around Akron in an area with more registered Democrats, the machines and in particular the e-cards in the machines had numerous problems which had to be "fixed" right up to the elections.

    I want to hear somebody asking them why They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are But theyre never the ones to fight or to die - J. Brown

    by OHdog on Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 07:34:07 AM PDT

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