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National Issues

Election Center: The Fox Guarding the Henhouse Updated PDF  | Print |  Email
Contributed by Joyce McCloy, NC Coalition for Verified Voting   
January 15, 2006
The Election Center Wants To "Improve" Democracy - And The Profit Margins Of Their Corporate Sponsors

They are back at it again, the ethically challenged Election Center. They have a new web-page, nice layout, though many of the links still don't work. Amazing that they are first to recommend electronic solutions for voting and registration, yet they can't design a working website. I am sure these broken links are just "glitches" that happen when skeptical computer scientists try to perform time travel! But while the Election Center may have a new website, the mission is the same: promote expensive unreliable and unverifiable voting machines and the vendors that make a profit from them.
They have a new logo to boot - and now they've given themselves a subtitle: "The National Association of Election Directors. But who are they? Near the top of the Election Center's "about" page, it describes itself as more or less a heroic group dedicated to democracy..
"The Election Center’s purpose is to promote, preserve, and improve democracy."
The Election Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, preserving, and improving democracy. Its members are government employees whose profession is to serve in voter registration and elections administration.
After that encouraging, patriotic, and heart warming description of the Election Center and its focus on democracy, have alook at what is buried near the bottom of the page - the "money changers" clause.
"The Center’s members also include suppliers of election products and services, including voting systems, voter registration software, voting booths, ballots, election supplies, etc. Members are able to visit with the providers of those goods and services at the national conference where members can learn what is available in the latest technology and election products."
How ethical is it for corporations to be members of an organization that trains, advises, and represents our election officials?
Just how much does the Election Center cares about Democracy? Take a look at the Election Center's List of Election Legislation - nowhere do you see even a negative reference to HR 550, considered the "Gold Standard" by the Verified Voting Foundation, and strongly endorsed VoteTrustUSA, Common Cause, Working Assets, MoveOn, Electronic Frontier Foundation and voting integrity organizations across the country. HR 550 has more co-sponsors than all the bills listed from both chambers combined. But then HR 550 might actually help ensure verifiable elections and wouldn't provide a windfall for the voting industry - no reason for the Election Center to even mention it!

The Election Center is offering a Special Workshop in Albuquerque, NM Feb. 22-26  With a welcome by Diebold along with some classes and workshops. These workshops are reminiscent of how those Home Improvement stores give classes on how to use the merchandise that you are going to buy from them (hint hint) - kind of like product placement, or a flat out endorsement of that technology.It must be safe and reliable, since the Election Center recommends it. and Diebold must be good, they are hosting the Welcome Reception.  
Just where does the Election Center's funding come from. As a non-profit corporation, their tax reports are supposed to be filed and available for public view. But their 2004 reports are still unavailable. I guess they are reluctant to release them after activists used their previous returns to embarass top state election officials such as the North Carolina Elections Chief, Gary Bartlett, who was also a member of the Election Center Board of Directors.

It is not fun to have reporters ask you - about the Election Center, how much money does it get from the voting machine companies. The formal answer by Mr. Bartlett - "about 10 percent ". We still have questions about those nasty little 2003 financials, like where did they get all of that cash? And do they own stock? If so, do they own stock in any election related companies? 
  • the Election Center had $874,759 in cash on hand at end of 2003.
  • the Election Center also had unrealized gains of $142,916
  • Doug Lewis paid himself $100,164
  • NC Elections Chief Gary Bartlett worked 10 hours per week (unpaid)
Well, it certainly is nice to see that the Election Center has a new website. Unfortunately the message is still the same.
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