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Voting Machine Companies Come Under Scrutiny
In a groundbreaking effort, writer Bev Harris of Talion.com and journalist Lynn Landes of EcoTalk.org are compiling extensive information on the voting machine companies operating in the United States.
Voting machine companies are privately held and extremely secretive. They form a web of overlapping ownership, financing, staff, and equipment that makes it difficult to separate one from the other. These companies are also owned by individuals and organizations with vested interests.
According to U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel's (R-NE) press office, in 1995 Hagel resigned as CEO of American Information Systems (AIS), the voting machine company that counted the votes in his first Senatorial election in 1996. In January 1996 Hagel resigned as president of McCarthy & Company, part of the McCarthy Group that are one of the current owners of Election Systems and Software (ES&S), which itself resulted from the merger of AIS and Business Records Corporation. According to Bev Harris, Hagel is still an investor in the McCarthy Group. ES&S is now the largest voting machine company in America and one of its largest owners is the ultra-conservative Omaha World-Herald Company.
According to Nebraska's Elections Office, ES&S is the only voting machine company certified to count votes in the state. Twenty percent of the vote in Nebraska is hand-counted.
ES&S claims to have counted 56% of the vote in the last four presidential elections. Bob and Todd Urosevich founded its predecessor AIS in the 1980's. Bob is now president of Diebold-Global, while brother Todd is a vice president at ES&S. Business Records Corp. which was merged with AIS to become ES&S, was partially owned by Cronus, a company that seems to have a lot of connections to the infamous Hunt brothers from Texas, as well as other individuals and entities, including Rothschild, Inc.. Right wing Republicans Howard Ahmanson (who financed AIS) and Nelson Bunker Hunt have both heavily contributed to The Chalcedon Institute, an organization that mandates Christian "dominion" over the world.
Sequoia Voting Systems appears to be the second largest voting machine company, accounting for about 1/3 of the voting machine market. As of May 2002, Sequoia was purchased by Great Britain's De La Rue from Ireland's Jefferson Smurfit Group, who retain a 15% share. Smurfit was just bought by Madison Dearborn Partners, a private equity investment firm. De La Rue owns 20% of the Great Britain's national lottery. In 1995 the Security and Exchange Commission filed charges against four employees of Sequoia, alleging that they inflated revenue and pre-tax profits. In 1999 the Justice Department filed federal charges against employees of Sequoia alleging that during a 10-year period $8 million in bribes were paid out. Louisiana's Commissioner of Elections Jerry Fowler had run up some big gambling debts in Atlantic City, according to reporter Daniel Hopsicker. In all, 22 people were indicted, 9 plead guilty. Fowler went to jail, but Pasquale "Rocco" Ricci of New Jersey got one year of home detention.
Advanced Voting Solutions is the new name of another voting company, Shoup Voting Solutions. Their current top management, Howard Van Pelt and Larry Ensminger, were executives for Diebold-Global until last year. Officers of Shoup Voting Machine Co. were indicted for allegedly bribing politicians in Tampa, Florida in 1971, according to the San Francisco Business Times. Ransom Shoup was convicted in 1979 of conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to an FBI inquiry into a lever machine-counted election in Philadelphia. Shoup got a three-year suspended sentence. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has bought new voting machines from Danaher-Guardian, which appears to only sell voting machines formerly known as the "Shouptronic."
Danaher-Guardian is owned by billionaire brothers Steven M. and Mitchell P. Rales, who were described by columnist Jack Anderson in 1988 as "a pair of corporate raiders out of Washington DC." Again, Danaher-Guardian appears to only sell formerly Shouptronic voting machines.
Diebold-Global's current president, Bob Urosevich, was the co-founder of American Information Systems which became ES&S. As mentioned before, Diebold-Global's top managers, Howard Van Pelt and Larry Ensminger, recently moved to Advanced Voting Solutions-Shoup.
Oregon has rejected voting machines altogether and handles its entire election through the mail. (Correction: Mailed-in ballots are counted on optical scanners.) The state of Washington offers the mail-in option, and Colorado is considering mandatory mail-in voting.
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