Author unknown but should be congratulated…
To the citizens of the United States of America,In the light of your failure to elect a President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the vocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will assume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new prime minister (The rt. hon. Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium”. Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels.Look up “vocabulary”.Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up “interspersed”.2. There is no such thing as “US English”. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents.It really isn’t that hard.4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys.5. You should relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.6. You should stop playing American “football”. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American “football” is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays “American” football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American”football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armor like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US rugby sevens side by 2005.7. You should declare war on Quebec and France,using nuclear weapons if they give you any merde. The 98.85% of you who were not aware that there is a world outside your borders should count yourselves lucky. The Russians have never been the bad guys. “Merde” is French for “shit”.8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 8th will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called “Indecisive Day”.9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.10. Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us crazy.Thank you for your cooperation.
Un-Known Source (Please Update Credit)
Who makes the vote-counting machines? This is an article about just three things: disclosure, conflict of interest and potential for manipulation. It is not a conspiracy theory or a political point of view. I think you’ll agree with me: We don’t care who wins the election, as long as it’s who was VOTED FOR. If we lose confidence in our voting system, it won’t matter what we think about any issue. Voting won’t matter. Democracy won’t matter. A lethal combination: Three nasty little guys that don’t belong anywhere near our voting system keep showing up at the polls. Their names are Nondisclosure, Conflict of Interest, and Potential for Manipulation. How credible is the information in this article? Click the links and you’ll find verification, often on the companies’ own web sites. Click footnotes and you’ll find sources and excerpts.
This section covers:
– Why we need to know who owns voting machine companies
– Who DOES own them?
Conflict of interest:
[NEW see PHOTOCOPIES – The Nebraska Problem]
This section covers:
– Why voting machine companies need to disclose conflict of interest
– Which owners have a conflict of interest?
Potential for manipulation:
This section covers:
– Can voting systems be manipulated?
– Examples of voting machines that got it wrong
Disclosure: Why we need to know who owns voting machine companies. The most basic process in democracy – voting – begins with the mechanism we use: the ballots, the machines that register the votes, and the computer code that counts the votes. ”
Democracy is more in the counting of the votes than the casting of them.” – Crispin Hull, Canberra Times, Australia
Just a handful of companies sell ballots, machines and program counting codes. They lobby, make campaign donations, and sometimes bribe government officials to choose their vote-counting systems (see sidebar at left). Understaffed election officials are required to make purchase decisions, then supervise the use of machines they can’t repair, can’t always check for accuracy, made by companies they know almost nothing about. Unfettered by any disclosure regulations about ownership or political affiliations, private individuals own the companies that control almost all the voting machines in America. Do the people who own them have conflicts of interest? We don’t know. Do they employ anyone with a criminal record? We don’t know. Because current vote-counting systems are not sufficiently protected from manipulation, and are getting less and less audit able, it is now very important to know who has access to the machines. There is no place for secrecy in our voting-counting system. Secret voting, yes. Secret vote-COUNTING, no – in fact, it’s unconstitutional. For some inexplicable reason, the U.S. is rushing to eliminate the only physical record of the mark made by each voter, going to straight touch-screens with no paper trail. Canada doesn’t allow this. Neither does Japan. Why are we so casually throwing away the only real audit trail that protects our vote? With touch-tone screens, we simply have no paper trail for millions of votes, with private, secret, and (according to computer security experts), insecure programming for vote-counting machines that invites tampering. It takes only ONE true believer with access to manipulate the counting code. Therefore, disclosure of ownership, flagging conflicts of interest, has become critical. The single largest group of people with access to voting machines are the technicians that work for the election machine companies. According to computer experts, a single programmer – or technician – has the potential to manipulate a system. Voting machine companies typically send technicians out to custom-program local machines. If the machines miscount, in most cases only technicians from the voting machine company can look at the code and diagnose the problem. Companies that make vote-counting machines should be required to disclose the names of significant owners, officers and executives along with any conflicts of interest, because they have such extensive access, and because manipulation is not difficult to do. Private companies can bid to do the lotteries. But they have to disclose who they are. Is it not true that VOTING, the basis of our entire democratic system, is as important as the lottery?
Who does own the voting machine companies?
A work in progress – I started with the biggest company, ES&S, which handles at least 56 percent of the vote counting in the U.S. For the other companies, I’ve got sketchy information, most of which comes from swapping research with reporter Lynn Landes. See her web site for more: http:www.ecotalk.org.
Election Systems & Software (ES&S)
– potential conflict of interest, see conflict section
Election Systems & Software operated under the name American Information Systems from its inception in the early 1980s until around 1998.
– It was founded by Todd and Bob Urosevich, originally under the name Data Mark.
– The Urosevich brothers obtained financing from the Ahmanson family, who took a 68 percent controlling interest.
The investment group related to the Ahmansons sold their shares in 1987 to the McCarthy Group (35%) and the World-Herald Company, Inc. (45%)
– Involved with the McCarthy Group: Michael R. McCarthy, Chairman [See McCarthy Conflicts – FEC document photocopy: McCarthy is designated Principle Campaign Committee of a Candidate]
– Senator Chuck Hagel: According to the Congressional Quarterly, Republican senator Chuck Hagel was Chairman of American Information Systems. [See Hagel Conflicts – Document photocopies for Senator Hagel; He lists the McCarthy Group as an asset, valuing his investment in McCarthy at up to $5 million, and omits mentioning that he was CEO and Chairman of the Board for the voting machine company, American Information Systems / ES&S.]
Omaha World-Herald Company:
Employees own approximately 80%. Of the 280 employees, only 28 currently own more than one-half of one percent. World-Herald employee stockholder maximum is 15%, so under the ownership rules, it is possible for just a few shareholders to hold significant sway in voting.
– Two of the 28 main shareholders (John Gottschalk and A. William Kernen) are on the Board of Directors for the Omaha World-Herald and ES&S. In 1995, both went public with an effort to reoganize the company so that they could concentrate less on the newspaper and more on other World Company investments. The reorganization was blocked in a lawsuit, which later settled.
– The Omaha World-Herald also owns: World Investments Inc., World Marketing Inc., World Events Inc., World Diversified Inc., World Newspapers Inc., MBS (a New York database marketing company), ACE Mailing Services (Atlanta, Georgia), Art & Technology (Omaha), Lee Marketing Services (Dallas, TX), World Technologies Inc. (Omaha), World Marketing Integrated Solutions, Total Fulfillment (Tempe AZ), The Rylander Company (Chicago IL), Redstone Communications (Omaha).
Other ES&S owners: In 1997-98 American Information Systems acquired Business Records Corp., a Texas-based election company originally called Cronus Industries. Twenty percent of the stock of the merged company was given to BRC owners. Among the owners of BRC/Cronus:
Caroline Hunt, of the Hunt Oil family, through her investment group (Rosewood Financial Partners)
Alex Sheshunoff, a financial data publisher
The late P.E. Esping, formerly of Omaha, founded First Data Merchant Services
Charter Oak Partners, an affiliate of Rothschild Realty Inc., which is an affiliate of Rothschild, Inc.
C.A. Rundell, CEO of Integrated Securities Systems, Inc., associated with Dallas-based Renaissance Capital Group Inc.: Renaissance U.S. Growth & Income Trust P.L.C., known as Rusgit, and Renaissance Three.
Ed Belanger president and CEO of CDS Technologies
Buttonwood Capital Corp – Bass brother billionaires, I think.
L.D. Brinkman Corp. Its Vice-President and General Counsel Thad R. Finley also worked for Hunt International Resources Corporation.
William D. Oates of InterPro
All this, but we still don’t know the names of the owners of ES&S. For all we know, Bugs Bunny is involved. Or an organized crime boss. Or the Ahmansons are still hanging around. Or Osama bin Laden. The point is, without disclosure we really have no idea who we are dealing with.
Diebold Election Systems/Global Election Systems:
In 2002 Diebold accquired Global Election Systems.
– CEO is Bob Urosevich, who founded ES&S.
– Howard Van Pelt and Larry Ensminger were with Global Election Systems, but are now with another voting machine company, Advanced Voting Systems, an offshoot of Shoup.
Accenture / Hart Intercivic:
Accenture was spun from Andersen Consulting in the wake of the Enron accounting scandal, and is now teaming up to go into the elections business.
Sequoia Voting Systems Inc.
Ownership: Eighty-five percent De La Rue, 15 percent Jefferson Smurfit Group; Smurfs are in the process of selling to Madison Dearborn Partners of Chicago.
– Sequoia bought Business Records Corporation’s optical scan vote tabulation business as part of a 1997 Dept. of Justice anti-trust action with ES&S – under a licensing agreement, both companies used the same equipment and software.
Conflict of interest:
Why voting machine companies need to disclose conflict of interest: I received a letter from ES&S attorneys that surprised me (the letter threatens all kinds of bad things if I don’t take this page down – I’ll be posting a photocopy of the letter, with rebuttals, shortly). The ES&S lawyers seem to think that discussing the issues of nondisclosure, conflict of interest, and potential manipulation of our voting system constitutes defamation because, by implication, writing about these subjects implies the specific crimes of voter manipulation and voter registration fraud. They are simply wrong: Talking about conflict of interest is not about alleging fraud. It is about conflict of interest. Conflict of interest involves motive and access, especially when security systems are weak. These are issues that are important to the public interest. Conflict of interest for voting machine owners and officers should include: Active political agendas, running for office, holding an elected office, accepting a position as a campaign official, (obviously) criminal activities; vested interests in ballot issues, or relationships that are too intertwined with other companies, squashing competition. Suppose Koch Industries (the billionaire private oil company who got caught by the FBI stealing oil from Native Americans in Oklahoma…) manufactured and programmed the voting machines your local election officials bought. Suppose a referendum came up: “Energy companies can drill for oil in your back yard, touch the YES or NO screen.” Do you really want the oil guys owning the voting machines? Or at least, if they do, wouldn’t it be best to require disclosure, easy-to-audit computer counting code, and a paper trail? And if the oil example doesn’t give you the willies, here’s another: Suppose you have (a) a voting machine manufacturer who is affiliated with organized crime (b) a high stakes gambling issue on the ballot. Obviously, a conflict of interest. And of course, you can’t detect this problem unless you get disclosure of owners and officers and their affiliations.
Voting machine owners with possible conflicts of interest:
Election Systems & Software (ES&S):
– 1. Company founded by: Brothers Todd and Bob Urosevich. The brothers now run competing election companies (Todd is with ES&S, Bob is with Global Election Systems, now part of Diebold.) Together, these two companies count about two-thirds of the votes in America. Think of it like this: Suppose Bill Gates owns Microsoft and his brother Bob Gates owns Apple. (Hypothetical brother.)
– 2. Vested interests: ES&S was given its grubstake (while operating under the name American Information Systems) in 1984 when the billionaire Ahmanson family injected enough cash to get ahold of a 68 percent ownership. (2) This wealthy family has been instrumental in making the Republican Party take a hard right turn – pouring money into conservative Christian candidates and right-wing agendas.(3)
They were instrumental in getting at least 24 conservatives into the California legislature; launching prop. 209, California’s successful anti-affirmative action law; financing Prop. 22, California’s effort to ban gay marriages; financing efforts to remove evolution from school curriculi; and financing the Chalcedon Institute, which reportedly believes in the death penalty for homosexuality and other “sins.” The Ahmansons are heirs to the Home Savings of America fortune, which was the largest savings and loan association in the world during the rollicking 1980s (while the S&L scandals were taking place.) Howard Ahmanson is a major benefactor of the Christian reconstructionist movement, whose followers wish to turn certain tenets of the Bible into national law.
– 3. Skating too close to criminal prosecutions and kickbacks…02/05/2002, The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that Arkansas Secretary of State Bill McCuen pleaded guilty to felony charges that he took bribes, evaded taxes and accepted kickbacks. Part of the charges related to election systems. Tom Eschberger, who became a Vice President for ES&S, took an immunity deal and testified against McCuen.
And in Florida, Jeb Bush’s first choice as running mate in 1998 was Sandra Mortham. According to the Tallahasee Democrat (10/6/2002) Mortham, was a paid lobbyist for ES&S and received a commission for every county that bought its touch-screen machines. Mortham says there was nothing improper about the deals, but Broward County Commissioner Ben Graber disagreed, alleging conflict of interest. And let’s look at Alex Sheshunoff, from the BRC merger: He was sued by the SEC for manipulating the stock price of BRC using a technique called “marking the close.” The web address of the SEC filing against Sheshunoff is http://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/3437419.txt
The Nebraska Problem
– 4. The Nebraska Problem: Look at the documents, see the loop: ES&S, according to the Nebraska Elections Division, is the ONLY vote-counting company certified to sell machines in Nebraska. ES&S counts 80 percent of the votes; the remaining 20 percent are hand counts.
ES&S is owned by the McCarthy Group; Michael McCarthy runs the McCarthy Group; Michael McCarthy is the Campaign Treasurer for Republican Senator Chuck Hagel; The FEC designates Michael McCarthy as a Primary Campaign Committee for Candidate Chuck Hagel; and Chuck Hagel’s financials list the McCarthy Group as an Asset, with his investment valued at $1-$5 million.
Four documents are shown below, with links so you can authenticate them yourself:
McCarthy is designated Primary Campaign Committee for a Candidate
– 5. The Nebraska Problem: Republican Senator Hagel was Chairman and CEO of American Information Systems (now called ES&S); And, Hagel was CEO and a partner in McCarthy & Company.(6)
According to his financial filings, Hagel’s investments with the McCarthy Group are still between $1 million and $5 million. Hagel’s largest single investment appears to be in the McCarthy Group, who owns a large chunk of ES&S, the firm responsible for counting Hagel’s own votes.
Hagel investment in McCarthy Group
Hagel came to Omaha from Washington D.C., where he worked with the first George Bush Administration. In news articles by the Omaha World-Herald, Hagel said he was coming to Omaha to become president and partner in the McCarthy Group and Chairman of American Information Systems. In his congressional bio he is said to have come to Omaha “to prepare for running for office.” The first thing he did was run American Information Systems, a vote-counting company. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Nebraska senatorial campaign. He continues to disclose an investment of $1-5 million in the McCarthy Group, but he does not identify the underlying assets (ES&S). His disclosure documents omit any mention of American Information Systems at all.
– 6. John Gottschalk has been reported as a director for both the World-Herald Company Inc. (concentrating on the non-newspaper subsidiaries) and ES&S. He was also involved with Senator Hagel in the World USO, has relationships with James Baker; he is listed as a USO pal of George W. Bush.
– 7. The World-Herald Company, Inc. has a newspaper and, among all their other operations, a nationwide communications network with databases containing personal information on almost everyone in the USA, large direct mailing firms, phone message broadcasting, fax blasting, mass e-mailing, publicity, advertising, Internet services, printing, as well as elections services – and voter registration services(7). The World Companies have operations in Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Nebraska, California, Iowa and Arizona – and almost all of the companies listed above have nothing to do with newspapers. The concern here relates to access to these operations, which are sometimes used for political marketing, in combination with ES&S, which does voter registration services. It would be a conflict of interest for a voter registration program to have access these database and marketing capabilities IF political vested interests were involved. Because we don’t have full disclosure – we don’t know what percentage of stock the major World-Herald stockholders have, or which ones they are, and because we don’t know if these companies are wholly owned subsidiaries or partnerships, it is hard to judge conflict of interest on this.
Potential for manipulation – Can voting systems can be manipulated?
Experts say yes, and it’s getting worse! Did you know…
– That even when we use paper ballots, most states forbid even their election officials from looking at them? The ballots are removed from the counting machine and sealed in a box; only the number on the counter is used to tally the votes. Even recounts often don’t involve looking at the ballots themselves (unless a hand recount is ordered). Yes, it’s true. The most progressive states do a spot check with a hand count of 1 percent of the votes. One percent is inadequate! But most states don’t even require anyone to look at the paper ballots at all.
– That the public cannot send in its own computer guy to audit the code? Yes, it’s true: in most cases, election officials have to ask the company that provided the machines to troubleshoot problems. The voting machine companies went to court to have their counting code declared “proprietary” so no one can look at it. Computer experts who have analyzed the code say it is “spaghetti code” that is almost indecipherable.
– That there are standards for computer software programming, that make the code easy to audit, and even spot changes in the programming, and better yet, even provide a history of all the coding done? These are industry-wide standards that voting companies should use, but they don’t.
– That it only takes ONE “true believer” to compromise a voting system? It could be anyone who gets access. There are many ways to do this. Implant a Trojan Horse that, as soon as a particular vote passes a “tipping point” will start throwing votes the other way; or, stick the mischief into the message (when the modem transmits a certain result, the receiving computer sends data back to change the database). For even more fun, a good programmer can have the code erase itself as soon as it does its work. Or, you can have the program perform random “errors” scattered across a system.
– That a touch screen that registers Democrat when you press Democrat doesn’t have to count your vote as democrat. What you see on the screen involves a different process that how the machine counts the vote.
Can these things be tampered with? If you have any doubt, read this: article by Ronnie Dugger, who will show you how easy it is for a single individual with access to fudge the vote-counting on these machines, in ways that can never be detected. (See sidebar 2 for more information on misprogramming the machines.) Poll workers count the votes, not election machines, right? Wrong. The machines count the votes. Surely there are SOME controls? ES&S, for example, sends a prototype to Wyle Laboratories for an integrity check – but there is no way to know whether the code used on the actual voting machines is identical (or even remotely similar) to that on the prototype. Some states require that the machines pass tests prior to certification, but there is no system to verify that the machines being used have identical code. Some states require the master code to be on file in “escrow,” but no one checks to see that the code held in escrow is identical to that used on the machines. Added to this, technicians go out and customize programming locally. And voting machine companies don’t just count the votes – they also print the ballots and help with voter registration. On the 31 Election Errors page you’ll see many examples of misprinted ballots that can affect election outcomes. Things like jumbling the words, but only on the Spanish-speaking ballots. Or having chads that absolutely won’t dislodge, but only for the Democratic and Libertarian candidates. Might it be a bit reckless for Democracy to hand voter registration assignments over to a firm secretly owned by, say, a right-wing conservative activist (or any political zealot, for that matter) if the company also has access to databases containing the race and political preferences of almost everyone in the USA?
Six Ways to Fix Pesky Votes
- Scrub the lists too clean: if Andersen commits a felony, Anderson loses his vote.
- Hire a firm to check voter eligibility, pay them 27 cents a name instead of the going rate (2.7 cents a name). When they contract to verify accuracy for people they remove, write them a friendly note: “DON’T NEED.”
- “Reform” the flawed voting system by purchasing millions of dollars in new, automated voting machines. Order them from a private company in Omaha that refuses to divulge who its owners are, or reveal their political connections.
- Don’t do any big stuff (switching 5,000 Dem votes to Republican). Do little things. Lots of them. Diversify.
- Choose methods that will be boring or hard to understand.
- Make sure people have to use math or statistics to see what you did. (Raise your hands: Who loves math?)
And if you want specifics of what happened in Florida, where over 50,000 votes disappeared in election 2000, start running google searches on Greg Palast’s articles, aired on BBC and printed in the Guardian, and belatedly, picked up by major media outlets in the USA like the Washington Post. Examples of voting machines that got it wrong: 31 mistakes. The Dallas Morning News reported this on 10/24/2002: “Eighteen of more than 400 electronic voting machines were pulled out of service after early voting began Monday. Some voters complained that they selected one candidate but that the touch-screen machine marked a different candidate.” When there are errors in vote-counting, the explanations sometimes don’t make sense. For example, in the October 2002 problem in Dallas, where paperless, unauditable touch-tone screens were used and voters reported that the machines were registering votes for Democrats as votes for the Republican candidate, the explanations by county elections commissioner Bruce Sherbet transmits a ping to the bullshit meter of computer software guys: “[Sherbet] said technicians were able to ‘recalibrate 15 of the 18 machines taken out of service and return them to use.’ The other three were replaced, he said. ‘Every election, we have machines that have to be recalibrated, Mr. Sherbet said. ‘Touch-screens have pluses and minuses.'” The software engineers I’ve talked with say there is no such thing as “calibrating” software. And then there’s this: “‘The problem can occur after the machines are moved and locked up each night,’ he [Sherbet] said. ‘Pixels on the machines’ screens get misaligned during jostling and do not properly read voters’ selections. However, technicians can realign them within minutes,’ Mr. Sherbet said. He said he’s not inclined to scrap the electronic ballots. “‘All large counties are going to electronic voting,’ Mr. Sherbet said.” On more than one occasion, the news articles reporting the problem quote voting officials saying that the miscounting was due to a “long ballot with many questions.” But did you know…that the original vote-counting programs were derived from scholastic testing (You know, answer a thousand questions with five choices each, using a number two pencil.) Knowing this, you can see that even if a ballot had 30 things to vote on, with two answers each, that can hardly compare to the complexity of tabulating a thousand questions with five answers each. Yet, scholastic testing is highly accurate and quite consistent Why the Sam Hill are we in such a hurry to eliminate paper trails? In Florida when votes were lost, election workers had to retrieve the hard drive as a back-up, because there were no paper ballots. In Dallas, we just have to take someone’s word that a computer screen that registers Republican when we push Democrat actually counted our vote correctly. In California, thousands of votes just disappeared due to a computer glitch. Even the tax guys insist on a paper trail. (Just try telling an IRS auditor that your computer ate it.)
About the Author
Bev Harris owns Talion.com, a publicity firm, and has been a professional writer for 10 years. She is the author of “How to Unbezzle a Fortune”, a free online report with tips on how to identify accounting fraud and recover embezzled funds, a report that has become an underground hit among business owners who have been victimized. She began researching voting machine companies when she discovered that unauditable private, proprietary codes are used for vote-counting, and that ownership of these companies is also not disclosed – a situation that invites conflict of interest and abuse.
Footnotes: Sources and links to more information
1 The largest vote-counting company in the USA: Election Systems & Software, formerly American Information Systems. Source: Omaha World-Herald, “Omaha Ballot Company to Buy Dallas Competitor” by STEVE JORDON 11/22/1996 …”An Omaha company would become the nation’s No. 1 ballot counter in a planned $59.3 million combination with a Dallas-based competitor…American Information’s share of the U.S. election automation market would increase to more than 50 percent from the current 15 percent…” and Source: Omaha World-Herald, “Election Firms’ Deal Approved” by STEVE JORDON 11/20/1997 … “Under a new agreement, American Information Systems and the former BRC division will be known as Election Systems & Software”
2 …given its grubstake in 1984 when the multi-millionaire Ahmanson family injected enough cash to get ahold of a 68 percent ownership. Omaha World-Herald “Election Year Boosts Fortunes of Omaha Firm” by Howard Silber & Denise Tatum, 02/28/1984 … “[Bob] Urosevich, who had founded his own company, called Data Mark, ended his business relationship with Westinghouse in 1979. With the help of Jim Lane, a computer expert who had moved from Westinghouse to Data Mark, the company designed a machine that linked a scanner with the type of microchips that are now used in products ranging from $5 pocket calculators to highly sophisticated computers. Company Name Changed: Urosevich took the plans to a family friend with Omaha roots – California millionaire William Ahmanson, chairman and chief executive officer of the H.F. Ahmanson Co., holding company for the nation’s largest savings and loan association and a group of Omaha-based insurance companies. ‘We needed growth money, and I felt Bill might be interested,’ Urosevich said. ‘He was.’ William Ahmanson and his brother, Robert, invested in the company – they now own 68 percent of the stock and serve as directors – and the name was changed to American Information Systems. Lane is vice president and Todd Urosevich, the president’s brother, is secretary-treasurer.” [NOTE: The Omaha World-Herald article mentioned in 1 above, titled “Omaha Ballot Company to Buy Dallas Competitor” says “American Information was founded in 1980.” This appears to be referring to Data Mark, which was founded around 1980 and became American Information Systems. Read differently, the Ahmanson brothers might have invested in 1980, changing the name in 1980.]
3 …[Ahmanson family has been] instrumental in making the Republican Party take a hard right turn – pouring money into conservative Christian candidates and right-wing agendas.
Footnote 3: Source 1 – San Francisco Examiner “Conservative group gears up for 2000 vote in California” by Zachary Coile 08/04/1999 …”four donors, all major backers of right-wing Christian causes who together form one of the state’s most powerful and conservative political action committees, the California Independent Business PAC…The same group, under a different PAC name, was instrumental in helping elect two dozen conservatives to the Legislature in 1994. The group is led by Howard Ahmanson, heir to the Home Savings & Loan fortune, who now dispenses millions in charitable and political donations through his Irvine-based Fieldstead & Co…Ahmanson is also a benefactor of the Christian reconstructionist movement, whose followers wish to turn certain tenets of the Bible into national law, according to Jerry Sloan, a former minister who heads Project Tocsin, a nonprofit group that tracks the religious right…In 1994, 24 of the 34 Republican legislative candidates backed by the group won.”
Footnote 3: Source 2 – San Francisco Examiner “5 multimillionaires bend state politics to the right Goal is to take control of both Assembly, Senate” by Erin McCormick 11/01/1998…”Five rich but obscure Orange County businessmen, all with conservative philosophies and fundamentalist religious connections, have joined to become California’s most generous campaign donors in an attempt to turn state politics hard right. Their political action committee, Allied Business PAC, has poured $4 million into state Assembly and Senate campaigns since 1992. ..The results these businessmen have gotten are noteworthy: They’ve helped put more than 30 new conservative candidates in the legislature, gotten one of the group’s founders, Rob Hurtt, elected to the state Senate and shifted the boundaries of the state’s political spectrum markedly to the right..key donor to the PAC has been Howard Ahmanson, who inherited the Home Savings & Loan fortune…”
Footnote 3: Source 3 – Comparative Literature “Performing virtual whiteness: The psychic fantasy of globalization” by Linda Kintz 10/01/2001 … “Howard Ahmanson, a savings and loan heir long involved with Christian Reconstructionisn, a faction of the Religious Right at its most extreme. Identified with Rousas J. Rushdooney’s Chalcedon Foundation, Christian Reconstructionism takes the extreme view that conservative Christians should take “dominion” over U.S. society and replace democracy with theocracy The Ahmanson family donated $1.5 million to the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture’s research and publicity program to “unseat not just Darwinism but also Darwinism’s cultural legacy”
Footnote 3: Source 4 – Reason Magazine November 1988 “Getting Cozy with Theocrats” by Walter Olson…Christian Reconstructionism…Among Reconstructionism’s highlights, the article cited support for laws “mandating the death penalty for homosexuals and drunkards.” The Rev. Rushdoony fired off a letter to the editor complaining that the article had got his followers’ views all wrong: They didn’t intend to put drunkards to death. Ah, yes, accuracy does count. In a world run by Rushdoony followers, sots would escape capital punishment–which would make them happy exceptions indeed. Those who would face execution include not only gays but a very long list of others: blasphemers, heretics, apostate Christians, people who cursed or struck their parents, females guilty of ‘unchastity before marriage,’ ‘incorrigible’ juvenile delinquents, adulterers, and (probably) telephone psychics. And that’s to say nothing of murderers and those guilty of raping married women or ‘betrothed virgins.’
“…Mainstream outlets like the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post are finally starting to take note of the influence Rushdoony and his followers have exerted for years in American conservative circles…Prominent California philanthropist Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., who has given Rushdoony’s operations [The Chalcedon Institute] more than $700,000 over the years…”
Footnote 3: Source 5 – Los Angeles Times “Enlisting Science to Find the Fingerprints of a Creator Education: Believers in ‘intelligent design’ try to redirect evolution disputes along intellectual lines” by TERESA WATANABE 03/25/2001 …”Primarily funded by evangelical Christians–particularly the wealthy Ahmanson family of Irvine–the [Discovery] institute’s $1-million annual program has produced 25 books, a stream of conferences and more than 100 fellowships for doctoral and postdoctoral research. Fieldstead & Co., which is owned by Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, has pledged $2.8 million through 2003″
Footnote 3: Source 6 – Los Angeles Times “CAMPAIGN 2000 PROPOSITION 22 Ban on Gay Marriages Wins in All Regions but Bay Area” by JENIFER WARREN 03/08/2000…”Over the last several years, 30 states have passed preemptive laws similar to Proposition 22. Knight says he took up the cause because he believes that if gays are allowed to say “I do,” it will weaken the institution of marriage. In placing the proposition on the ballot, he received financial help from conservative Christian businessman Howard Ahmanson, a former trustee of an organization whose founder advocates the death penalty for homosexuality. Initiative opponents argued that the connection with such a controversial figure amounted to proof that Proposition 22 backers had a hidden motive–rolling back legal protections for gays.”
Footnote 3: Source 7 – Emerge “Affirmative Action Wars” by Trevor W. Coleman 03/31/1998 …”Yes on Proposition 209 [to eliminate affirmative action], significantly outpaced in fund-raising its main opponent…Large contributors made a big difference…Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., heir to the Home Savings of American fortune, contributed $350,000 through his Irvine, California based Fieldstead & Co.
Footnote 3: Source 8 – Sunday Mail “Zzzouter launches a `moral crusade'” 06/04/2000 …”a fundamentalist Christian more in the mould of US multi-millionaire Howard Ahmanson Jr, who uses his fortune to promote so-called traditional family values…By waving fortunes under their noses, Ahmanson has the ability to cajole candidates into backing his right-wing Christian agenda.”
Footnote 3: Source 9 – Los Angeles Times “Religious Right Stepping Up to Political Pulpit” by MATT LAIT; GEBE MARTINEZ 07/10/1996 … Ten years ago, they were widely dismissed as a political fringe group. Today, conservative Christians are a driving force in the local GOP, helping to set the party’s platform and raising millions of dollars to get their candidates elected. Money linked to religious conservatives from Orange County bankrolled the successful campaigns of dozens of legislative candidates over the last five years, giving Republicans long-sought control of the Assembly…The most influential figures in the local and state GOP are Garden Grove businessman Rob Hurtt, now the Republican leader in the state Senate, and banking heir Howard F. Ahmanson Jr. Individually and through political action committees they created, Hurtt and Ahmanson have used their fortunes to back candidates and legislation representing their Christian values. ..”
Footnote 3: Source 10 – Los Angeles Times “Rich Source of GOP Funds” by GEBE MARTINEZ; ERIC BAILEY 07/10/1996…”To Republican politicians nationwide, Orange County’s image is of a sprawling money tree, sagging with riches to be spent on the Grand Old Party. The image is no myth…The new big players are two ultraconservative Orange County businessmen drawn to politics by their religious beliefs: Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Jr., the scion of a savings and loan fortune, and Sen. Rob Hurtt of Garden Grove, the Republican leader of the state Senate.
“Hurtt, Ahmanson and a political action committee they co-founded with two other Southern California businessmen helped fund the campaigns of nearly two-thirds of the Republicans in the Assembly, and almost half of those in the Senate. “The reason why we [Republicans] took over the Assembly was because of them,” said William Buck Johns III, a member of the conservative Lincoln Club, another top contributor to state and local campaigns… During the first half of this decade, Ahmanson and Hurtt donated at least $7.1 million to local and state political causes. Their partners in what was originally called the Allied Business PAC–now known as the California Independent Business PAC–plowed another $1.4 million into state and local political campaigns over the same period. ..”Their influence on the Republican Party, I think, has been smashing,” said Jerry Sloan, president of Project Tocsin, a group that monitors the religious right. ‘They have literally taken over the party.’
“Ruth Holton of California Common Cause said the contributions by Hurtt and Ahmanson reflect what is wrong with California’s political process. Currently, there are no limits to the amounts an individual or political action committee can contribute to candidates in California, one of only seven states that do not impose caps on campaign contributions…Ahmanson is also the largest single donor to the Chalcedon Foundation, a small religious sect that advocates reconstructing society in accord with biblical tenets.”
Footnote 3: Source 11 – The Orange County Register “A political action committee allegedly spurred the move to put a spoiler in the 67th District recall” by KIM CHRISTENSEN; JEAN O. PASCO; DAVID PARRISH; JOHN McDONALD 03/28/1996…”A threatened loss of funds from a powerful political action committee triggered the election dirty tricks that led to the indictment of Republican Assemblyman Scott Baugh, a campaign worker told the Orange County grand jury. Richard Martin, who along with two other GOP aides has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the political scandal, said he was told that the executive director of California Independent Business PAC exerted pressure to place Democrats on the ballot to dilute the vote and ensure a Republican win in last November’s 67th Assembly District recall election.”
4 …Election Systems & Software, the firm whose machines were involved in the 2002 flubbed Florida primary election…
Footnote 4 Source 1 & 2: PR Newswire, 01/30/2002 Election Systems & Software Captures Largest Election Contract in U.S. History by R. Jeffrey Berg, Director Corporate Marketing of Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S)…”The 918,000 registered voters of Miami-Dade County are certainly the winners today,” stated Aldo Tesi, ES&S president and CEO. “In selecting the ES&S iVotronic Touch Screen system, they are acquiring the most technologically advanced voting solution now available in the world.” – and – PR Newswire, 12/12/2001 Election Systems & Software Wins Broward County Florida by R. Jeffrey Berg, Director Corporate Marketing of ES&S…”We are very excited to have been selected by Broward County as their vendor of choice,” stated Aldo Tesi, ES&S president and CEO. “The world of elections is undergoing dramatic change, and ES&S is leading the modernization of election systems not only in Florida but worldwide.”
5 at least one major shareholder is Michael R. McCarthy…Michael R. McCarthy is the current campaign Treasurer for Republican senator Chuck Hagel.
Footnote 5 Source 1: McCarthy Group official web site.
Footnote 5 Source 2: Hagel and McCarthy Documents
6 …Prior to his election, Republican Senator Hagel was CEO of American Information Systems and a partner in the McCarthy & Company.
Footnote 6 Source 1: Senator Hagel Official Web Site…”Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Hagel worked in the private sector as the President of McCarthy & Company, an investment banking firm based in Omaha, Nebraska.”
Footnote 6 Source 2: Congressional Quarterly profile of Chuck Hagel…”President, McCarthy and Co., investment banking firm, Omaha, NE, 1992-96…Board of Directors: American Information Systems, Inc.”
Footnote 6 Source 3: Roll Call report Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) [net worth] $4 million; A Vietnam veteran who made millions in the cellular telephone business [Vanguard], Hagel has multimillion-dollar investment portfolios handled by Merrill Lynch and the McCarthy Group Asset management. According to his filings, his investments with the McCarthy group alone exceed $2.7 million; He also owns more than $100,000 worth of stock in Iron Road Railway and is owed between $250,000 and $500,000 in funds he lent his campaign committee.
Footnote 6 Source 3: The Omaha World-Herald 06/03/1994 “Welsh Named Top Executive, Board Member” by Steve Jordan…Chairman of American Information is Chuck Hagel, who also is a partner in McCarthy & Co., an Omaha investment firm. The World-Herald Co. owns about 45 percent of American Information and McCarthy & Co. owns about 35 percent, with senior managers owning the rest, Hagel said.[OUR NOTE: World-Herald also owns part of McCarthy]…Hagel said he had been acting as chief executive officer of American Information since November, when Bob Urosevich, one of the company’s founders, resigned…Hagel said Urosevich’s departure “was just a mutual agreement. The board and Bob felt that the time was right for a change in leadership.” Two other co-founders remain with the company: Todd Urosevich, Bob’s brother, as vice president and director, and Jim Lane as director and paid consultant.
7 …voter registration services
Footnote 7 source 1: Election Systems & Software, Inc. from PR Newswire, 09/19/2002…”ES&S hardware and software solutions support the entire election process to include voter registration, ballot production, voting, vote tabulation, and results reporting.”
Footnote 7 source 2 & 3: San Antonio Express-News, 08/28/2002 “COUNTY APPROVES COMPUTER VOTE DEAL” by Tom Bower…”When commissioners chose ES&S from among five proposals last April, they asked if the system could be in place in time for early voting in the upcoming Nov. 5 general election and were told yes…The system also includes 440 printers, for printing out mail-in paper ballots, as well as computer-based voter registration and ballot tabulation systems” – and – Omaha World-Herald 04/30/2002 “Election Systems wins Texas county contract” by Daniel P. Finney…”Election Systems and Software of Omaha has signed a $7.7 million contract with Bexar County, Texas, to provide election equipment. Bexar County, which includes the San Antonio metro area, has more than 825,000 registered voters. ES&S will provide 2,100 touch-screen electronic voting machines that will replace the county’s paper ballots. The company also will provide Bexar with electronic voter-registration…”
12 …Ownership in Election Systems & Software
Footnote 12 Source 1: Election Systems & Software official web site – “William F. Welsh II, Chairman…* Managed the merger of American Information Systems (AIS) and the election division of BRC Holding [Business Records Corp]. Structured the newly formed ES&S. Three years as President and CEO of AIS. Six years as President and CEO of Valmont Industries.”
Footnote 12 Source 2:Omaha World-Herald 06/03/1994 “Welsh Named Top Executive, Board Member” by Steve Jordan…”William F. Welsh II, former top executive of Valmont Industries Inc., became chief executive officer of American Information Systems Inc., an Omaha-based election services company, Thursday. Welsh also joined American Information’s board and became a major shareholder in the company, which had sales of about $10 million last year. …Welsh declined to say how much of American Information he owns, saying the company is privately held.”