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

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Welcome back for the conclusion of my interview with Black Box Voting's founder, Bev Harris. So, Bev, what happens now with the anti-trust probe, which has proceeded, thanks to the ample documentation you provided the DOJ?

The DOJ can require ES&S to divest itself of the Diebold Premier Election Solutions acquisition. Diebold sure as heck won't want it back they practically gave it away by selling it for just $5 million and agreeing to remain responsible for the liability and lawsuits. ES&S wouldn't need to sell it back to Diebold; they'd just need to divest themselves of it.

It's not the direct profit potential that ultimately drives this acquisition, nor any subsequent acquisition if divestiture is required. This is actually about power. What's at stake has a much higher value than you'll ever see on the balance sheet.

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If divestiture is required, and it probably will be, it could get interesting. There may be someone undesirable waiting in the wings to snap this up. If another entity takes it over, the real identity will become very important, and we should keep in mind that ES&S has ties that lead back to Kiewit a road-building outfit with quite a sordid history of hidden ownership for its highway contracting bids.

Omaha's Kiewit outfit got into trouble a while back for bid-rigging and was banned from bidding for several government projects. So then Kiewit said "Here we go Loopdy-Loo" and started creating entities inside of other entities. It got pretty nutty. At one point, a bunch of White Kiewit golfing buddies from Omaha pretended to be Black women from Seattle. They hid real corporate identities in Oklahoma too, where they had been banned from doing work with the government, creating a maze of confusion over true ownership during government procurement cycles. Some of Kiewit's executives were indicted in schemes to bid-rig and cover up true ownership.

ES&S does have origins that lead back to the Kiewit bunch, but true to form, you have to jump through so many hoops to follow their corporate permutations that you end up getting lost in the forest. I mentioned the Kiewit connections in our DOJ complaint, and I outlined some of the Kiewit backdrop behind ES&S here:

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In my opinion, it is essential for the DOJ to unravel true ownership behind ES&S, because if they don't, how will they know that the next entity is not just the same guys hiding behind a different screen? And how would we know that a divestiture wasn't just the same game, different name?

So ES&S will probably be required to divest itself of its Diebold election purchase, but the devil will be in the details. We'll have to be exceptionally vigilant to find the real identities behind whoever picks it up from there.

Another consequence would be nice: There is precedent for the DOJ to recover costs for their investigation and any litigation when there is a wrongful acquisition under anti-trust laws. It would be justified in the ES&S acquisition, because ES&S has done this before! In 1997, ES&S acquired Business Records Corporation, triggering anti-trust action by the SEC. The company certainly knew better, but tried to create a monopoly again. They should pay.

All this being said, the bigger problem we are facing is concealment of key steps in elections from the public. If you conceal essential steps in a public election from the public, it ceases to be public. And if you cease having public elections, you no longer have liberty -- a violation of our highest-level human rights.

So while the antitrust investigation can at least hold another monster at bay, it doesn't solve the core issues. It does have potential to open some helpful information up for public examination, because the subpoenas will be flying, not only from the US DOJ but from the 14 states, and in most cases the responses to those documents will be obtainable through Freedom of Information actions. However, it took me four years to obtain the DOJ freedom of information documents on the investigation they did into me back in 2004, so let's not hold our breath for the document dump. And we can't request the records until after the investigation is closed.

In the mean time, we need to keep our eye on the ball: We need to restore public right to see and authenticate every step of elections. I can't emphasize enough how dangerous the situation is right now: We have destabilized our form of government through centralization of control, and we have transferred power to
insiders by authorizing undemocratic concealment of public election processes.

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Before we conclude, do you want to elaborate a little on what you said before about the core problem of "concealment of key steps in elections from thepublic?" What is the nature of this biggest problem facing our elections today?

Because we cannot see electrons, computerized counting conceals an essential step in public elections and therefore violates public right to know. Concealed vote counting systems have been deemed unconstitutional by the German equivalent of our Supreme Court, which has ruled that no public election can conceal any essential step in the election from the public.

Principles of public sovereignty over government are embedded into our Declaration of Independence (the document which provided much of the argumentation for women's suffrage), and are also internationally recognized and contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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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...)

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