Corporate Control of the Election Process
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By John Gideon www.VotersUnite.Org and www.VoteTrustUSA.Org
June 15, 2005
Those who hold the sacred trust of overseeing the election
procedures and voting systems in this country are an alphabet-soup of
organizations. The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS);
the National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED), the
Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), the Elections
Assistance Commission (EAC); the Election Center. What do these groups
have in common? They either receive their funding from the vendors or
are greatly influenced by those who do receive funding from the
vendors. We can only hope that the EAC can resist the influence. The
Who are these "vendors"?
The vendors are the corporate face on our elections 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 the alphabet
soup, and that influence is considerable. They include names like
Diebold, Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), Sequoia Voting
Systems, Hart InterCivic, Accenture, UniSys, Accupoll, and more. In
fact they are all proudly named on the list of corporate affiliates of
The NASS Corporate Affiliates ProgramThe Influence of NASS over NASEDThe
National Association of State Elections Directors (NASED) is not
supported by outside dues. It is supported by members' dues and is
loosely under the auspices of the Council of State Governments.
However, NASED is very definitely influenced by the NASS, which openly
invites influence by the vendors. In nearly every state the Secretary
of State has responsibility over the administration of elections.
Almost all the members of NASED work for their state's Secretary of
State and serve at their pleasure. The members of NASED are also
included in three out of four NASS conferences.
How does a company become a "corporate affiliate."
of the National Association of Secretaries of State, and what does it
mean? According to a description of the NASS Corporate Affiliate
Program, corporations can donate annual dues in the amount of $20,000,
$10,000, $5,000, or $2,500. Those funds go directly into the coffers of
NASS. And what do the corporations get for donating to this worthy
cause? "The NASS Corporate Affiliate Program is a savvy way to share
ideas and build relationships with key state decision makers while
supporting the civic mission of the association."
relationships with key state decision makers? In other words,
unrestricted access to lobby the people who will be spending the
taxpayers' money to buy new election equipment. The scale of this
unrestricted access is directly, and openly, related to the amount of
"dues" that the corporation pays to the program.
is proud and fortunate to maintain extremely positive relationships
with both the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) and
the Election Center. In order to maintain those relationships and to
insure the continued sharing of information among members of each
organization, NASED meets with NASS in the winter and alternates
between NASS and The Election Center for its summer meetings."
who are the other attendees of these meetings? Of course the vendors
get a place at the table so they can meet, greet, and treat the people
who they hope will be their customers; the members of NASED. Those are
important relationships because ultimately NASED decides the fate of
the “vendors” product via testing guidelines that are written by the
TGDC and approved by the EAC and implemented (or not) by NASED.
The TGDC and Corporate Influence
Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) is a committee formed
jointly by the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) and NASED. This
committee is in place for only one reason; to formulate new standards
against which all voting systems will be tested. The new standards the
TGDC develops will replace the 2002 standards.
In "Is the NIST Technical Guidelines Development Committee Working For You, the Voter?"
I describe how these new standards are being written in consultation
with the vendors who have to build products that comply with the
standards. It is highly apparent that the corporations are being given
a heavy hand in the formation of the standards that they will be held
to in the future. NASS Attacks the EAC
Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) is a federal agency set-up by
Congress as part of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The EAC is
under-funded and under-staffed. The EAC is also under attack by NASS.
Associated Press reported in February, 2005 that "the National
Association of Secretaries of State approved a formal resolution that
asks Congress to dissolve its oversight organization, the federal
Election Assistance Commission, after the 2006 elections."
Why would NASS want to see the EAC dissolved? They say it's because elections are a 'states rights' issue.
ignore the fact that Florida 2000 and most problems encountered in the
2004 federal election can be attributed to the poor or non-existent
oversight of the members of NASS. They ignore the fact that elections
are held for federal offices, and that if they had been administering
elections well, Congress would have had no reason to establish the EAC.
If the EAC is dissolved, NASS will regain its previous
power, and through NASS the corporations will gain even more say in how
our elections are administered.The Elections Center Teaches Ethics but Shows None
has already been printed about the Election Center and the
organization's lack of ethics in taking contributions from the voting
equipment vendors while at the same time giving advice and teaching
ethics to county and state elections officials.
Election Center, which trains election workers and advises Congress and
government agencies on election process issues, has taken donations
from manufacturers of electronic voting machines even as it has issued
strong statements supporting the security of the machines."
Election Center also arranges conferences, sponsored by vendors, where
the state and local elections officials who attend are inundated with
propaganda from the vendors. In August, 2004, elections officials from
all over the U.S. met in Washington DC where they were treated to a
dinner cruise on the Potomac sponsored by Sequoia and a welcoming party
underwritten by Diebold. The graduation and send-off party was
sponsored by ES&S.
The Vendors Purchase a Spokesman From the Disabled Community
the public face of the American Association of People with Disabilities
(AAPD), Mr. Jim Dickson, has admitted to being in the pocket of the
vendors. Mr. Dickson has testified in favor of electronic voting
machines and against paper-based voting systems before governmental
panels, committees, and commissions across the country. However, he
doesn't begin his testimony by saying that he receives money from the
vendors for that testimony.
In an article in Wired News on October 12, 2004, journalist Kim Zetter reported:
government lobbyist for the American Association of People with
Disabilities, who has traveled around the country testifying on behalf
of touch-screen voting, acknowledged this year that his organization
received at least $26,000 from voting companies, but only after first
The Vendors Lobby Asks That Customers Buy Defective and Not Effective
recently another ingredient in the alphabet soup has spoken out. The
Information Technology Association of America (ITAA); a coalition of,
and lobbying agent for, voting equipment manufacturers; testified
before the EAC that counties and states should not wait any longer for
new standards, but should purchase their new election equipment now.
They testified, "Under a best-case scenario, it will be difficult for
states and counties to meet the HAVA deadlines for the purchase and
implementation of accessible voting systems"
other words, "Don't wait until new standards are set and the voting
systems have been brought up to standards that may improve those
systems. It is better to go out and purchase the equipment that is
still being qualified to standards written in 1990. Buy defective and
What Must be Done to Counter the Vendors' Influence?
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.
The news from Miami-Dade County, Florida is a strikingly big step.
The county supervisor of elections is recommending dumping the flawed
and expensive electronic voting machines and returning to paper ballots
— in order to save the taxpayers' money.
access to the county officials, through NASS, NASED, and the Election
Center, vendor lobbyists managed to sell defective election equipment
to Miami-Dade. Dedicated voting activists researched the facts and
brought them forward with a determination that could not be ignored.
None of the alphabet-soup organizations could deny that what the
activists were saying was true.
The activists were also
aided by the fact that the county has a new elections director who had
no hand in the decision to buy the DRE voting machines. Stepping into a
new position, outside of vendor control and with no risk to his own
credibility, he was able to declare that the county made a huge mistake
and wasted millions of dollars of taxpayer's money.
all our election officials were out from under the influence of the
vendors, if they weren't defensive about poorly informed decisions they
had made because of that influence, what would the face on our election
system look like? Certainly it's worth finding out.
"Election Officials Work on Making Changes" by Robert Tanner, Associated Press, February 8, 2005;
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