Month: February 2018

General
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The Hidden History of Electronic Voting Machines

“Former CIA Station Chief John Stockwell writes that one of the favorite tactics of the CIA during the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s was to control countries by manipulating the election process…. Documents illustrate that the Reagan and Bush administration supported computer manipulation in both Noriega’s rise to power in Panama and in Marcos’ attempt to retain power in the Philippines. Many of the Reagan administration’s staunchest supporters were members of the Council for National Policy.” — Dr. Bob Fitrakis, Senior Editor, The Free Press

The quote above is significant because the original funders of the first major US electronic voting machine company, Data Mark (which is now ES&S), were the evangelical Christian Ahmanson family. Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr. was a member of the secretive Council for National Policy, a rightwing organization that featured members such as John K. Singlaub (a founding member of the CIA), Ku Klux Klan leader Richard Shoff, Oliver North and other Iran-Contra figures, and many other hard-right ideologues.

The Ahmanson family has given hundreds of millions of dollars to various conservative initiatives. They fund groups that push for the teaching of creationism in schools and are main contributors to the infamous Chalcedon Institute, which supports mandating the death penalty for gays, exclusion of citizenship for non-Christians, and if that wasn’t enough, bringing back slavery.

In the halls of power they are most well known for starting one of the most powerful think tanks in the world, the Heritage Foundation, which was a major policy provider for the Reagan administration. Their family fortune was given a huge boast in the wake of the Savings and Loan scandal in the late ’80s when then President George Bush Sr. enacted The Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), which allowed their company, Home Savings of America, to acquire 17 other companies at “fire sale” prices.

Data Mark was run by two brothers, Bob and Todd Urosevich. Bob became the CEO of the company and Todd was a top executive. They both wrote the software programs for the voting machines.

After the name of the company was changed to American Information Systems (AIS), the Ahmanson family later sold some of their interests in the company to the McCarthy Group. Michael McCarthy, founder of the McCarthy Group, and Chuck Hagel, a major financial backer, took control of the company. When Hagel became the company’s Chairman of the Board that freed up Bob Urosevich to leave the company and start the other major voting machine company Diebold Election Systems. However, his brother Todd stayed on as a top executive at AIS.

Chuck Hagel then decided to blatantly exploit the situation and run for a senate seat in Nebraska, despite never holding public office before. He then chose McCarthy to be his campaign finance director. In 1996, after computerizing Nebraska’s vote, Hagel stepped down from his chairman position of AIS (hiding the fact that he even held the position) and went on to beat a very popular incumbent Democrat in what media outlets called a “stunning, major upset.” He became the first Republican to win a Senate seat in Nebraska in 24 years. He even won many African-American communities that had never before voted Republican. And… it was done on his (AIS) unauditable machines, the machines his company had just sold to the state.

In 1997, AIS acquired a Texas based election company, Cronus Industries, which was owned by the Hunt oil family, and changed the name of the company again to its current name, Election Systems & Software (ES&S). The Hunt family, like the Ahmanson family, was also original funders and members of the Council for National Policy.

This all means that the two Urosevich brothers, supported by the Ahmanson family and their Council for National Policy cohorts, directly control over 80% of the US vote. The only people who can confirm the legitimacy and true outcome of our elections are top executives of these companies.

Getting back to Diebold, Bob Urosevich put Walden W. O’Dell in charge of the company. O’Dell was a major funder and fundraiser for the Bush campaign and after having a “strategy session” with George Bush at his Crawford, Texas ranch he wrote the following fundraising letter in 2003: “I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year.” Shortly thereafter, Diebold completely revamped Ohio’s voting system. Also, a little known fact is that former ES&S Chairman (now Nebraska senator) Chuck Hagel was originally on a very short list to be Bush’s running mate and choice for Vice President in 2000. This while another major ES&S lobbyist, Sandra Mortham, played a significant role in Jeb Bush’s gubernatorial election.

Now, if all this is not shady enough, enter HAVA.

The greatest piece of legislation the Electronic voting machine companies ever got was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). This opened up the flood-gates for electronic machines mandating that all states use them. However, surprisingly, ES&S, Diebold and Sequoia were not the biggest lobbyists for this bill. A company called VoteHere (changed name to Dategrity) spent more money trying to pass HAVA through Congress than all those companies combined. If you look at the backers of HAVA, you’ll find a Who’s Who list of military industrial companies and top-ranking intelligence officials. Other than VoteHere, companies like Northrop-Grumman and Lockheed-Martin were supporters, having military companies meddling in the election process is an astonishingly frightening conflict of interest, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

After former VoteHere engineer Dan Spillane identified 250 flaws in their election computer certification process, he was fired. Spillane told Bev Harris of Blackbox voting, “The voting machine industry is a house of cards. And the certification and testing process is the bottom card in the house of cards.”

So let’s get to the bottom of this house of cards.

Who is this VoteHere company? VoteHere “aspires to provide cryptography and computer software security for the electronic election industry.” Basically, they want total control of the “security” on all electronic voting machines. As of right now, it appears that Diebold and Sequoia use VoteHere cryptography in their voting systems. They also have a deal with election systems in the UK.

Who is involved in this ambitious enterprise?

VoteHere founder and President is Jim Adler, a cryptography expert who worked for General Dynamics Space Systems / Lockheed Martin. VP of Finance and Administration, K.C. Watkins came to VoteHere after seventeen years with Accenture. Accenture was another big supporter of HAVA. Accenture, who used to be an arm of the infamous Arthur Andersen, is a member of USCSI (a WTO organization), and US Trade, a group that supports fast track trade authority. Accenture recently bought Election.com and are providing “comprehensive election solutions to governments worldwide.” They were involved in a scandal in Canada when they were contracted to overhaul Ontario’s welfare system. They projected that the contract would cost $50 million, but when the total cost reached $246 million, the government was forced to drastically cut welfare. Not surprising that a WTO and fast track trade company would run the welfare system into the ground though, is it? But let’s not get fast tracked, I mean, sidetracked.

VoteHere formed a partnership with Advanced Voting Solutions. AVS is run by Howard Van Pelt, who was once CEO of Diebold and ran Global Elections. He was also President of the scandalous Shoup Voting Solutions (now Advanced Voting Solutions). Shoup Voting officers were indicted for bribing politicians in Florida and founder Ransom Shoup was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction charges in rigging a Philadelphia election. Van Pelt has also been an adamant supporter of not having machines that leave a paper trail.

This is where it gets even more interesting…

Current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the VoteHere board of directors. Gates is of course a former CIA Director; Iran-Contra conspirator; close personal friend of George Bush Sr.; CIA Director under him and was head of the George Bush School of Business at Texas A&M. He was Bush Jr.’s first choice to be the first ever Director of National Intelligence, a position created shortly after 9/11. VoteHere was not Gates’ first election machine company, he was also a board member of TRW Cogent, a Northrup Grumman company.

VoteHere’s former Chairman is Admiral Bill Owens, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a member of the Defense Policy Board and he even served as a military aide to both Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, who also worked with Bush Sr. at the Carlyle Group. However, other than Gates and Owens being cronies of Bush Sr. and Cheney and sitting on the VoteHere board together, they also have another pivotal connection. They were both top executives at Scientific Applications International Corp. (SAIC). Owens was the President and CEO of SAIC and Gates was a board member. This is significant because SAIC has been involved in testing security standards for the voting machine industry. So you have VoteHere providing the security and SAIC testing the security. Both are companies that were run by Robert Gates and Bill Owens. I would think that it is logical to say that if there were anyone who could get away with rigging the elections, it would be top executives at these two companies working together. And who better to pull this off than SAIC?