Guess Who's Going to Dinner with Diebold, Sequoia, and Electronic ES&S? The Groups Responsible for Insuring Electronic Votes Are Secure.
by Amanda Lang
When speakers from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) attend the August 24-28, 2004, Election Center's conference for federal and state election employees in Washington, DC, they will be participating in a huge conflict of interest as they eat, drink, and make-merry at the Diebold, Sequoia, and ES&S (voting machine vendors) sponsored events. Sequoia Voting Systems is co-sponsor for a dinner cruise on the Potomac and a monuments by night tour. A welcome reception compliments of Diebold with ES&S throwing in a graduation luncheon and awards ceremonies. It being Washington , members of the House and Senate are also invited.
The EAC, supposedly an independent bipartisan agency, was appointed by President George W. Bush following the Election Fiasco of 2000, and is authorized by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to serve as "...a national clearinghouse and resource for the comparison of information" on various matters involving the administration of Federal elections. The EAC wants to be more than a clearinghouse apparently -- EAC Chairman, DeForest Soaries**, recently authored a letter to Homeland Security czar, Tom Ridge, requesting his agency be "the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election" if a terrorist attack is launched in the U.S. As a result, Ridge's office has requested that the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel analyze what legal steps would be needed to permit the postponement of the election were an attack to take place. **Soaries, a Bush appointee, two years ago was an unsuccessful GOP candidate for Congress.
The Election Center is a nonprofit organization, which trains election workers and advises Congress and government agencies on election process issues. The Election Center also provides staff services to the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) for the voting systems program. NASED is responsible for the testing and certification (through independent laboratories) of voting systems hardware and software manufactured by Diebold, Sequoia, and ES&S Disturbing -- It could not be more inappropriate for this non-profit, non-partisan organization to accept money and funding from Diebold, Sequoia, and ES&S whose machines they are tasked to monitor. The Election Center executive director, R. Doug Lewis, confirmed in March that the Center has taken donations from all three vendors. The Sequoia donations surfaced on the Center 's latest 990 IRS filing. It revealed donations of $10,000 per year from 1997 through 2000.
According to the conference schedule, one of the big topics of the day is "The Media: Fighting Back--Getting the Story Straight." Is the Election Center suggesting that it is now the responsibility or duty of election officials to influence media coverage and reporting that has in the past, been highly critical of the many documented failures and flaws of these companies voting machines? (One analysis reveals that votes were not recorded for one out of 100 votes using the new ATM-style machines -- eight times more than pencil marks on paper ballots in the same election!)?
Write, email or call the EAC and the Election Center. Ask them to seek other sponsorship or funding that does not reflect such an egregious conflict of interest. Ask your representatives or senators in the 108th Congress to get off their butts, and practice a little oversight. Maybe they could even pass some legislation that would actually secure that most basic American right the right to vote and be counted.
Augusta , GA