Black Box Voting lodged a formal 21-page complaint with the U.S. Dept. of Justice in September, 2009 regarding the acquisition of Diebold’s elections division by ES&S, on the grounds that the deal violates the Clayton Act. The United States Dept. of Justice has now formally opened an investigation. Here is our complaint.
In addition, we provided the USDOJ with legal citations indicating that acquisitions which violate antitrust laws can be rolled back up to two years after the acquisition goes through.
Our complaint provided hard-to-obtain details on jurisdiction by jurisdiction voting machine purchases, proving overconcentration of the industry with the Herfindahl Index, used by the USDOJ to ascertain whether acquisitions create an anticompetitive marketplace. We also documented numerous specific instances of past anti-competitive behavior and unfair practices.
ES&S officials lied to county election officials, claiming the deal wasn’t subject to anti-trust laws because it was too small. While it did fly under the radar because the dollar amount evaded an automatic hold on the acquisition, the provision invoking a hold does not have any impact on whether the deal is, ultimately, a violation of anti-trust laws.
Election observers already distrustful of the electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold will have more reason to be wary now.
“Following three months of investigation, California’s secretary of state has released a report examining why a voting system made by Premier Election Solutions (formerly known as Diebold Election Systems) lost about 200 ballots in Humboldt County during the November presidential election,” Kim Zetter reports for Wired.
Zetter continues, “But the most startling information in the state’s 13-page report (.pdf) is not about why the system lost votes, which Threat Level previously covered in detail, but that some versions of Diebold’s vote tabulation system, known as the Global Election Management System (GEMS), include a button that allows someone to delete audit logs from the system.”
As for the missing ballots, Wayne Hanson at govtech.com notes that the report indicates a “Deck Zero software error — which can delete the first group of optically scanned ballots under certain circumstances — caused 197 ballots to be inadvertently deleted from Humboldt County’s initial results in the November 4, 2008, General Election. The results were corrected when the error was discovered.”
At Brad Blog, John Gideon observes, “The report is amazing in that it reveals why our voting systems are failing. The issues with the GEMS software go much deeper than just the fact that the system may lose votes. The state also found readily apparent violations of the federal voting system standards. These violations seem to have been ignored by federal test labs, by the National Assoc. of State Election Directors (NASED), and their consultants who qualified the voting system for use, and by-passed CA Secretaries of State and their consultants.”
Wired’s Zetter notes, “The California report states that the ‘clear’ button, along with other problems with the auditing logs as well as the software flaw that caused the system to lose votes in Humboldt County (see below for more information on that flaw), should have been red flags to the testing laboratories that certified the system and should have been sufficient to ‘fail’ the system and prevent it from being used in any federal election.”
Note from Editor: Harper’s magazine was my first magazine subscription. They have amazing stories, insights and political essays. Here is an outstanding example of a tradition called the Harper’s Index.
Number of news stories from 1998 to Election Day 2000 containing “George W. Bush” and “aura of inevitability”: 206
Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98
Number of Chevron oil tankers named after Condoleezza Rice, at the time she became foreign policy adviser: 1
Months before September 11, 2001, that Cheney’s Energy Task Force investigated Iraq’s oil resources: 6
Hours after the 9/11 attacks that an Alaska congressman speculated they may have been committed by “eco-terrorists”: 9
Date on which the first contract for a book about September 11 was signed: 9/13/01
Number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African men detained in the U.S. in the eight weeks after 9/11: 1,182
Number of them ever charged with a terrorism-related crime: 0
Number charged with an immigration violation: 762
Days since the federal government first placed the nation under an “elevated terror alert” that the level has been relaxed: 0
Minimum number of calls the FBI received in fall 2001 from Utah residents claiming to have seen Osama bin Laden: 20
Number of box cutters taken from U.S. airline passengers since January 2002: 105,075
Percentage of Americans in 2006 who believed that U.S. Muslims should have to carry special I.D.: 39
Chances an American in 2002 believed the government should regulate comedy routines that make light of terrorism: 2 in 5
Rank of Mom, Dad, and Rudolph Giuliani among those whom 2002 college graduates said they most wished to emulate: 1, 2, 3
Number of members of the rock band Anthrax who said they hoarded Cipro so as to avoid an “ironic death”: 1
Estimated total calories members of Congress burned giving Bush’s 2002 State of the Union standing ovations: 22,000
Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50
Minimum number of laws that Bush signing statements have exempted his administration from following: 1,069
Estimated number of U.S. intelligence reports on Iraq that were based on information from a single defector: 100
Number of times the defector had ever been interviewed by U.S. intelligence agents: 0
Date on which Bush said of Osama bin Laden, “I truly am not that concerned about him”: 3/13/02
Days after the U.S. invaded Iraq that Sony trademarked “Shock & Awe” for video games: 1
Days later that the company gave up the trademark, citing “regrettable bad judgment”: 25
Number of books by Henry Kissinger found in Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz’s mansion: 2
Number by then–New York Times reporter Judith Miller: 1
Factor by which an Iraqi in 2006 was more likely to die than in the last year of the Saddam regime: 3.6
If so you are invited to serve as an official election observer on November 4, 2008. Official observers watch the elections in the polling places and are present during the ballot count.
The Constitution Party of Ohio (Chairman Robert Owens and Secretary Terri Owens) and The Ohio Election Justice Campaign are training and managing official election observers. There is no experience needed – only a commitment to join your fellow citizens in safeguarding our democracy during the ballot count.