When it rains it pours.
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.
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.