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The state-sanctioned Diebold monopoly control over NH's elections

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Black Box Voting filed an antitrust complaint to the US Department of Justice requesting they investigate the proposed merger of e-voting companies Diebold and ES&S. Long before this merger, however, New Hampshire initiated its own antitrust situation with Diebold Corporation.

Like so many other unconstitutional aspects of NH's election systems, the virtual monopoly over e-voting in New Hampshire was legislated with a wink and a nod and nary an objection from the office of the NH Attorney General, Secretary of State, the news media, or most public officials. In fact, the legislation itself that handed NH elections to Diebold on a silver platter, was written in consultation with John Silvestro of Londonderry, NH, President of Diebold's New England affiliate, LHS Associates. The legislation was passed under the direction of then Chair of the NH Election Law Committee, Don Stritch, with the full support of the office of the Secretary of State.

Former Representative Stritch is now Commissioner of Rockingham County, where LHS President John Silvestro resides. Stritch's interest in the e-voting industry is apparent in his subsequent unsuccessful appeal to be appointed by the NH Secretary of State to the Standards Board, a national board of state election officials reporting to the White House agency, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The Standards Board and the EAC maintain quite a bit of influence over national adoption of electronic voting technology, from advising on the design specifications for the technology to participating (formally and informally) in a disturbingly intimate network with e-voting industrialists.

Following the 2007 establishment of the NH "Electronic Ballot Counting Device Advisory Committee" (aka electronic voting technology committee), Stritch was appointed Chair of that committee by Secretary of State Bill Gardner. This e-voting committee was created by legislation passed after the Election Law Committee, under the chairmanship of Representative Jane Clemons (D-Nashua) killed several pieces of citizen-proposed legislation calling for open and public vote counting. Clemons, working with Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan, instead orchestrated passage of this single bill forming the technology voting committee, effectively putting legislative stamp of approval on concealed vote counting by computers rather than the constitutional mandate for public and open vote counting. The following excerpt provides details on the shameful dealings that gave away NH's public elections to a Diebold monopoly.

SOURCE: New Hampshire elections: A call to improve integrity and accountability

In 2004 the NH legislature, with the support of the Secretary of State, passed a bill redesigning the NH ballot. The law was written on the advice and consultancy of LHS Associates, Diebold Election Systems vendor for New England. LHS Associates advised the state that Diebold optical scanners were the only voting machine that could read the new ballot design. Additionally, LHS informed the state that the existing firmware in NH's Diebold equipment needed to be replaced with new firmware to read the ballots.

The state paid for the replacement of ES&S equipment with Diebold for twenty five NH towns, as well as replacement firmware for every Diebold voting machine in the state. In other words, as a result of this particular legislation, New Hampshire taxpayers put a substantial sum of money into the pockets of LHS Associates.

A public records request reveals that the initial cost proposal from LHS to conduct these transactions was $213,000 - $303,000, with the lower figure being for pre-2002 firmware and the higher figure being for post-2002 firmware.

This initial proposal included $40,000 to provide Manchester and Nashua with new central tabulation software. This new software is the controversial Diebold GEMS software, another "error-prone" product broadly implicated in numerous election tabulation failures throughout the nation. It appears from the state responses to record requests that the state did not purchase the GEMS for Nashua and Manchester, although this has not been confirmed.

In response to the same public records request, the Department of State provided one email indicating that the State agreed to purchase 15 used voting machines. In the end, the state was issued two invoices from LHS Associates: one for $124,555 for the purchase of 29 Diebold Accuvote machines, and another for $7,120 for the purchase of 178 firmware upgrades to existing Diebold machines.

The end result of this legislation was the state conveyed at least $135,000 to the bank accounts of LHS Associates. But that's not all. Many experts believe that the new firmware now installed in all of NH voting machines is more fraud-friendly than the older version. And NH is now solidly a Diebold-only, 1.94W firmware, state.

 

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Nancy Tobi is best known as a national leader in the voting rights movement for her seminal work exposing the dangers and fallacies in various election reform efforts past, present and future. Nancy is co-founder and former Chair of Democracy for (more...)
 
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For a long time we have voted for senators and rep... by Harvey Solomon on Monday, Sep 28, 2009 at 9:05:51 AM
As well as losing the first election, when Al Gore... by Suzi on Monday, Sep 28, 2009 at 12:25:19 PM