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ES&S Pouts, Stamps Foot, Complies Anyway, After Minor Spanking by the EAC

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Guest Blogged by John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org As a result of the recent Dan Rather Reports investigation titled "The Trouble With Touchscreens" (complete remarkable video here) the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) discovered that Election Systems and Software (ES&S) had manufactured their touch-screen voting systems in a sweatshop in Manila, The Philippines, and that they had failed to declare that fact to the EAC as required by law. Upon discovering the issue from Rather's team, the EAC sent a letter to Steven M. Pearson, Vice President of Certification for ES&S as a "Notice of Non Compliance" [PDF] for the failure to disclose the origins of the company's iVotronic DRE voting system. Predictably, like a spoiled little child, ES&S stamped it's foot, feigned innocence, asks questions about which they knew the answer, and ultimately complied with the requirements they had tried to skirt in the first place. In the EAC's letter, as we reported two weeks ago Brian Hancock, Director of Voting Systems Certification at the EAC stated: "It has come to our attention that Election Systems & Software, Inc (ES&S) may be using a facility in Manila, Philippines to assemble some of its voting systems. As you know, it is a requirement for participants in the Election Assistance Commission's Voting System Testing and Certification Program to disclose the locations of all manufacturing and assembly facilities. Information about the Manila facility was not included in the list of facilities ES&S provided to EAC." Hancock then gave ES&S 30 days to comply with the requirements. A week or so later, on August 22, Pearson responded back to Hancock in an embarrasingly childish response [PDF] declaring -- as is the norm whenever one of these voting machine vendors gets called on the carpet -- that responding to concerns about the integrity of our elections "could undermine voter confidence." When caught violating some rule a child will blame someone else first. In this case ES&S chose to blame the EAC (the parental figure in this case) for it's own failures and inability to follow the rules which have allowed them to rake in billions of tax-payer dollars. In the response letter, ES&S' Pearson petulantly writes: "In this situation, the process through which you first posted a notice on your Web site and distributed it to election officials across the country, without contacting us first for explanation, created confusion and could undermine voter confidence in the entire field of elections. This has broad ramifications for everyone involved in carrying out elections; vendors, election officials, and even the EAC. Further still, this entire situation appears to have been driven by the promotion of a then yet-to-be-aired news media report. If we had been given the opportunity to present our information to you directly, we are confident this matter would have been resolved to your full satisfaction, without raising unnecessary concerns among the elections community we have served and supported for nearly 35 years." So, it was the EACs fault for questioning ES&S about why they did not report that some of their systems were built in the Philippines. Not ES&S'. According to Pearson and ES&S, it was the EAC, not them, who was undermining voter confidence by not keeping the tepid attempt at accountability a complete secret from those most affected by it: the voting public. In the next phase the child will then take credit for superhuman deeds and make excuses for why those deeds did not reach the correct outcome. "After receiving your communication, we have dedicated an extraordinary amount of time to reviewing the facts surrounding this situation. Importantly, ES&S, at the time of our Manufacturing Registration to the EAC, made a deliberate and thorough effort to complete the EAC's Manufacturing Registration. There was never any intent by ES&S not to disclose or to misrepresent any portion of the registration information." We guess they just forgot to mention it. Then the child will find an around-about means of admitting the facts even though they are already well known by this time. "Regarding the Manila facility, Pivot International of Lenexa, Kansas, is the prime manufacturer for ES&S' iVotronic system, various sub-components for the iVotronic, and the ES&S Model 100 optical scanner. ES&S and Pivot have a longstanding relationship dating back to 1998. Pivot sub-contracts and oversees the final assembly of the iVotronic and M-1oo to Teletech Telesystems, Inc. ("TTI"), in Manila, Philippines, and has done so since 1998." After finally admitting to the facts, the child will then ask questions in order to make it seem that they did not understand the rules in the first place. Again a means of trying to point the blame elsewhere. Of course, they should have asked at the outset if there was any confusion about those rules. In this case, the child (ES&S), feigning confusion about those rules, asks for clarification of what they fully understood in the first place, before finally asking questions that become more and more childish as they ask them. "In order for ES&S and the other voting system manufacturers to provide the EAC with an adequate level of information, it is important for us to get clarification from the EAC, at minimum, on the following general questions: 1. Do we only list the final assembly facilities? 2. Do we list all sub-assembly facilities? And components manufacturing facilities? 3. Are we required to list all COTS equipment manufacturers and/or assembly and sub-assembly facilities? 4. Are plastic modeling facilities and sub-contractors meant to be included in this requirement? 5. Does this requirement only pertain to current and future manufacturers and/or assembly facilities? Or, do you want historical lists looking back to before the EAC's certification responsibility? 6. Does the requirement include previous manufacturers and/or assembly facilities as in the case of Pivot International's use of the Manila facility? Is so, how far back?" And how did this recalcitrant child-like company end their letter? Why, they gave the EAC a list of exactly what they were supposed to have provided the EAC in the first place when they submitted their "Manufacturing Registration", of course. So they blamed everyone else, stomped their feet, asked childish questions, then gave the information that was requested long ago and which would have remained a mystery had not one journalist bothered to show up and do the job of being a watchdog for the people. And the "parental figure", the EAC smiled, patted the child on the head, agreed to clarify the requirements and thanked the child for giving up the information that was requested in the first place. That letter is here [PDF]. Perhaps it's time to send ES&S to their room for a time-out?
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John is the Executive Director of VotersUnite.Org
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