Premier Election Solutions

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Premier Election Solutions, formerly named Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (DESI), is a major US elections vendor. Founded as Global Election Systems (GES), they were acquired by Diebold Inc., a banking and security corporation, in 2002. Bad press led Diebold to change the name of its election division to Premier, and eventually sell it to ES&S. However, the Justice Department recognized this as a monopoly and forced ES&S to sell Premier in 2010; it was acquired by Dominion.

History

Global begins in Canada

In 1983, Clinton H. Rickards founded North American Professional Technologies (NAPT), a Canadian technology company. One of NAPT's first projects, begun in 1986, was developing an electronic voting system. They partnered with Unisys Corporation in the US, which acquired a patent for a voting system based on Business Records Corporation's MTB-2 optical scanner. NAPT's new voting system came to be called the ES-200. Development was expensive, forcing NAPT to seek funds from Macrotrends International Ventures Inc., a venture capital firm based in Vancouver. By 1989, when the ES-200 was completed, NAPT had become a subsidiary of Macrotrends.

Unisys began marketing the ES-200 that same year. In the spring of 1990, Anoka County MN purchased the ES-200 for use in its primary and general elections. By that time, Unisys had started selling the ES-200 under the name AccuVote. NAPT's relationship with Unisys soon came to an end, however. In late 1991, NAPT merged with Macrotrends to form Global Election Systems. Global bought the rights to the patent Unisys had owned and got into the elections industry on its own. The programming office was in Vancouver, while the executive offices and manufacturing body were headquartered in McKinney TX.[1]

Getting funding from Macrotrends may have kept NAPT afloat, but it put them under the influence of some very unsavory folks. Multiple Macrotrends executives were engaged in financial crimes during the early years of NAPT/Global.

Norton Cooper, who marketed Macrotrends and its companies, had been jailed in 1974 for defrauding the Canadian government. During the 1980s, he sold so many fraudulent stock deals through Macrotrends that the Vancouver Stock Exchange (VSE) ordered Macrotrends to fire him in 1989. Cooper's stock fraud led to Forbes labeling the VSE as the "Scam Capital of the World".

Charles Hong Lee, a director of Macrotrends and NAPT, was a childhood friend of Cooper and was involved in some of his fraudulent ventures. When he and Cooper were sued in 1989 by investors in a Macrotrends venture, Lee failed to answer the lawsuit. He was ultimately ordered to pay over $500,000 in restitution.

In 1994, Lee defrauded Chinese immigrants out of more than $600,000 along with his business partner Michael K. Graye. Michael K. Graye, from 1987 to 1991, stole up to $18 million from four corporations, and was arrested in 1996 for tax fraud and money laundering. To make bail, a Hong Kong shell company sold "real estate" and got $300,000 from investors. Graye was simultaneously indicted on stock fraud charges for Vinex Wines, a US company he ran with Lee.

All three of these criminals played a pivotal role in running NAPT/Global in its early years. During that period, some of the core staff such as Talbot Iredale were hired. Lee and Graye were part of Global Election Systems for a short time after its 1991 founding, serving on the board of directors, but left within a couple years.[2]

Bob Urosevich and I-Mark

Bob Urosevich, founder and CEO of American Information Systems (the precursor to ES&S), left the company in late 1993. He founded a new voting machine company, I-Mark Systems, in 1995. I-Mark's goal was developing a touchscreen voting machine, which could eventually be deployed as a kiosk in public places (e.g. shopping malls) to supplant the need for polling places. Their machine became known as the Electronic Ballot Station (EBS). Its initial prototype was a standard PC running Windows 95, and it was certified by Kansas in mid-1997. After that, a second version (the EBS model 100) based on an embedded system was built, which got certified by Kentucky in the fall of 1997. It included a smart-card reader to authenticate voters.[1]

Rising in the elections industry

Throughout the 1990s[3] and early 2000s[4], Global Election Systems vastly grew its presence in the US elections industry. By the turn of the 21st century, their voting systems were in use in hundreds of jurisdictions across dozens of states.

In 1991, LHS Associates signed on as the New England distributor for Global's products. They began selling the AccuVote OS in 1992. Global's products would come to be adopted throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine, with LHS in charge of the memory card programming.

[Something about Fidlar/GBS]

Many of Global's senior managers in the 1990s came from corporate predecessors of ES&S. Two of them, Howard Van Pelt and Larry Ensminger, had played key roles in founding and managing Computer Election Systems[5], which in 1985 became part of BRC. Bob Urosevich's company I-Mark was acquired by Global in 1997. The touchscreen that I-Mark had developed was marketed by Global as the AccuTouch, later renamed the AccuVote TSx. Urosevich became a director and key executive at Global, attaining the role of president and COO by 2000.[1] Van Pelt and Ensminger left the company during that period to lead Shoup Voting Solutions.[6]

[Coming to King County WA in 1998, relationship with Spectrum, buying the company][7][8]

Global's optical scanners were used during the 2000 Florida election in dozens of counties. Two of these counties, Volusia and Brevard, saw Al Gore receive negative votes from certain precincts. His vote totals noticeably dropped on live TV before being corrected. Volusia County contacted Global about the vote miscount, which was confirmed by Global employees to have been the result of an intentionally-modified memory card, rather than a glitch as reported by the media. The Volusia County tampering and similar issues in Brevard County indicated an electronic vote rigging effort in favor of George W. Bush. No further inquiry was done to ascertain how prevalent this tampering was, leaving the possibility of numerous smaller vote modifications across the state that went unnoticed. Neither the county officials nor Global Election Systems professed to know the source of the apparent election rigging attempt.

Diebold acquires Global

On June 21, 2001, Diebold Inc. (an Ohio-based banking and security corporation) announced its signature of a letter-of-intent to acquire Global Election Systems. As part of the agreement, Diebold provided $5 million in immediate financing to Global (rescuing it from insolvency[9]) and took over the manufacturing of over 500 touchscreens for a contract Global held.[10]

The timing of Diebold's letter-of-intent was considered curious by Bev Harris. She noted that only the day before, on June 20, 2001, Global announced by email its plan to add fractional vote counts to GEMS. This new feature was likely supervised by Jeffrey Dean, who served as vice president of research and development. Dean had previously devised another GEMS feature intended for election fraud, and the fractional vote counts appeared to be in a similar vein. Harris suggested that Diebold might have agreed to prop up Global financially in return for them adding a feature (like vote fractionalization) to facilitate large-scale election fraud. This financial boost would have been particular crucial to Dean, who owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution to CG&G.

Diebold completed its acquisition (worth $26 million in cash and stock) on January 23, 2002.[11] The company was renamed to Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (DESI). Following the acquisition, Jeffrey Dean left his official roles at Global and became a consultant reporting to Pat Green (a Diebold employee from the ATM division assigned to oversee R&D for the election systems division).[12]

Procurement lobbying

There's no sign that Global or DESI lobbied for the Help America Vote Act in 2001 or 2002. HAVA sponsor Bob Ney claimed in his book that David DiStefano attempted to lobby him on behalf of Diebold Inc. (the Ohio corporation, not the voting machine subsidiary), but denied taking any action to benefit the company. Most of Diebold Election Systems' lobbying work was focused on influencing county and state officials to adopt Diebold voting machines after the passage of HAVA.

[Role in lobbying Cathy Cox to adopt Diebold systems and paying her off to accept the illegal patches][13]

[SAIC conflict of interest in Maryland with lobbyist Gilbert Genn][14][15]

[Diebold's lobbying dealings with the National Federation for the Blind (NFB)][16]

[Questionable lobbying payments to the ACG Group to lobby in Ohio][17][18]

[Paying Greenberg Traurig (Abramoff's firm) in 2003/2004 to lobby for NY procurement; also, what is Accenture being paid for?][19][20][21][22]

Ethics and PR disasters

[23]

Name-change and sale to ES&S

[24]

Forced divestment to Dominion

Products

Optical scanners

DRE machines

Election management systems

Absentee ballot processing

Subsidiaries

Employees

Board of directors

Executives

Programmers

Technicians

Controversies

Criminal employees

[Financial crooks from Vancouver, Jeffrey Dean and John Elder's roles, Talbot Iredale deliberately avoiding certification for 2002 Georgia election, Ken Clark (?) expressing willingness to break the rules, Sophia Lee exfiltrating a live election database, etc.]

Leaked files

[Global files left on open FTP server, emails leaked to Bev Harris, etc.]

Uncertified patches

[Illegal patches in the 2002 Georgia election, the use of uncertified software as revealed by Stephen Heller, Washington state not using real NASED numbers, etc.]

Security issues

[Avi Rubin review in 2003, numerous academic studies, Hursti hack, etc.]

Voting machine miscounts

[2000 Florida fraud, opscan issues in the 2004 Florida election, etc.]

Lobbying relationships

Suspect elections

2000 Florida general

Main article: 2000 Florida general election

In Volusia and Brevard County, both of which used the AccuVote OS, Al Gore received negative votes from uploaded precincts. This blatant vote miscount was shown to be the result of intentional memory card tampering in Volusia County, and it was likely the same reason in Brevard as well. While these two egregious cases of negative votes were caught on election night and fixed, the existence of a multi-county vote rigging effort against Gore suggests that hundreds of smaller electronic vote manipulations could have taken place across the state of Florida. Both county officials and the vendor claimed ignorance of what happened, even though the culprit was almost certainly one of those two.

2002 Georgia

Main article: 2002 Georgia general election

Diebold Election Systems received a contract from Georgia to install touchscreen voting machines in advance of the 2002 election. As a result, the entire election process was essentially privatized and conducted under the purview of Diebold. Multiple whistleblowers confirmed the installation of illegal software patches shortly before the primary and general elections, some of which oddly came directly from Diebold president Bob Urosevich. Georgia experienced multiple shocking Republican upsets in the 2002 election, most notably by Senate candidate Saxby Chambliss and gubernatorial candidate Sonny Perdue, and Cynthia McKinney was ousted from her congressional district in the 2002 Democratic primary.

2004 Florida general

Florida's AccuVote optical scanners once again showed signs of manipulation in the 2004 election. Volusia County election officials attempted to throw away and obstruct access to their precinct poll tapes, which showed irregularities indicative of memory card tampering. Optical scanners in Brevard and Leon counties exhibited multiple failures on election day, a further indication of manipulated code on the memory cards. Just as in 2000, there appeared to be a multi-county effort to rig optical scan results using the memory cards. Whether the county officials were the perpetrators or simply covering up for someone else (such as the vendor) is unknown.

2008 New Hampshire primary

Main article: 2008 New Hampshire primary

In a shocking disparity with both pre-election and exit polls, Hillary Clinton upset Barack Obama to win the 2008 New Hampshire primary. New Hampshire towns used a mixture of hand-counting, the gold standard of election accuracy, and AccuVote OS machines, programmed by the suspicious Diebold subcontractor LHS Associates. Statistical analysis revealed cause for concern with the integrity of the results: Clinton did better in machine counts than hand counts, even controlling for demographic factors. And an ensuing recount was evidently manipulated, indicating that New Hampshire election officials did not want to risk exposing electronic vote fraud.

Political connections

Pacific Northwest

  • Vancouver organized crime
  • Seattle political elite

National level


  • CIA? (based on Krogh as a possible CIA asset and John Elder's cocaine trafficking)

Corporate connections



References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Broken Ballots by Douglas W. Jones and Barbara Simons (quoted on the Verified Voting pages for the AccuVote OS and AccuVote TSx)
  2. Bev Harris, Black Box Voting, p.81-84
  3. Global news releases from late 1990s
  4. Global news releases from early 2000s
  5. Global company history page
  6. Lynn Landes, "RAW NOTES: VOTING SYSTEMS ORGS AND COMPANIES": DIEBOLD ELECTION SYSTEMS, INC
  7. Washington Secretary of State, "REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE ON THE EXAMINATION AND EVALUATION OF MODIFICATIONS TO AN OPTICAL SCAN ELECTRONIC VOTE TALLYING SYSTEM", 1998/09/14 - SoS Ralph Munro and King County WA approved the AccuVote OS in 1998
  8. Global Election Systems, press release on its intent to acquire Spectrum Ltd, 2000/08/10
  9. There are a couple internal emails from Global Election Systems employees revealing how the company was fraught with dysfunction

    Brian Clubb, "Resignation", 2001/10/05
    For the past three years I have worked for Spectrum then Global. Over that time I have become increasingly concerned about the apparent lack of concern over the practice of writing contracts to provide products and services which do not exist and then attempting to build these items on an unreasonable timetable with no written plan, little to no time for testing, and minimal resources. It also seems to be an accepted practice to exaggerate our progress and functionality to our customers and ourselves then make excuses at delivery time when these products and services do not meet expectations. The pressure to meet these deadlines and deal with repeated calls from sales staff and customers trying to ascertain actual progress versus exaggerated reports has become intolerable. The resulting stress has had a very negative effect on me both mentally and physically.

    As internal politics and mismanagement continue to divert attention and resources away from these issues, the problems become further and further entrenched. Since the acquisition of Spectrum by Global, none of the personal or workplace benefits which the employees of Spectrum were promised have yet been realized.

    This, in addition to the above issues, leads me to conclude that management is not concerned for the employees. Either they do not value the contributions of the employees, or are incapable of fulfilling these promises. Thus, seeing no end to this troubling situation, I find no other option but to end my employment with the company effective immediately.


    Mike Brown, "Fw: Battery Status & Charging---and too much bull!!", 2001/10/20
    It does not matter whether we get anything certified or not, if we can't even get the foundation of Global stable. This company is a mess! We should stop development on all new, and old products and concentrate on making them stable instead of showing vaporware. Selling a new account will only load more crap on an already over burdened entity.

    Everyone is waiting for Diebold to come and save us. What do you think Diebold will say when they see what a mess everything is, or more to the point what Global has not shown them, or maybe it will not matter at that time, hmmm...

    Every time I look at the support list there is another sales person or manager screaming we can't go forward without having to fix this or to fix that. You are taxing the development team beyond what they can handle. This is not there problem, it is yours.

    Elections are not rocket science. Why is it so hard to get things right! I have never been at any other company that has been so miss managed. I see blame being put on anything that moves. Communication does not exist! All I here from upper management is “That’s fine, he or she will be removed”. Upper management seems to think they know what is going on. They are to caught up in to much politics, and to much self importance, to even realize that there are employees watching them, waiting for some direction... We have allot of bright people in Global, why is it so hard to get things right....

    I just received a call from Ingrid, she says she is tired of getting calls from clients asking for help. No one at Global is giving them the time of day. Ingrid is the only name I will use in this conversation. I have had calls from other ex-employees stating the same thing.

    We have a management team that is so redundant, it is pathetic, and yet we don't have enough employees to get the work done. Wake up! We keep loosing good people, and yet management does not see this, or more to the point, “just keep everything going, Diebold is coming and everything will be fine”. Bull!!

    My views are my views only. If you wish to fire me for speaking the truth, bring it on... or fix this crap. The employees of this company are watching, waiting to see if you are the leaders that will keep them going, or the pathetic fools that will drive this company into the ground. I believe Global has great products, great ideas, great people, just get things right and we will be the best.


    Mike Brown, "Letter of Resignation", 2001/12/17
    This will confirm my resignation as a Support Specialist.

    My experience with Global Election Systems has been very rewarding. I appreciate having had the opportunity to work with some really great people. I realize my leaving will have an effect on Global, and I apologize for this. I would like to thank the Management team in McKinney for helping me make this difficult decision.

    Please feel free to contact me at any time should you have any questions regarding my past work. I hope that the transition will go smoothly for everyone.

    I feel that over the next year, if the current management team stays in place, the Global working environment will continue to be a chaotic mess. Global management has and will be doing the best to keep their jobs at the expense of employees. Unrealistic goals will be placed on current employees, they will fail to achieve them. If Diebold wants to keep things the same for the time being, this will only compound an already dysfunctional company. Due to the lack of leadership, vision, and self-preserving nature of the current management, the future growth of this company will continue to stagnate until change comes.
  10. Diebold Inc, "Diebold to Acquire Leading Voting Technology Company, Global Election Systems", 2001/06/21
  11. ATM Marketplace, "Diebold completes acquisition of Global Election Systems", 2002/01/23
  12. Steve Moreland, "Printed Products General Manager", 2002/02/04: "Jeff Dean has elected to maintain his affiliation with the company in a consulting role, reporting to Pat Green. The Diebold Election Division management team greatly values Jeff's contribution to this business and is looking forward to his continued expertise in this market place."
  13. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., "Will The Next Election Be Hacked?", 2006/09/21 (pages 2) - allegations of an unfair bidding process for the 2002 Georgia election
  14. Baltimore Sun, "Ethics panel to scrutinize Md. lobbyist", 2003/09/26 - controversy over Maryland lobbyist for Diebold and SAIC
  15. Science Applications International Corporation, "Risk Assessment Report: Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting System and Processes", 2003/09/02
  16. BBV forum post on Diebold, National Federation of the Blind (NFB), and Ohio
  17. BBV forum post on Juan Andrade, ACG Group, and other Diebold lobbyists
  18. BBV forum post on questionable lobbying finances by Diebold
  19. New York Times, "Vote Machine Replacement Lags, Despite Age", 2003/10/20 - article about HAVA upgrade lobbying
  20. Common Cause chart of vendor payments in NY
  21. North County Public Radio, "Common Cause/NY Tallies Lobby Spending of Voting Vendors as NYS Continues to Debate HAVA Implementation", 2004/12/20 - article about Common Cause compiling lobbying data
  22. 2004 Diebold payments to lobbyists and companies
  23. Wired, "How E-Voting Threatens Democracy", 2004/03/29 - covers the early story of Bev Harris getting involved with e-voting activism
  24. Bev Harris, "ES&S buyout: The Diebold "Special Persons" List", 2010/02/25 (BBV forum post): "In the ES&S acquisition contract for Diebold's Premier Election Systems, the following short list of employees are given special treatment. [...] In the event that any employee on list is terminated, for any reason -- EVER, because there is no time limit on this -- then ES&S has to notify Diebold in advance, in writing; and in the event that any employee on the list quits -- EVER, because there is no time limit on this -- then ES&S has to notify Diebold immediately to allow Diebold to put the employee on retainer. So these guys need to be on a short leash. In other words, they know stuff. [...] Some of these guys seem to be techs that handled some Ohio work."

External links