VoteHere

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VoteHere is a mysterious election vendor whose most significant contribution to the industry has been lobbying for the Help America Vote Act and paperless e-voting. Founded during the dotcom bubble by a tech entrepreneur, who propped it up through venture capital funds, VoteHere quickly acquired a strange group of insiders from the elections and defense industries. The two most notable arrivals were Admiral Bill Owens and Robert Gates, military and CIA leaders who were both on the board of defense contractor SAIC. Under the direction and guidance of these insiders, VoteHere poured significantly more money into HAVA than all the major vendors (ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia) combined. They later ended up lobbying against a paper trail requirement for New York's voting machines. The actual products made by VoteHere gained little traction, so its actions in the industry mainly only served to benefit the large, existing players. This oddity has fueled suspicions that VoteHere was actually a front, for the CIA or military-industrial complex, meant to serve as a lobbying apparatus unconnected to the main vendors.

History

Formation and early years

VoteHere was founded in 1998 by Jim Adler, a cryptographer and technology entrepreneur. Its initial goal was to implement a secure Internet voting solution. Adler secured $15 million in funding from Compaq, Cisco, and Northwest Venture Associates by November 2000. The company partnered with Compaq in late 2000 to demo Internet voting, and publicly released its source code for review, but was met with harsh criticism from a 2001 security report. By 2003, VoteHere had only made a couple sales, to towns in Georgia and England as well as the Swedish Conservative Party, and closed its source code.[1]

During VoteHere's early years, it attracted several defense industry and elections insiders. Ralph Munro, Secretary of State in Washington for 20 years, joined VoteHere's board in January 2001 right after the end of his SoS term.[2] Admiral Bill Owens, senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney as well as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Bill Clinton, was named chairman of VoteHere's board in December 2001.[3] Robert Gates, Iran-Contra veteran and former CIA director under George H.W. Bush, took a seat on the advisory board likely around the same time.[4] Both Owens and Gates had been on the board of directors of SAIC shortly before joining VoteHere.

HAVA lobbying

Main article: Help America Vote Act

VoteHere was the biggest election industry lobbyist for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), spending more than ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia combined to lobby for the adoption of electronic voting systems. This was quite strange given VoteHere's tiny size, apparent lack of a revenue stream, and nearly nonexistent role in the elections industry compared to these larger companies. VoteHere's lobbying effort towards HAVA seemed far out of proportion with its business prospects.[5]

From 2001 to 2002, congressional lobbying forms show that VoteHere spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for HAVA and other election-related issues (such as Internet voting for the military). They lobbied on their own behalf as well as through the Rhoads Group firm. The lobbying record is as follows:

  • Jul 1, 2001 - Dec 31, 2001: VoteHere spends $120,000
  • Jan 1, 2002 - Jun 30, 2002: Rhoads Group spends $80,000
  • Jan 1, 2002 - Jun 30, 2002: VoteHere spends $220,000
  • Jul 1, 2002 - Dec 31, 2002: Rhoads Group spends $20,000
  • Jul 1, 2002 - Dec 31, 2002: VoteHere spends $140,000

In total, VoteHere spent about $580,000 lobbying for HAVA and related bills.

They later lobbied to influence the implementation of HAVA in New York. VoteHere paid Mirram Global, a firm run by the political adviser to Democratic mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer, $10,000 a month in 2005 to block state legislation requiring paper ballots in voting systems.[6]

Vendor agreements

In 2003, VoteHere developed a purported cryptographic solution for vote verification that didn't require a paper trail. The goal was to convince the major election vendors to incorporate this product into their voting systems. Sequoia partnered with VoteHere for that purpose in August 2003[7], although there's no evidence that Sequoia ever did adopt VoteHere's software. Bev Harris found documents about VoteHere's product in Diebold's dumpster, indicating that Diebold considered a similar partnership but ultimately did not pursue it. Maryland State Administrator of Elections Linda Lamone also showed up in letters related to VoteHere.[5]

Allegation of hacking

Around June 2003, VoteHere announced its intent to release their software for public scrutiny. That October, VoteHere reported that they had been hacked. Jim Adler said that the FBI and Secret Service investigated, concluding that the hack was politically-motivated and linked to the leak of the Diebold memos. Bev Harris had published these memos a month earlier. In October, Harris was emailed a link to stolen VoteHere software, which she suspected was an entrapment scheme. It made no sense to her to look at illegally-obtained software that was about to be released openly. Harris later spoke to someone claiming to be the VoteHere hacker, which only reaffirmed that belief. Adler said VoteHere was unsure whether their software was stolen, but agreed that stealing it would have made little sense.[8]

Between October 18, 2003 and December 6, 2003, Owens and Gates both appeared to depart from VoteHere. Munro was named the new chairman of the company. The advisory board was either eliminated or made secret.[9] It is unknown if their departures were tied to the hacking incident.

Harris soon found herself under investigation by the Secret Service in connection with the alleged hack. From January 9, 2004 to sometime in April 2004, she had five meetings with Agent Michael Levin. Harris questioned the legitimacy of the investigation on April 29, saying that it "no longer passes the stink test". Even though the investigation was purportedly about the VoteHere hack, Harris says she was mainly questioned about the Diebold memos, which the Secret Service claimed not to be investigating. They also pressured her into turning over visitor logs to her Black Box Voting website, again unrelated to the VoteHere hack investigation.

When Harris refused, the Secret Service said they intended to subpoena her in front of a grand jury. However, following Seattle Weekly's story on the Secret Service investigation, it was abruptly dropped.[8]

Becoming Dategrity

[10][11][12]

Products

Employees

Board of directors

Advisory board

Executives

  • CEO: Jim Adler (????-????)
  • Chief scientist: Andrew Neff

Controversies

Military-industrial/CIA ties

Diebold evaluation

Alleged hack

Political connections

Corporate connections

References

  1. Bev Harris investigation of VoteHere
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ralph Munro appointed director
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bill Owens appointed chairman
  4. April 2003 board
  5. 5.0 5.1 VoteHere's contact with Diebold and Sequoia
  6. Lobbying in New York against a paper trail in 2005
  7. Sequoia partnership
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harassment of Bev Harris after the alleged hack
  9. December 2003 board
  10. Expansion and name-change to Dategrity
  11. Announcement of the Mail-in Ballot Tracker
  12. 2013 WA court case over VoteHere VBM product
  13. David Bullis was on the board in 2002

External links

  • Firing of Dan Spillane
  • Democratic Underground thread on defense industry ties to e-voting
  • Bev Harris writes about her radio debate with Jim Adler
  • Involvement of VoteHere and Ralph Munro with the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) called by Bob Ney after the 2004 election
  • DU thread claims that Ralph Munro was previously a president of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS)
  • Black Box Voting, "Exposing the Crypto Solution", 2005/01/11
    • "6) You had defense policy board member Bill Owens, and former CIA director Robert Gates on your board of directors. That was when you hadn't sold anything for years, and your company was barely a blip. What did you have to promise to get such high level people from the defense industry and national security agencies to commit to your company?"
    • "7) Actually, what is your means of support? You had some venture capital years back, but can you provide us with a full list of names of everyone who is an investor in your company, including through conduits like holding companies? Will you also provide us with a financial statement so we can see the origin of your revenues over the past 5 years?"
    • "9) Documents show that you have been in contact with Linda Lamone in the state of Maryland trying to get your solution implemented there. What is the status of that?"
    • "10) You signed a contract with Sequoia Voting Systems in August 2003. Can you tell me if/when you installed VoteHere into any Sequoia system, and what the status is currently?"
    • "14) Can you explain the resolution of the lawsuit against you by your former test engineer, Dan Spillane, who contended that he identified more than 250 security flaws with your system?"
  • David Vincent, "Who is Going To Steal the 2008 Election?"
    • "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?

      “Pulling Out the Bottom Card”
      SAIC is a pillar of the Military Industrial Complex and is deeply intertwined in the intelligence community. SAIC is known as “The shadow ruling-class within the Pentagon.” Over 5,000 of their employees have security clearances. Some having the highest top-secret clearances possible. SAIC’s board is virtually a Who’s Who of the Military Industrial Complex old guard. Other than Gates and Owens; another ex-CIA director Bobby Ray Inman, who was director of the National Security Agency, and vice director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; and Retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing, who served as chief counter-terrorism expert on the National Security Council. SAIC also has joint ventures with Bechtel.

      As Keith Nightingale, one of Gates and Owens’ operatives said, “We are a stealth company. We’re everywhere, but almost never seen.”

      Almost never seen… For a publicly known example of how SAIC operates, check Diebold lobbyist Gilbert J. Glenn. He was trying to get Maryland to buy new Diebold voting machines. The Maryland legislatures were hesitatant to purchase the machines fearing security issues. So the state decided, after Gilbert J. Glenn suggested it, to hire SAIC to test the security of the systems. Essentially, they had the people who possibly provided the security to the machines to begin with coming in to audit and verify the security of the machines. And the icing on the cake, it later turned out that Gilbert J. Glenn was not only a lobbyist for Diebold, he was also a lobbyist for SAIC. So now we have SAIC people working for VoteHere and Diebold. I would be very interested to uncover other employees that interconnect with voting machine companies and SAIC.

      VoteHere has erased any mention of Gates and Owens from their website and filled the board of the company with more legit looking executives with programming backgrounds. As I previously mentioned, they even recently changed their name, which is standard operating procedure for intelligence front companies and all the major electronic voting machine companies. It is a simplistic and outdated move, but it does provide minor difficulties in trying to research them. My source believes that VoteHere is essentially a SAIC shell company and they together secretly control the “security” of the entire US election system.

      It is phenomenal (although not surprising) that Congress let Gates’ Secretary of Defense confirmation pass in congress without ever mentioning or questioning his ties to SAIC, VoteHere, HAVA and the electronic voting machine industry."

Senate lobbying forms

Jennifer Curley