OK, right off the bat, I have done a LOT of work on e-voting activism over the years starting with the Diebold fiasco starting back in 2002. For those who wish to bother and check my bona fides , I served on the NC Select Committee on Electronic Voting in 2005 which helped draft one of the toughest e-voting laws in the nation. I WAS associated with Bev Harris back in the day, but haven't been since 2004. I coined the term "black box voting". While I view paperless voting as a major threat to transparent and accurate elections, I do NOT subscribe to the numerous theories out on the net that various elections were stolen using touch screen voting machines (Diebold's or anyone elses). I am a hard facts kind of guy with a computer hardware/software background. In my view, there is plenty of hard evidence to invalidate the use of ANY paperless voting system without resorting to skullduggery. That said, the use of a voting system without tangible ballots makes skullduggery easier.
One thing I have told many election officials and voting machine execs over the years is constant: If you don't want to be inundated with conspiracy theories about criminal misconduct and stolen elections, do not behave in a manner which fuels such speculation.
Do not, for example, have the CEO of your company head up the GOP election efforts and write letters telling people "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president [Bush]" when you make voting machines used in that same election.Do not hold secret meetings with other voting machine makers where you conspire to undermine independent testing of voting machines.
And now, we have the latest move down below the spaghetti code found in your typical Diebold voting machine
Private equity firm H.I.G. Capital, LLC bought out a “significant” portion of Hart in July of 2011, and now the majority of Hart’s board directors are employees of H.I.G. (It’s not entirely clear how much of the voting machine company H.I.G. owns, but the financial advisors responsible for the transaction state that “Hart Intercivic was acquired by HIG Capital.”)There is plenty more at the link, by all means, read up and look at the sources.
- H.I.G. was founded by Tony Tamer, a former Bain employee and bundler for Mitt Romney’s campaign.
- Of H.I.G.’s 22 American directors, 21 donated to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. One person made no political donations at all; one person donated to both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama; the remaining 20 directors donated exclusively to Mitt Romney in 2012. (See below for links to donations.)
- Of these 22 American directors, seven of them (nearly one-third) are former Bain employees. Now, we should note (as a reader helpfully pointed out), this is Bain & Co., where Mitt Romney used to work way back when and then left in order to start the affiliated Bain Capital. The connection is therefore a little more tenuous, but we still find H.I.G.’s overwhelming allegiance and financial support of the Romney campaign surprising (not that it’s surprising that a private equity company would lean Republican, but this level of support is pretty unusual).
Now, I think I am on firm ground when I say that voting machine companies should be like Caesar's wife, beyond all reproach. Having political/business cronies running a voting machine company is the very definition of "improper" in my opinion. But, before people get carried away with scenarios of stolen elections using dodgy computer code, let me point out that it would be quite easy to "influence" an election without all that much effort. All one has to do is control machine deployment. If the number of "functional" machines were to become in short supply on election day, and if the "malfunctioning" machines tended to be in key precincts, it would certainly be possible to affect an election, possibly decisively.
Such a scheme is far safer than actual screwing with the code, since, despite what you read online, is not as easy as some would have you believe without leaving evidence of tampering. No, machine failure is far easier to manage (and is a simple variation of vote suppression being perpetrated in states right now) especially as the code in these machines are the software equivalent of the Ford Pinto.
So, please, if we are to discuss this issue, and I feel it very much needs to be addressed, let us concentrate on the impropriety of Romney partisans owning a voting machine company that will count Romney votes, and the ease at which an election could be affected by the failure of the company to deliver RELIABLE machines on election day.
10:08 AM PT: According to the Ohio SoS site, only two counties use H-I machines, Williams and Hamilton. Do any Ohio folks know how accurate that information is? This is less of a problem if it is only two counties, but still, in a close election....
I am old enough to remember a presidential election decided by 527 votes in Florida.