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Tue Oct 16, 2012, 12:38 PM

 

Reality check on Hart-Intercivic voting machine company and its owndership by Romney partisans

As noted in other posts, H.I.G. Capital, LLC, a private equity firm stuffed full of Romney croniesm bought voting machine company Hart-Intercivic in July 2011. This has has raised the old spectre of dodgy computer code and stolen elections. A few issues to keep in mind going forward:

1) According to the Ohio SoS site, H-I equipment is only used in two counties, Williams and Hamilton. I am trying to find out which counties use H-I equipment in Colorado.

2) Despite much discussion about "rigging" an election, the easiest way to have an effect on an election is to control the number and deployment of functional voting machines. Keep replacement/backup equipment in short supply, then controlling what precinct gets replacements is easier to manage than diddling the code. Also, much harder to prove tampering short of a whistleblower or a confession.

3) No reasonable person can view control of a voting machine company by political partisans as anything short of improper.

4) The quickest way to destroy faith in elections is to have situations like this.

5) Until voting machines are afforded that same level of security as slot machines in Las Vegas, we cannot trust them without a LOT of scrutiny.

6) No voting process which lacks a tangible ballot is acceptable.

Links:

Ownership of Hart-Intercivic:

http://www.thedailydolt.com/2012/10/10/former-bain-employees-own-voting-machine-company-used-in-swing-states/

Ohio SoS:

http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/elections/votingsystems.aspx?page=25056

Colorado relaxing voting machine security:

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/12/colorado-voting-machine-security

And an oldie from my old site on how Hart-Intercivic organized a secret meeting to fight e-voting activists and undermine independent machine certification:

http://blackboxvoting.com/s9/index.php?/archives/177-Secret-meeting-of-the-Black-Box-Yakuza.html

Cross-posted to Election Reform

11 replies, 1811 views

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Reply Reality check on Hart-Intercivic voting machine company and its owndership by Romney partisans (Original post)
Kelvin Mace Oct 2012 OP
flamingdem Oct 2012 #1
montanacowboy Oct 2012 #2
Kelvin Mace Oct 2012 #3
bemildred Oct 2012 #4
Kelvin Mace Oct 2012 #5
bemildred Oct 2012 #6
HopeHoops Oct 2012 #7
Kelvin Mace Oct 2012 #8
HopeHoops Oct 2012 #9
Kelvin Mace Oct 2012 #10
HopeHoops Oct 2012 #11

Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 12:40 PM

1. They really need to urge early voting even more in those counties

Thanks for this info and I'm glad it's just two counties, though two is too many

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 12:41 PM

2. Hamilton Co (Cincinnati)

could throw the election

If we are in for another 2004 with Ohio vote rigging, I just cannot stand it

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Response to montanacowboy (Reply #2)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 12:45 PM

3. We need to make a lot of noise about this

 

Only if it gets a lot of attention will increased scrutiny follow. The more eyeballs on the process, the harder it will be for anyone to "misallocate" voting machines.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 12:59 PM

4. Vote by mail, make your vote harder to ignore, leave a paper trail. nt

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Response to bemildred (Reply #4)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 01:06 PM

5. Personally

 

I see this as the cheapest, and with proper safeguard, the safest way to vote.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #5)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 01:07 PM

6. Me too. This is my first time with vote-by-mail. NT

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 04:21 PM

7. ES&S now (after PES bought the division) is still Diebold. Anything else is small potatoes.

 

None of them are reliable. None of them have paper trails. None of them can't be hacked. But MANY of them can be hacked remotely for an extra $20 over the already low price of $30 in Radio Shack parts to do it physically. We don't have accountability or RE-COUNT-ability anymore. And I'm tired of the "paper trails cost too much" bullshit. When was the last time you bought something and didn't get a serialized receipt?

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #7)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 04:47 PM

8. Just to clarify

 

It is still the Diebold hardware/software that Diebold bought from Global Election Systems back in 1999, but Premier Election Solutions (PES) is no longer owned by Diebold, which sold the division at a MAJOR loss several years ago. ES&S bought the division, but sold it to another company, Dominion Voting Systems when anti-trust issues were raised. DVS bought Sequoia Voting Systems meaning that it controls two of the four former voting machine vendors.

Paper ballots, handled properly, with optical scanners and strict auditing and public observation of the counting process is cheaper and more accurate than any paperless system. Moving to a mail-in system would be cheaper still.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #8)

Tue Oct 16, 2012, 04:58 PM

9. Yeah, that coincides with my research on the subject. It's still Diebold at the root.

 

And as I understand it, GES actually HAD a paper trail. Diebold (a Republican-owned company) removed that "feature" before installing their machines. The hardware and software have not changed, and given that I'm a long-time computer geek, I can honestly say that we've got a problem, Houston. The things are antiquated on every level. DVS is just the conglomerate (and also a Republican operative) of the "no accountability" monopoly. What good is a recount when you'll just get the same bullshit results from the same bullshit machines? There's no such thing.

EVERY POS machine (ATM, Gas pump, 7-11, K-Mart, etc.) produces a paper receipt, whether you want it or not. It doesn't cost shit to add that feature so I call bullshit on the "costs too much" argument. Every voter should get a serialized receipt showing their vote and there should be a running roll with the same information and same serial number printed out in a window the voter can see and flag it down if it doesn't match. THEN we can have recounts. The lack of paper is intentional and everyone knows it. A receipt printer adds about $30 to the cost of a machine. The voting machine companies charge a shitload for those silly things and know an extra $30 wouldn't hurt the bottom line. It's all part of the creeping fascism. Get people to trust bullshit and comply.




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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #9)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 09:39 AM

10. Well, there is a problem from the voter intergrity standpoint

 

and this is based on American history. A "receipt" could be used in vote buying to prove to someone how you voted.

In NC there are only two counties with TS systems, and they are by law required to have a printer on the machine which records all choices as they are made. When you click summary, it prints out a summary of your votes chosen to compare to what's on the screen. If you are satisfied with the choices, you "cast" you vote and it is recorded electronically.

During random audits, the paper tape summary is compared to the recorded digital count and discrepancies trigger a recount of the entire precinct until the deviation is explained. In these situations, paper beats digital since it is the tangible record of the vote.

The problems with Diebold machines when I and other activists were investigating them were :

1) Hard coded supervisor passwords.

2) Identical access keys (any key would open any machine, and they could be bought on the net).

3) All source code and documentation was "in the wild"

4) Database was running on Access

5) Hardware was WAY out of date (386 CPUs)

6) USB/Serial ports were not locked, meaning access could be granted to the machine even without the key.

That was just the small stuff. There were tones of other documented problems, and we caught Diebold in lie after lie about the problems.

My experience with election officials was that the "lack of paper" was sold to them as a cost savings issue, and I think all of the people I spoke with believed it. After the dangers were explained, most wanted nothing to do with the paperless systems. The major issue was one of ignorance, not malice. On the part of the voting machine companies the overriding issue was greed.

My major worry about these machines was not treachery of an individual or group, but of the simple fact that the machines were highly unreliable with almost zero redundancy. I was on a local talk show in April 2004 with the NC Director of Elections and I explained that when these machines failed, and I said WHEN, not IF, the votes would irretrievable. If the votes lost was within the margin of victory for a race, they would be looking at lawsuits and public humiliation. I didn't have to wait long, as this is precisely what happened in the November election in Currituck Co. over 4,000 votes were lost and the margin of victory in the Ag Commissioner race was 3800 votes.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #10)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 10:06 AM

11. They don't even have mirrored hard drives (although some are solid state now).

 

WHEN you get a failure, not "if" as you said, it's out of commission. I think a 386 is far more power than you need for what it does, but a paper trail isn't that expensive to add. It's a bullshit argument. There's no valid excuse for not having one.

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