POLITICS

South Carolina’s Secretary of State didn’t know banned machines counted votes

COLUMBIA, SC – In his “unofficial” reaction to U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge’s claim that South Carolina purchased “awful” electronic voting equipment Ohio was dumping, Secretary of State Mark Hammond inserted words she didn’t use when he said the state didn’t buy “decertified” Ohio equipment.   His words are also concerning since the South Carolina Elections Commission recently accepted bids from vendors to replace its current inventory of security-flawed electronic voting equipment the state purchased from Elections Solutions & Software (ES&S) in 2003; and installed in the state’s 46 counties between 2004 and 2005. 

Ex.New Hampshire Governor John Sununu pitched the electronic voting equipment Walden O’Dell was selling from Canton, Ohio to officials in states like South Carolina, Georgia and Florida during the early 2000’s. One of the “team” members was Anthony Celebreeze, Jr., Ohio’s former secretary of state.

The relationship between Global Election Systems. Diebold, Premier Election Solutions and ES&S is convoluted.   Robert and Todd Urosevich are brothers who have been partners and competitors.  They were both involved in Global Election Systems during its beginnings.  Robert cut a deal with Diebold to sell electronic voting equipment through Premier Election Solutions.  Todd Urosevich is identified as a “beneficial owner” and “executive officer” in an ES&S Notice of Sale of Securities with the Securities & Exchange Commission in 2008.

Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu was one of the Diebold agents asking officials in states like South Carolina, Florida and Georgia to buy the Canton, Ohio corporation’s electronic voting equipment before the 2004 election its chairman had promised Ohio to George W. Bush.   In  a 2003 fundraising letter, Walden O’Dell was promising the state to Bush at the same time he was leading a team of sales agents to bribe Russian government officials from their Moscow office that another Ohioan, former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach, would investigate in 2013 for the SEC as a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 

Ex-Diebold Chairman Walden O’Dell and John Sununu worked together selling electronic voting equipment while he flew back and forth between Canton and Moscow.

Not being from Canton, Ohio when Diebold chairman O’Dell and Robert Urosevich were building an elections division for the Ohio corporation, Hammond wouldn’t know the nuances of the local relationships that Fudge knew.  But the AccuvoteTS voting equipment South Carolina has been using to count its 46 county’s votes since 2004 and 2005 was sold to the state by Todd Urosevich’s ES&S at the time his brother Robert Urosevich’s Global Elections Systems was partnering with Diebold of Ohio and building Premier Election Solutions.   

Todd Urosevich’s ES&S would later purchase the company his brother built with Diebold. 

Ohioans would know the ES&S purchase of Premier Election Solutions led President Barack Obama’s U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and seek a March 8, 2009 federal court  “Competitive Impact Statement” requiring ES&S to divest itself from Premier.  Hammond’s “unknowing” rebuttal is an indication he didn’t read the following words from the federal judge. 

“ES&S’s acquisition of Premier combined two firms that many customers considered the two closest competitors in the provision of voting equipment systems, and the two largest providers of U.S. voting equipment systems, substantially reducing competition for the provision of voting equipment systems in the United States.  As a result of ES&S’s acquisition of its closest competitor, ES&S has a reduced incentive both to compete as aggressively for bids and to invest in new products, thereby increasing the price and reducing the quality of the voting equipment systems available to most jurisdictions.”

Former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner thought Diebold’s AccuvoteTS was more than awful when she asked Ohio’s attorney general to sue the Ohio corporation in 2008 after the release of her 2007 EVEREST report about AccuvoteTS’s security flaws.  EVEREST was the acronym for “Evaluation & Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards and Testing” conducted for Brunner by Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and WebWise Security, Inc.

Former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner asked two universities and a security technology company to evaluate the same electronic voting equipment South Carolina was using and learned of serious security flaws with it.

Hammond as South Carolina’s secretary of state doesn’t manage elections or the electronic voting equipment that counts votes like other state secretaries.  He doesn’t speak for or control the South Carolina Elections Commission that does manage the state’s elections; so his response to Fudge was not “official” or on behalf of the state though it “appeared” to be deceptively knowledgeable.    

But Ohioans with political insights like Fudge knew both Urosevich’s were either a team or “anti-trust” competitors connected to Global, Diebold, Premier Elections Solutions (aka Diebold before ES&S bought it) and ES&S; and that the “awful” equipment they sold between their two companies was miscounting votes in her state and  Congressional district’s campaigns.   

The idea that Mahoning County became the first in the nation to test Robert Urosevich’s electronic vote counting software would be lost on Hammond; but not on Ohioan’s who’d know the area’s strong mafia history.  Urosevich’s AccuvoteTS was used for the first time ever in the November 7, 2000 elections in Mahoning County six years after an unsuccessful mafia hit on Prosecuting Attorney Paul Gains at his home in 1994 when wars between federal prosecutors and organized crime figures were subsiding. 

Michael Sciortino is the now-convicted Mahoning County Auditor who worked as deputy director for the next door Trumbull County Board of Elections while officials were entertaining electronic voting equipment bids.  Both counties were bastions of organized crime activity between the New York, Chicago and Kansas City crime families. 

The initial round of Trumbull county’s election equipment responses to bids were tossed and rebid after Sciortino and other officials were accused of favoring ES&S in 2003.  Sciortino was convicted of bribery in 2016.  Ohio’s Supreme Court stripped him of his law license in 2018.

Former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach investigted Diebold for the SEC after federal authorities learned the Canton, Ohio corporation was bribing Russian government officials from its Moscow office.

In Cleveland, ES&S’s sales rep was discovered in 2003 to be dating the deputy director of Cuyahoga County’s elections board.  That same year an ES&S lobbyist, the late Arnold Pinkney, sought to win a $20 million elections board contract to create bid specs and manage the county’s purchase of the equipment without disclosing his “lobbying” relationship to the company.  His bid was rejected after the relationship was revealed by the Cleveland Challenger newspaper.

Former Republican Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was also discovered by State Rep. Rex Damschroder to have owned over $50,000 in Diebold shares of stock while he was ordering some of the state’s 88 counties to buy its equipment.

In her affidavit, after Brunner filed a civil claim against Diebold, former Cuyahoga County Board of Elections director Jane Platten described the experiences with the electronic voting technologies both Urosevich’s were marketing so states like South Carolina as “miserable.”

“… during the November 6, 2007 election, the Board of Elections experienced numerous problems with the DRE system, including repeated election night server crashes that forced a system shutdown during the vote tabulation in an election that saw less than 20% of the registered voters vote.

“… In addition, numerous memory cards utilized to record votes cast at the polling locations registered no data when tabulated at the Board of Election’s central tabulations center on Election night, thereby necessitating the laborious process of retrieving the corresponding TSX machines, “reburning” such memory cards from the flash memory contained in the TSX devices, and uploading them again.”

California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley in 2004, one who unlike Hammond actually managed the state’s elections, decertified and banned the AccuvoteTS after an extensive investigation of the security flaws connected to all of the equipment electronic voting suppliers were selling; and that was being installed at the same time in South Carolina to count votes from its elections.

It’s a short 15 minute walk from Diebold’s Moscow office to the KGB’s headquarters under the FSB.

California’s “security analysis” of the AccuVote-TSX (AV-TSX) DRE, the AccuVote-OS (AV-OS) optical scanner, and the GEMS election management system concluded that the same software California and Ohio officials wanted to dump for its inability to provide trustworthy elections was being purchased by South Carolina officials to count votes.

“The software contains serious design flaws that have led directly to specific vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit to affect election outcomes.  These vulnerabilities include vulnerability to malicious software; susceptibility to viruses; failure to protect ballot secrecy; vulnerability to malicious insiders,” the California report concluded about the equipment Sununu was pushing South Carolina to install in its 46 counties throughout 2004 and 2005. 

As O’Dell promised Bush in-between the Diebold chairman’s travels from Canton, Ohio and the corporation’s Moscow offices 15 minutes from the KGB, the state was delivered to his presidential candidate using the same Accuvote-TS to count votes in Ohio that South Carolina’s officials were buying and now want to “update.”   It’s the same equipment South Carolina officials used in 2016 to count Donald Trump’s votes for president. 

O’Dell was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for bribing Russian Federation officials; but there’s no evidence the Ohio corporation’s former chairman was investigated by Russian federal agents for bribing that foreign government’s officials.  Diebold in Moscow is represented by Jones Day from its Moscow office.

Russia’s attorney – client privileges are different in that it exists only during “advocacy” proceedings.  Otherwise, the Russian Federation can enter the offices of a foreign corporation’s law firm to review or obtain its records.   Hammond’s decision to defend the vendor and not investigate the federal Ohio official’s concerns about the vendor suggests he doesn’t understand the full scope of information that exists on the topic of “election security” being raised in Fudge’s hearings.

A request for vendors to bid on supplying South Carolina with new electronic voting equipment was due on March 1, 2019.  Hammond’s letter expresses he has no interest in learning why individuals holding office as state secretaries, and who managed elections, were dumping and banning the Accuvote-TS that South Carolina officials were buying and installing between 2004 and 2005.

Eric Jonathan Brewer
Author, Investigative Journalist, Speaker, Politician, Consultant

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