Last updated on: 5/19/2008 | Author: ProCon.org

Is It Appropriate for Private Electronic Voting Machine Manufacturers to Facilitate Public Elections?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

John R. Patrick, Doctor of Health Administration (DHA), President of Attitude LLC and former Vice President of Internet Technology at IBM, in his 2016 book titled Election Attitude: How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy, wrote:

“At one point, there were 19 voting machine companies listed in the Federal Election Commission Buyers Guide, but the guide is no longer available. Through a series of mergers, acquisitions, and business failures, the voting machine industry currently is dominated by the three companies. All three companies are privately held and do not disclose their revenue or profits.

Dominion Voting Systems Corporation is based in Toronto, Canada. It sells electronic voting and tabulating hardware around the world. In May 2010, Dominion acquired Premier Election Solutions, formerly Diebold Election Systems, from Election Systems & Software. They just had acquired Premier Election from Diebold, but were required by the United States Department of Justice to sell Premier Election Solutions for anti-trust concerns.

Election Systems & Software, based in Omaha, Nebraska, is the giant of the voting machine industry. In addition to a line of hardware products, the company provides equipment rental, print services, maintenance services, ballot management services, election support, professional services, and voter registration mailing services. The company’s equipment, software, and services are used by municipalities and counties throughout the U.S.

HartInterCivic based in Austin, Texas, has been working with election professionals for more than 100 years. The company makes a wide range of voting machines hardware and services. Its election services include consultation, training, professional services, preventative maintenance, and ballot production services. The company claims its mission is to help advance democracy one election at a time.”

2016 - John R. Patrick, DHA, LLB

The Voting Industry website included a list of electronic voting machine vendors, categorized into tiers based on their market prominence (accessed Aug. 17, 2006):

“First Tier voting systems vendors – We again consider First Tier vendors to be firms you simply can’t ignore. The grouping here is somewhat artificial. However, these are the big 4 vendors that control the lion’s share of the industry: Election Systems and Software [ES&S], Diebold Election Systems, Sequoia, and Hart Intercivic.

Second Tier voting systems vendors include: AccuPoll (has filed for bankruptcy), Advanced Voting Solutions, Avante, Unilect, and Voting Technologies International.

Internet and other voting system vendors – Here is a list of of Internet Voting Companies, Regional Voting Firms and Other elections firms that may have older or very new products: AutoMARK Corporation, Comfidex Corporation, Danaher Corporation, Democracy Systems, MicroVote, Populex, SafeVote [Internet voting systems only], Dategrity (formerly VoteHere), and TruVote.”

Aug. 17, 2006 - VotingIndustry.com

CorpWatch, a corporate watchdog website, published a Sep. 8, 2004 article titled “November Surprise: Electronic Voting Machines Add Uncertainty to Close Election Races,” which stated:

“The Federal Election Commission states that 19 companies produce DREs [as of Feb 20, 2003; list has since been removed from the FEC website; last attempt to access on Aug. 17, 2006], but the market is dominated by just four: Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Diebold Election Systems, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Hart Intercivic.

Between DREs and other voting technologies, machines of these four companies will tally nearly 100 million votes this Election Day, the vast majority of those cast. Furthermore, nearly 50 percent of precincts will use machines created by ES&S.”

Sep. 8, 2004 - CorpWatch

The Verified Voting Foundation included a list, organized in alphabetical order, of electronic voting machine vendors on its website (accessed Aug. 17, 2006):

“Advanced Voting Solutions; Avante International Technology; Danaher Controls; Diebold Election Systems; Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S); EVS (The Association of Electronic Voting Systems); Fidlar Doubleday; Hart InterCivic; MicroVote General Corporation; N.V. Nederlandsche Apparatenfabriek ‘Nedap’; Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc.; TruVote International, Inc.; Unilect Corporation; VoteHere, Inc.; and Voting Technologies International.”

Aug. 17, 2006 - Verified Voting Foundation

The Election Technology Council stated in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of their website (accessed Oct. 2005):

“The Election Technology Council (ETC) is a group of companies that offer products and services which support the electoral process and decided to work together to address common issues facing the industry. These companies believe that the voting infrastructure in the United State in pressing need of improvement, and that electronic systems introduce new levels of voting inclusiveness, accuracy, efficiency and accessibility…

Founding members of the ETC are: Advanced Voting Systems, Diebold Election Systems, Election Systems and Software, Hart InterCivic, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Unilect Corporation. The Council has been joined by Danaher Guardian Voting Systems, VoteHere, and Perfect Voting Systems.”

Oct. 2005 - Election Technology Council

PRO (yes)

Pro

The National Academy of Sciences 2005 report “Asking the Right Questions About Electronic Voting,” explained:

“Election administration has never been a function performed entirely by government. Indeed, private political associations (interest groups and political parties) have been involved in the administration of elections for a very long time. These private associations provided ballots under the ballot systems used before secret ballots were introduced.

Private firms have also been involved in election administration, a fact consistent with a trend over the last few decades of many local governments outsourcing certain functions that were previously managed and operated by those governments. There have been many reasons for this practice, including a belief that outsourcing will result in greater responsiveness and reduced costs…

In election administration, private firms have for many years routinely undertaken certain election administration tasks such as the design, layout, and printing of ballots – a practice that generates little controversy. But local government are also turning to private firms to provide electronic voting systems, to program them appropriately, and to repair and maintain them over time… Vendors are often the primary and most important source of expertise, and gone are the days when the county or municipality had its own staff to repair and program its lever machines.”

2005 - National Academy of Sciences (NAS)

Pro

Doug Jones, PhD, Associate Professor of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Iowa stated in his May 22, 2001 testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science:

“Today, we have a diverse marketplace [for electronic voting technologies], and the competition in this marketplace has fueled the development of a number of interesting ideas… If we had a monopoly, as the result of a national standard voting technology, this progress would end and we would be forced to accept a system with known flaws…

If there are 4 makers of voting systems, the gain to be had by subverting one is limited. If there is only one maker, it may only be necessary to subvert one or two people to rig next year’s elections nationwide! The fewer people you have to trust, the more vulnerable you are to the subversion of any one of those people! Dispersed authority is resilient in the face of challenges, while centralized authority is vulnerable to corruption!”

May 22 - Douglas W. Jones, PhD

Pro

David Hart, Chairman of electronic voting machine manufacturer Hart InterCivic, stated in a Dec. 9, 2003 press release to announce the formation of the Election Technology Council:

“Millions of citizens are casting ballots that would otherwise be lost without industry innovation. Millions more have the promise of voting a secret ballot for the first time. In short, this [electronic voting systems] industry plays an important role in building a stronger democracy for all Americans.”

Dec. 9, 2003 - David Hart

CON (no)

Con

Bev Harris, Executive Director of Black Box Voting, wrote in her 2004 book Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century:

“In a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions during the 1980s, local election-services companies sold control of our voting systems to a handful of corporations. During the 1990s, these corporations engaged in a pattern of setting up alliances and swapping key personnel that has given just a few people, some of whom have vested interests, far too much access to and influence over our voting systems.

This is not a computer-programming problem. It is a procedural matter, and part of the procedure must involve keeping human beings, as many of us as possible, in control of our own voting system. Any computerized voting system that requires us to trust a few computer scientists and some corporate executives constitutes flawed public policy. It doesn’t matter whether they come up with perfect cryptographic techniques or invent smart cards so clever they can recognize us by sight. The real problem is that we’ve created a voting system controlled by someone else.”

2004 - Bev Harris

Con

John Gideon, Executive Director of VotersUnite!, stated in his June 15, 2005 Vote TrustUSA website article titled “Corporate Control of the Election Process”:

“The vendors are the corporate face on our election systems – the for-profit companies that develop and sell the equipment used to run our elections. They are those who have the most to gain from the influence they buy through their donations and dues to to the alphabet soup [of organizations that oversee election procedures], and that influence is considerable…

The voting machine corporations are spending millions to influence the decisions that relate to the qualification and sales of voting systems. They are influencing the development of new voting system standards, whether those standards have to be followed, who buys what type of system, and every step in between. The vendors are in too much control. We can only wrest that control from the vendors by methodically putting out the facts to inform the misinformed and by reducing the vendors’ influence on our decision makers.”

June 15, 2005 - John Gideon

Con

Thom Hartmann, a journalist, stated in his Jan. 31, 2003 Common Dreams article “If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines”:

“Many citizens and even a few politicians are wondering if it’s a good idea for corporations to be so involved in the guts of our voting system. The whole idea of a democratic republic was to create a common institution (the government itself) owned by its citizens, answerable to its citizens, and authorized to exist and continue existing solely ‘by the consent of the governed.’…

Many citizens believe, however, that turning the programming and maintenance of voting over to private, for-profit corporations, answerable only to their owners, officers, and stockholders, puts democracy itself at peril.”

Jan. 31, 2003 - Thom Hartmann