Election Systems Task Force

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Vendor conference call

From Chapter 16 of Bev Harris's book, detailing a conference call with R. Doug Lewis, ITAA, and the major voting system vendors about an ITAA PR effort[1]:

One participant wanted to know if the “Election Systems Task Force” (who?) would be reconstituted or reformatted.

Though I can find out nothing about this group on the Internet, the answers to this question were illuminating.

A voice, apparently belonging to R. Doug Lewis, said that they have been “more focused on the HAVA legislation but would be interested in meeting with this group.” He went on to explain that the major companies involved in the Election Systems Task Force are Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Accenture and EDS (defense contractors and procurement agencies).

The goal of the Election Systems Task Force, he said, was very limited, because they just wanted to get the HAVA legislation enacted to create more business opportunities for themselves as integrators. Their agenda for HAVA, he said, was, “How do we get Congress to fund a move to electronic voting?”

ITAA e-voting PR plan

The Election Systems Task Force is mentioned a couple times in ITAA's draft PR plan for the e-voting industry[2]:

Deliverables

[...]

  5. Create comprehensive media plan to articulate key messages, identify outreach strategy and tactics, synchronize timing of media outreach to election milestones and other significant events, and raise visibility of issues, activities, and the ITAA Election Systems Task Force itself.
ITAA recommends the following schedule of major milestones to bootstrap this effort:

[...]

September 3    Election Systems Task Force conducts teleconference to review and refine plan
ITAA provides an ideal forum to undertake this program, offering:

[...]

* an existing Election Systems Task Force and internal staff resources well schooled in the underlying issues

This indicates that the Task Force is itself a part of the ITAA, and existed before the PR plan.

Activities

The nature of the Election Systems Task Force is unclear. From the e-voting PR plan, it's clear that the Task Force is a subgroup of ITAA that existed sometime before the August 22, 2003 vendor meeting.[2] All four of its leading members - defense contractors Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Accenture, and Electronic Data Systems - were ITAA members since at least 2000. According to R. Doug Lewis, the Task Force was initially focused on getting the Help America Vote Act enacted to create "business opportunities" for themselves.[1] This would place its formation in 2001 or 2002. By August 2003, nearly a year after HAVA was signed into law, the ITAA planned to employ the Task Force to help with its voting machine PR effort.[2]

It's not known what the Election Systems Task Force did to push for HAVA. Of the Task Force's four leading members, only Accenture showed up as an industry lobbyist for the bill. Nor is it clear what "business opportunities" were sought by the companies; Lewis only vaguely refers to them seeking to be "integrators". In 2001, EDS began developing a military e-voting system for overseas personnel, but that wouldn't have fallen under the purview of HAVA.[3] That same year, Accenture partnered with election.com, a Saudi-owned US election firm, and also lobbied for a Pentagon Internet voting contract. Northrop Grumman partnered with voting machine vendor Diversified Dynamics in 2002 exactly one day after HAVA was signed into law. All of these business ventures ultimately went nowhere. Lockheed Martin had no discernible link to the elections industry at all.

A quite important, and related, question is on whose behalf the Election Systems Task Force was lobbying. Lewis implied that they were lobbying on their own behalf, which is already strange for a subgroup of a lobbying association like ITAA to do. But in 2003, the Task Force was enlisted by ITAA to lobby for the major voting machine vendors - ES&S, Diebold, Sequoia, and Hart Intercivic - who would likely be the Task Force members' competition in the elections industry. So this questions whether the Task Force was truly attempting to break into the elections industry, or whether their unprofitable business ventures were merely a front for the military-industrial complex to push electronic voting for other reasons.

Interestingly, since a vendor participating in the teleconference asked about the Task Force and Lewis answered them[1], the Task Force was already known to the Election Center and vendors before they hired the ITAA for the PR effort. However, the vendor only seemed familiar with it in passing, while Lewis knew much more about it. Combined with the fact that Lewis set up the meeting between the ITAA and vendors, that implies that the ITAA and/or Election Systems Task Force was already working with the Election Center before the PR effort. And the Election Center was heavily involved with the vendors and their certification process.

Parent organization

Membership

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Account of an industry meeting
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 eVoting Industry Coalition DRAFT plan
  3. EDS and Accenture both intended to provide military voting technology in 2002

External links

  • Peter Phillips, "Democracy Fails - Corporations Win", 2004/11/04: "Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Diebold, and Sequoia are the companies primarily involved in implementing the new voting stations throughout the country. All three have strong ties to the Bush Administration. The largest investors in ES&S, Sequoia, and Diebold are government defense contractors Northrup-Grumman, Lockheed-Martin, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Accenture. Diebold hired Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC) of San Diego to develop the software security in their voting machines." (TODO: Is any of this actually true? It seems to be based on a clumsy reading of Mark Lewellen-Biddle, "Voting Machines Gone Wild!", 2003/12/11.)