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October 21, 2012

Why You Should Worry That Romney Associates Bought Company That Controls Ohio's Election Voting

-- by Dave Johnson

I just have to say again that it just blows my mind learning that Romney associates bought the company that makes the voting machines that will be used to vote and count the votes in Ohio, Colorado and other states. This is very serious, and a lot of non-tech people just don't get it. (I had one person say to me that it doesn't matter because computers don't make mistakes.)

Take this seriously, people -- the timing and the people involved tell us this is fishy. This isn't radical conspiracy stuff, talk to computer professionals, many of them really worry about electronic voting machines and the reporting systems in use these days.

Here are some links to stories about this. And please, please click through for links, and expanded details:

Brad Friedman, who has been on the voting machines issue all along, posted About that Voting Machine Company Tied to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital...

Late last month, Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis at FreePress.org broke the story of the Mitt Romney/Bain Capital investment team involved in H.I.G. Capital which, in July of 2011, completed a "strategic investment" to take over a fair share of the Austin-based e-voting machine company Hart Intercivic.

... Lee Fang at The Nation recently confirmed the FreePress reporting in a story of his own on the "crony capitalism" of Tagg Romney, whose father's money and high-profile connections present a number of troubling corporate conflicts of interest should Mitt Romney become President. The Daily Dolt also followed up with a very well-documented article on the H.I.G. group, their connections to Bain, and their takeover of Hart Intercivic.

... Also this week, in a video that has gone a bit viral, The David Pakman Show expressed understandable concerns about Romney's close business partners having this type of corporate control over a large e-voting company whose, extremely vulnerable and insecure [PDF] --- and often 100% unverifiable --- voting and tabulation systems are now used, according to VerifiedVoting.org's database, in all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

PLEASE go read the rest.

Rick Ungar at Forbes: Romney Family Investment Ties To Voting Machine Company That Could Decide The Election Causing Concern,

And while I am not suggesting conspiracies or that anyone would get involved in any foul play here, most particularly the GOP candidate for President, how is it possible that so many people could exercise so much bad judgment?

The sanctity of voting in America is supposed to be one of our most important virtues. So concerned are we with a ‘clean’ process that James O’Keefe has made a career entrapping, video taping and destroying those sympathetic to Democratic Party candidates and causes who cross the line when it comes to the voting process. And that’s just fine. If Mr. O’Keefe can legitimately expose someone engaging in voter fraud, he most certainly should call them out.

So, why would these individuals who serve on the board of directors of Hart Intercivic go out of their way to make a contribution to any political candidate given the critical importance of their company remaining above reproach when it comes to the political process? And why would those who run the company that owns Hart Intercivic be giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to a political candidate? And why would a political candidate and his family have a financial relationship with a company that owns a chunk of the voting machine company that will be counting the actual votes given to that political candidate or his opponent?

This is one story that Friedman refers to traces Romney connections to the company buying the voting machines company, Romney, Bain Tied To Voting Machine Company To Be Used in Swing States,

Hart InterCivic is a national provider of election voting systems that are used in swing-states Ohio and Colorado, as well as in states we don’t really care about so much because we already know how they’ll turn out (e.g., Texas, Oklahoma, and Hawaii). Private equity firm H.I.G. Capital, LLC bought out a “significant” portion of Hart in July of 2011, and now the majority of Hart’s board directors are employees of H.I.G. (It’s not entirely clear how much of the voting machine company H.I.G. owns, but the financial advisors responsible for the transaction state that “Hart Intercivic was acquired by HIG Capital.”)

H.I.G., in turn, has ties to Bain & Co. and Mitt Romney directly:

  • H.I.G. was founded by Tony Tamer, a former Bain employee and bundler for Mitt Romney’s campaign.

  • Of H.I.G.’s 22 American directors, 21 donated to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. ...

  • Of these 22 American directors, seven of them (nearly one-third) are former Bain employees. ...

  • Four of H.I.G.’s directors, Tony Tamer, John Bolduc, Douglas Berman, and Brian D. Schwartz, are Romney bundlers along with former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.

  • Two of H.I.G.’s managing directors, Douglas F. Berman and Brian D. Schwartz, were present at the $50,000 per plate fundraiser where Mitt Romney made his notorious ”47%” comments.

  • H.I.G. employees currently make up the majority of the Hart InterCivic’s five-member board of directors. Two of these three directors of the voting machine company, Neil Tuch and Jeff Bohl, have donated directly to Mitt Romney’s campaign.

  • H.I.G. is the 11th largest donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign. H.I.G. employees have given $338,000 to the Romney campaign, outpacing even Bain Capital itself, which gave $268,000.
    (Sidenote: Are we the only ones to notice that every single one of H.I.G.’s 22 American directors is white and male? Not related to the Mitt Romney issue, but sheesh.)

  • PLEASE click through. (Note there is a difference between Bain Capital and Bain&Co. The former is a spin-off from the latter. I also don't like the term "has ties to," that's very Glenn-Beckian, but these are strong and real ties. Also they give the appearance of a problem whether they are actually a problem or not -- major supporters of a candidate buying the voting and counting machines that will decide if that candidate wins... and this hurts the public's -- to use Romney's economy word -- confidence.)

    Here is Lee Fang on The David Pakman Show:

    My Thoughts:

    We have to insist that there is sufficient random checking of the paper records in the machines against what the machines report, and of precinct results against what gets reported, esp in Ohio. (Of course it is better if every precinct is checked against reporting, but that is a big job that will be hard to get.) And seriously, if a single precinct result is different from what is reported, we have a potential tampering problem and should demand that all precincts are checked against what is reported.

    Also, if more than a few voters in a precinct are reporting that they see something different on the paper from what they thought they voted, that also indicates a potential tampering problem.

    Anyway it is possible to have secure systems. We certainly knew how to do that -- and knew the REASONS we had to do that -- back when we all used paper ballots and ballot boxes. "Ballot stuffing" happened all the time, so they came up with checks and balances.

    Now there is much more at stake, but we no longer seem to worry about these things. But obviously if you think about it, there will be even more reason to "stuff ballots" because there is so much money involved!

    History tells us election tampering WILL be a problem! So we should be demanding that the right checks and balances are in place to make it harder to tamper with elections, and I don't see it happening.

    Once again, back when we had paper ballots and ballot boxes people came up with all kinds of schemes to tamper with elections, and we developed more and more checks and balances to make it hard to do that. It happened all the time. History says people will always be trying to tamper with our elections. Now that we use computers we seem to have less security, fewer checks and balances at the same time as the stakes are SO much higher!

    And of course, there is also the cost in people's faith in our elections. Never mind if there actually is any tampering, etc, when people hear that Tag Romney and a bunch of Bain partners are involved in buying a voting machine company before an election in which Bain Capital's Mitt Romney is running for chief plutocrat -- and in which one strategy of his party is keeping people from voting ... well just for the reason of giving people faith in the choices the voters make, we should demand that every single precinct is carefully double-checked!

    Barriers

    There are barriers to fixing this problem. One is that this privatization of elections is a corporate effort, and they have salespeople and lobbyists wining and dining local election officials around the country, offering to "solve" their resource problems through automation. They have put serious money into selling this. There's money in selling this hardware and maintenance contracts.

    The technology is not complex, but securing the results and making them transparent is resource-intensive. Actually checking those paper rolls in those machines that at least have them means people sitting there and checking and comparing from each machine. And then checking the reported precinct results against the actual precinct counts is also a major effort. The whole idea of the machines was to save money. And double-checking to be sure thecomputers did it right and were not tampered with costs money.

    But here is the biggest barrier: if you try to say anything about this, this is what happens -- typical elite hatred of the citizens and their concerns:

    https://twitter.com/chucktodd/status/260027262877974528

    votingmchnes.jpg

    Update - and of course the great Brad Friedman is on this, too: NBC News Election Expert Chuck Todd: Voting Machine Concerns are 'Conspiracy Garbage'.

    Update - I should have included this one: The Free Press, Will H.I.G.-owned e-voting machines give Romney the White House?

    Ohio's very Republican Secretary of State is John Husted, currently suing in the US Supreme Court to prevent the public from voting on the weekend prior to election day. As did Blackwell and Governor Robert Taft in 2004, Husted and Kasich will control Ohio's electronic vote count on election night free of meaningful public checks or balances

    Hart Intercivic, on whose machines the key votes will be cast in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, was taken over last year by H.I.G. Capital. Prominent partners and directors on the H.I.G. board hail from Bain Company or Bain Capital, both connected to Mitt Romney. H.I.G. employees have contributed at least $338,000 to Romney's campaign. H.I.G. Directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are major Romney fundraisers, as is former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at October 21, 2012 11:18 AM


    Comments


    This is the most critical article of the election. The far-right has made it clear that they will win this election WHATEVER IT TAKES-- The worst part is that it is EASY to hack this software, and there is NO tracking or storage of vote category (ex: paper printouts).

    BTW: I was a Computer Production Engineer for several years.

    "I don't care who received the most votes. I want that person who COUNTS the votes."--Joseph Stalin

    Posted by: liontame5 [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 24, 2012 10:47 AM

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