Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 2 (2 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   3 comments

Life Arts

BlackBoxVoting's Bev Harris Walks Us Through the DOJ Anti-Trust Probe of ES&S

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 2   News 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 12/21/09

Become a Fan
  (72 fans)

I'm happy to have with me Bev Harris, intrepid investigative journalist and founder of the non-profit elections watchdog group, BlackBoxVoting.org. Welcome to OpEdNews, Bev. Interesting developments in the election world these days. Would you care to walk us through the latest regarding the ES&S acquisition of its competitor Diebold (now known as Premier)?

Oh yes. Big things are happening here. The US. Dept. of Justice (USDOJ) has just announced that it has opened an antitrust investigation into the ES&S/Diebold deal.

In September, megamonster voting machine company Election Systems & Software (ES&S) acquired Diebold's Premier Election Solutions. BlackBoxVoting.org prepared a formal complaint to elicit action by the US Department of Justice.

The USDOJ needed specific information in order to ascertain that the acquisition would "overconcentrate" the elections industry. They use a formula called the Herfindahl Index for this. Unfortunately, the only thing the USDOJ can use is precise figures based on official sources, and there are over 5,000 jurisdictions. Getting the data is no picnic, and you can't just use something published on someone's Web site. So Black Box Voting compiled data from our many Freedom of Information documents and produced a sourced, detailed chart proving overconcentration of the industry.

We buttressed our complaint by documenting specific instances of past anticompetitive behavior, and provided a legal analysis, which showed that anti-trust actions can be taken years after the acquisition.

The Dept. of Justice wrote us last month to let us know they intended to take action if their preliminary evaluation supported our contention that the acquisition creates an unhealthy condition. And it didn't take long! Less than eight weeks after our complaint, the USDOJ launched a formal antitrust probe, and 14 individual states are now pursuing their own investigations.



That must have been a huge effort for Black Box Voting to put together the necessary information. Would you care to talk about that a little?

Several years ago, we began collecting government source documents and voting machine make and models per jurisdiction. This has been especially challenging since so many places have been changing equipment over the past few years. And the hardest part was identifying what each of the municipality-run jurisdictions run. Wisconsin alone has about 1700 different municipality jurisdictions.

Once we had the data, we had to figure out how to accurately weight it. Obviously the 1700 Wisconsin jurisdictions couldn't be put up one to one against, for example, the 64 county jurisdictions in Colorado. And we had to look at the method most likely to provide the type of data needed by the Dept. of Justice. Should we determine by percent of votes counted by each machine? By total number of units? Or by jurisdiction? We decided that the best way to organize the data for antitrust purposes would be by purchasing unit (jurisdiction), with a weighted sample to equalize municipalities with counties.

More information than people want to know I'm sure, but this is the kind of detail that was needed to move from general grousing about monopoly to precise calculation of anticompetitive impact in violation of the Clayton Act.

More was needed; we created color-coded "before and after" maps to provide visual images for the impact of the acquisition, and studied antitrust laws to learn more about what kind of information to provide.

Perhaps most important, we received advice from volunteer consultants, including election officials and former federal investigators. This helped us know what information to include in the complaint, and also helped us determine which examples from our news archives, which have accumulated thousands of stories
over the years, would work best for this purpose.

Wow. What an undertaking. Can you show us the maps of Before and After acquisition and explain to us just what we're seeing and what it means?

Joan - here are the before and after maps:



US Map Pre-Merger



US Map Post-Merger

Next Page  1  |  2

 

http://www.opednews.com/author/author79.html

Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Interview with Dr. Margaret Flowers, Arrested Tuesday at Senate Roundtable on Health Care

Renowned Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck on "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success"

Howard Zinn on "The People Speak," the Supreme Court and Haiti

Snopes confirms danger of Straight Ticket Voting (STV)

Fed Up With Corporate Tax Dodgers? Check Out PayUpNow.org!

Literary Agent Shares Trade Secrets With New Writers

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Excellent interview. This just about sums it up. W... by Michael Collins on Monday, Dec 21, 2009 at 3:06:07 PM
you are right on the money about the danger of mon... by Joan Brunwasser on Monday, Dec 21, 2009 at 3:10:37 PM
Does anyone think our elections will ever be run h... by Joan Brunwasser on Thursday, Dec 24, 2009 at 7:45:37 AM