When Voting News reported on on ES&S acquiring Premier Election Solutions, they commented, "Monopoly anyone?" But this acquisition is just wrong on so many levels.
Yes, the monopoly. ES&S's website boasts that ES&S voting systems counted approximately 50% of the votes in the last four major elections. 67 million registered voters vote on ES&S machines. 97K iVotronic touch screens are installed in 20 states and approximately 30K scanner tabulators are installed in 43 states and worldwide. While Premier Election Solutions (Diebold) Global Election Management System (GEMS) is used in more than 1,000 election environments throughout North America.
While the acquisition of Premier indeed adds munitions to ES&S's arsenal. The monopoly is but a part of the troubling equation.
Consider the Government Accountability Office's (GOA) stunted investigation of Sarasota's 2006 District 13 with its 18,000 missing votes. While the investigation fizzled with inconclusive results and investigative paths not taken, the initial findings of the investigation revealed an end-to-end ES&S election process lacking good business practices and void of independent checks and balances. ES&S virtually owns the election process. ES&S manufactures the machines, produces test data, defines the testing process, counts the votes, determines the winner, and declares the election valid. While Florida's Secretary of State and Sarasota's Supervisor of Elections simply follow the ES&S directions. (1)
Consider the absence of election laws and comprehensive processes that recognize bogus election results and mandate clear and immediate corrective action. This void has actually enabled election blunders since 2000.
More importantly, the lapse in business standards in tandem with the absence of such laws make it all the more possible for a lone techie, a company insider to slip some crafty little program code into the election program mix. As long as this techie stays smart and keeps the win within the margin of error he or she can effectively alter and even spot control election results.
Consider the technical challenges experienced by these two companies. Nine states reported voting problems with their Diebold equipment, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, Utah, Virginia. Eight states reported problems with their ES&S voting equipment: Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. And five states reported voting problems with both ES&S and Diebold voting equipment: Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. (2)