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Black Box Voting report on touch-screen machines and influence-peddling
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: From Black Box Voting: The road to Boondoggle is paved with
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2007 21:08:12 -0800
From: Black Box Voting <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Organization: Black Box Voting
(Warning: You might really hate this story.) This story represents
months of original research by Black Box Voting. We went into this
looking for the defense industry contractors we'd heard had lobbied for
the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). That legislation has been blamed for
the touch-screens (DREs) that showed up all over America. Well, that's
not what we found. The real story on who was behind HAVA may come as a
surprise to you. It was to us..
Permission to reprint and distribute granted, with link to
THE ROAD TO BOONDOGGLE IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS:
HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT (HAVA) LOBBYIST LIST
Question: What happens if you lobby a lawmaker for $4 billion in
expenditures for touch-screen voting machines and go back to that same
lawmaker two years later asking to dump DREs?
Answer: You lose credibility. It might be hard to lobby for other
things. It's politically embarrassing. And your members, or funders,
might have a few questions to ask about the prudence of your lobbying
BUT HOW COULD ANYONE HAVE KNOWN?
The road to voting computers was paved with good intentions. No one knew
that some of the programmers for voting computers would turn out to be
No one realized that the main sponsor of the HAVA bill -- Rep. Bob Ney
-- would end up going to jail on corruption charges.
Few realized that the federal testing labs, Ciber and Wyle, weren't
doing their jobs and their overseers -- NASED and now the EAC -- failed
to check their work.
Wyle failures (Bowen Hearing): http://www.blackboxvoting.org/itahearing.pdf
Ciber failures: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/46428.html
HAVA bought a lemon.
WHO BIT INTO IT?
Progressive public interest groups. Labor unions. Civil rights groups.
While many election reform activists are under the impression that
touch-screen (DRE) voting machines were some sort of Republican plot to
take over America, the truth is that lobbying for the DRE-seeking "Help
America Vote Act" came primarily from the foundation of the Democratic
Activists throughout America have expressed surprise at the Democratic
Party's unwillingness to pull DREs off the shelf. One reason is simply
this: To do so would damage the credibility of those who lobbied for
HAVA. And those who lobbied for HAVA just happen to be the biggest
funders and activist workhorses for the Democratic Party itself.
WHO INVESTED THEIR CREDIBILITY (AND MEMBERSHIP FUNDS) TO LOBBY FOR HAVA?
1. Public interest groups - mostly progressive
2. Big labor
3. Minority rights groups
4. Disability rights groups
Of these, the first four tend to favor Democrats but the fifth group --
industry, the group charged with writing the computer code that counts
America's votes -- is made of vendors that are more often close to the
Democrats lobbied HAVA in but to a large extent, Republican-affiliated
vendors executed the mechanics of the plan. Some would call this
comical; others, tragic.
PUBLIC INTEREST GROUP HAVA LOBBYISTS
1. People for the American Way
2. Common Cause
3. American Civil Liberties Union
4. League of Women Voters
5. American Jewish Committee
7. American Association for Retired Persons
8. Public Citizen
9. American Network of Community Options and Resources
10. Constitution Project (Georgetown University)
11. Open Society Policy Center (Soros)
LABOR UNION HAVA LOBBYISTS
1. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
2. Laborers International Union of North America
3. International Brotherhood of Teamsters
4. United Auto Workers
5. American Federation of Teachers
7. UNITE (Industrial & Textile employees)
Of the seven HAVA-lobbying groups above, five are among the Top-20
largest donors of all time to any political party. All five donate
almost exclusively to the Democratic Party and its candidates. None of
the top 20 Republican donors lobbied for HAVA.
According to OpenSecrets.org, the labor unions that lobbied for HAVA
have given nearly $150 million to support Democrats since 1989, and six
were in the Top-20 Democratic PAC funders for 2006-06.
MINORITY RIGHTS HAVA LOBBYISTS
1. NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
2. National Council of La Raza
3. Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF)
DISABILITY RIGHTS HAVA LOBBYISTS
1. American Foundation for the Blind
2. The ARC of the United States
3. National Disability Rights Network
4. Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
5. United Cerebral Palsy Association
Black Box Voting has been unable to locate the lobbying disclosure forms
for the American Association of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD)
featuring the vocal Jim Dickson, nor did we find any disclosure forms
for the National Federation for the Blind (NFB), the group that took $1
million from Diebold. Misfiled? Misnamed? Overlooked? Omitted?
Link for NFB $1 million from Diebold:
COUNTY GOVERNMENT HAVA LOBBYING
1. Riverside County, Calif.
2. San Diego County, Calif.
3. Ventura County, Calif.
4. Miami-Dade County, FL
INDUSTRY & BUSINESS HAVA LOBBYISTS
3. Election Systems & Software
6. Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs
7. US Business & Industry Council
8. Assocation of Technology Act Projects
Not found on lobbying forms pushing HAVA: The SAIC, the ITAA, and Diebold.
Diebold Election Systems Inc does not show up on the 2001-02 HAVA
lobbying forms, but did lobby for elections issues in 2004 and 2005.
Also notably missing are the firms referenced by R. Doug Lewis of "The
Election Center" in an August 2003 meeting. In this tape recorded
meeting, he said that HAVA was put into place by an election systems
task force which included Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman, EDS, and Accenture.
Of these, only Accenture shows up the lobbying forms, and there is no
entity called Election anything, except for Election System & Software
and another company, election.com, which lobbied for Internet voting.
(See Chapter 8 of Black Box Voting for more on the Saudi-owned
election.com, which was later taken over by Accenture -
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf - See Chapter 16 for
more information on the tape recorded meeting:
What about Choicepoint? Choicepoint says it didn't lobby for HAVA.
Choicepoint says it hasn't had any involvement in elections.
The lobbying forms don't show lobbying for voting machines, but a
lobbying firm called Fleishman-Hillard Government Relations filed a
registration form in 2002 indicating they planned to lobby for "Election
Reform" on behalf of Choicepoint. Muddying things up, no 2002 lobbying
form appeared showing that they did. In 2001, however, a lobbying form
clearly puts Choicepoint in the middle of HAVA lobbying, showing that
Choicepoint was involving itself in lobbying for the voter registration
component of HAVA.
Choicepoint has repeatedly stated that they have "no involvement
whatsoever" in elections, and in rebuttal to a controversial article
that appeared for a short while on OpEd News, Choicepoint came on to
deny that they lobbied for HAVA. More on Choicepoint here:
Choicepoint, a controversial database broker, clearly cannot state that
it has "no involvement in elections."
Choicepoint stakeholder Donna Curling, wife of Choicepoint chief Doug
Curling, has continued to fund election reform lobbying by providing
funding for some of the activists working on the Holt Bill.
THEY THOUGHT DRE VOTING MACHINES WOULD HELP THEM BUILD THE DEMOCRATIC BASE
Those who lobbied for HAVA were convinced that the DRE machines would
solve problems, helping more people vote.
1. Many of the HAVA reformers believed that with DREs, people with less
education would be more likely to fill out the whole ballot. In fact,
they reasoned, the DRE machines would be easier to use for educationally
disadvantaged populations, minorities, non-English-speaking voters, and
Few studies back these conclusions up, and those that do have generally
not been replicated, or were not peer reviewed, and sometimes show
methodology that is as flawed as the lemons HAVA bought. The occasional
studies that have been done -- even those prepared by DRE advocates --
sometimes end up with troubling caveats. A Georgia study purported to
show that "most people like voting on the DREs" (but rarely mentions the
small print: The same study showed that the African-Americans surveyed
distrusted the touch-screens).
2. The citizens' right to oversee local elections -- and especially the
citizens' right to even get access to information -- has been all but
eliminated through the implementation of HAVA. The original civil rights
concept was virtuous.
Federal Government is the entity that enacted civil rights, HAVA
reformers reasoned, so therefore let's ask the federal government to fix
our elections process.
Be careful what you ask for. It just might get "fixed."
If federal government is going to correct anything, it should start with
enacting tougher standards to give citizens Freedom of Access to
Elections Information -- mandating that the system actually PRODUCE the
information needed for citizens to make sure the right candidate was
place in office, in a TIMELY manner, that is COST EFFECTIVE and USABLE,
prohibiting removal of the information through proprietary claims.
And above all, local CITIZEN oversight must be protected. In almost
every case, discoveries of problems with elections and the computers
that count them have been discovered by ordinary citizens, not by
government oversight, auditors, consultants, certifiers, or experts.
And if we are going to rid ourselves of the DREs, we need to get past
the -- er -- little "problem" of the threat to credibility if former
HAVA lobbyists take the courageous step of changing course.
They couldn't have known. Perhaps a set of tough investigative hearings
can provide the evidence to brace those backbones for the change in
direction. Look to Calif. Secretary of State Debra Bowen's well-prepped,
no-nonsense hearings on the certification process for examples, and
start by issuing subpoenas to Diebold's master programmer, Talbot
Iredale, and Ciber's Shawn Southworth (who refused to show up for
This thing can be done. It doesn't need a bandaid, it needs a disinfectant.
SEE FOR YOURSELF HOW HAVA CAME TO BE:
Photocopies of the lobbying forms are in the process of being uploaded
to the Black Box Voting Document Archive. You will find lobbying forms
for all of the groups listed above as they are uploaded here:
# # # # #
Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jan 31, 2007
in category privacy
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