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A PRIVATE COMPANY COUNTS OUR VOTES
November 4, 2004
the polls closed in
in the day, as the Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry,
conceded defeat to George W. Bush, his 9th cousin and fellow Bonesman from
Yale's elite secret society, The Order of the Skull & Bones, he said:
"In America, it is vital that every vote count."
and Edwards, however, conceded defeat before some 170,000 - 250,000
provisional ballots from the state of
the public has been led to believe, the final tally came down to a near
50-50 split and it was the swing state of
how were the votes actually counted across the nation on November 2?
Election Day, voters in
as its known, calls itself "the world's largest and most
experienced provider of total election management solutions."
According to the company's own figures, 42 percent of all
registered voters in the
sells its "end-to-end election management suite of solutions" to
replace traditional voting methods and election officials with what it
calls "one-stop-shop full service election coordination from start to
this means on Election Day is that ES&S, a private company, manages
everything about the voting, from voter registration, the printing of
ballots, the programming of the voting machines, the counting and
tabulation of the votes, and the final reporting of the results for 60
million Americans in 47 states.
years after first revealing the flaws inherent in the insecure ES&S
electronic voting machines used in
Burnham, spokesman for the county clerk, had informed me that the vote
count is open to the public and that press credentials would not be
required. Shortly after
arriving, I ran into Burnham and David Orr, the county clerk, in the
I had arrived just shortly before the polls closed at 7 p.m., I was the
only member of the public or the press around except for a couple
Associated Press (AP) reporters in the far corner of the room.
They were busy setting up their laptop to the ES&S computer in
the backroom, which provided them with direct feed of the results.
was surprised to see so few people attending such an important event.
the results were coming in, the AP reporter read a novel while her laptop
did the communicating.
I went to talk to the AP reporter, Burnham quickly appeared and told me to
leave. "You should talk
to AP," he said.
is AP," I replied.
just works for AP," he said.
the subject of AP having direct data feed from the mainframe computer was
something Burnham did not want me to discuss.
Placko, a local reporter for the Fox News network, told AFP that "Fox
gets direct feed."
actual counting of the votes by citizens is very rare in the
I voted, every ballot that was fed into the ES&S machine registered as
an "undervote", as did mine.
than holding separate elections for national and local officials, as is
done in most countries, the
calling and personally visiting ES&S headquarters in
the company says it is the largest voting machine company in the
and Todd Urosevich started ES&S as a company called Data Mark in the
early 1980s. Today, Bob
Urosevich heads Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, a competitor of
ES&S and the second largest
the computerized ballot scanners and touch-screen voting machines systems
made by ES&S and Diebold recorded some 80 percent of all votes cast in
ES&S had no media relations person available and Todd Urosevich was
not willing to be interviewed, the company's chief financial officer Tom O'Brien
finally appeared. O'Brien,
clearly displeased with my visit and questions, refused to provide any
information about the company.
I was ill on Election Day, I knew I had to go to the county clerk's office
to observe counting of the vote. It
is, after all, the only counting open to the public.
What I saw in
only vote count the press or public can observe in
Zimmerman, technical supervisor for the clerk's office, said that the
computer that ran the system was in the back, "in the ES&S room,"
7 p.m., Jonathan Lin, a worker on the county clerk's computer staff, came
out and turned on the monitors on the 6th floor, where the City
seemed surprised when I asked him if he worked for ES&S.
He said that the company had about 6 engineers running the computer
in the back room. He then
checked himself, saying he had said too much.
I asked Lin who was actually operating the computer that was generating
the results being shown on the monitors. "ES&S is running the
mainframe for all of this," Lin said pointing to the television
the press room in the back I noticed stacks of boxes containing Votamatic
voting machines and pre-punched ballots printed by ES&S of
I poked around in the hallway and peeked into the ES&S room an armed
marshal and ES&S employee quickly appeared.
In no condition for a confrontation, I made myself scarce.
met a couple reporters from CLTV, a local cable channel of WGN. One of the
reporters asked about my interest in the
unaware of how ES&S operates elections in
uncomfortable with this discussion the reporter responded, I'm glad I'm