A Politicol News article featuring an ex-employee of HART-Intercivic, which makes voting machines, alleges that HART-Intercivic machines may have fraudulently awarded votes in Ohio to Republican incumbent, George Bush, rather than Democrat John Kerry. Problems were also reported in Texas.
In the 2004 Election, in Ohio a strange occurrence after midnight, was found in the vote count conducted by servers in Tennessee, contracted to a company to count the vote. After Democrat John Kerry led in the exit polls all day, the vote changed after midnight and flipped to George Bush mysteriously.
A technician who worked at HART-Intercivic at the time, reported that he voluntarily chose to quit after two years because he believed the company was deliberately committing criminal election fraud: “criminal fraud, extreme negligence, and a distinct and troubling pattern of failure to uphold the public trust both in violations of the spirit of its contracts [and] also in concealing problems in an industry which so crucially represents the public interest.” He cited misleading conduct as another exacerbating factor. David Allen at Black Box Voting verified the man’s name and examined his claims, and Allen believes that the Department of Justice should take a serious interest in the situation.
The technician claims that HART-Intercivic computers submitted for tests to Ohio state authorities (InfoSentry and Computerware were two vendors hired to check the machines) were not the same as the computers actually used to tally votes. He also alleges that HART-Intercivic falsely claimed to have “ongoing information security” that it did not, in fact, have, and claimed it had provided documents about information security measures to its employees that it did not, in fact, provide. HART-Intercivic also claimed that its machines did not crash, that storage cards were not alterable, and that audits and errors were tracked (which would help reveal if any of the computers had been hacked), but none of those claims were true, thus, perhaps most damning, HART-Intercivic lied when it swore that election results were not transmitted through (insecure) public networks…but they were. A computer hooked up to a public network is vulnerable to attack and can be hacked.
The technician went to work at the Tarrant County Elections Administration office in Texas after leaving HART-Intercivic, and warned that if Early Voting Counts are relying on HART-Intercivic machines, then those machines are still vulnerable to malicious tampering and vote tampering. As he expected, he found the same problems in the Texas machines. He also found problems with the machines used by another company, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), which has been contracted to count votes during the 2012 election.
ES&S claims on its website that it has corrected problems previously discovered by the Election Assistance Commission, but the technician reports that ES&S is a repeat offender and fingers Robert Parten, the Election Administrator, with “unethical decisions and erratic behavior.”
Politicol News notes that “Robert Parten is still the official Election administrator according to Parker County, Texas website” and that his behavior has been suspect:
Apparently, Robert Parton refused to “allow” corrections to invalid entries and public tests to the voting system were not handled properly. The people involved were not even present in some cases for the testing. HART had sold the county a bill of goods, claiming their equipment was quicker, and would prevent corruption issues with ballot cards which were later found to be false statements. [Any] state doing business with ES&S and HART-Intercivic can count on a hackable election in a few days.
ES&S has counted votes in all four of the last major elections. In 2009, ES&S purchased Diebold, another electronic voting machine company, which means ES&S has a virtual monopoly on election vote counting. Notably, Diebold has had the same history of problems and malfunctions and hinky vote counts as have the other three companies handling electronic voting this election season.
Because there are so few electronic voting machine companies, and fewer today than before due to mergers, the power to tally Election Day votes is being placed into the hands of a very few CEOs. It is far easier to manipulate electronic vote counts (as opposed to counting votes on old-fashioned paper ballots by hand), and far simpler to change huge numbers of votes simultaneously, something very difficult to do with paper ballots.
The technician strongly urges state and federal government officials to maintain a paper trail in all elections to prevent malicious vote count tampering, machine malfunctions that might lead to a lot of votes not being properly registered and counted, or machines being programmed to flip votes fraudulently to one candidate over another. Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting (or “Internet voting”), the tech adds, also has security holes.
The most secure and accurate system is one where the state conducts the vote using paper ballots, then state employees count those votes with observers from both political parties present. Each ballot is counted toward the appropriate candidate, and a tally is kept.
Politicol News clarifies:
The winner is declared by the state election official or the returning officer who counted the vote, the ballots are wrapped in separate envelopes, the tally sheet is signed by a poll clerk and a poll clerk assistant, and then everybody’s happy…especially the citizen whose vote was counted!
The David Pakman Show has brought up another concern: members of the Romney family own HART-Intercivic voting machines, many of which are located in Ohio, a battleground state. David Pakman and Lee Fang, contributing writer at The Nation, discuss the issue in the following video: