"The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men."
The Importance Of Voting Machines
Voting machines are one of the rare trifles of American politics: very few people care who makes them, who wrote the source code that interprets the vote, the technical skill involved in designing, manufacturing, and implementing voting machines, and so on and so forth.
Yet the real truth is, they are as essential to democracy as voting itself.
In this regard, it is important to note that there are very few makers of voting machines in the United States. They are all rather rich corporations, often delving into other, similar machines (i.e. ATMs, kiosks), and they frequently lobby Congress for contracts to produce new voting machines across America.
In the wake of the voting debacle that occurred in Florida in 2000, America has been pushing for an all-automated voting system. Without a paper trail, where is the accountability for your vote? Can you even say for sure whom you voted for? It is vital that we have accountability that our vote was accurately recorded and accurately tallied.
Who owns the voting machines?
For the most part, Election Systems & Software does (56% of all voting machines nationwide, and over 80% of those in the South.)
Why is this important? Because Election Systems & Software is primarily owned by two groups:
Prior to those two taking ownership, the ES&S was owned by the Ahmanson
family. This family is a noted supporter of the Christian reconstructist
movement, which states as its major goal turning tenets of the Bible
into national law.
Although the Ahmanson family sold their shares in ES&S to the McCarthy Group and OW-H, there is no reason to believe they are not still deeply involved with the business itself at managerial and executive levels.
Who is the McCarthy Group? It's a Nebraska company led by Mike McCarthy, a big businessman who is the Campaign Treasurer for current United States Senator Chuck Hagel, who used to serve as chairman of American Informations Systems in the early 80s before it changed its name to - you guessed it - Election Systems & Software!
Who else owns voting machines?
Diebold Election Systems runs approximately 20% of the voting machines nationwide. Its CEO is Bob Urosevich. Urosevich is more famous, however, for forming the voting systems company Data Mark (or I-Mark), which later changed its name to American Informations Systems - which became Election Systems & Software!
The real sad truth about this is - politics aside - that there is no public disclosure regarding any of this. There are no lists of who has active access to any of the software or hardware on any single voting machine in America. Americans aren't even allowed access to the software code which tabulates votes and operates the voting machine (it's considered proprietary.)
Is this a conflict of interest? Perhaps. Is manipulation a possibility? It only takes one, you know. Should you be concerned? Absolutely.
All of this information is available in a better-written, well-cited essay available at http://www.talion.com/election-machines.html.
"It's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting."