Toronto, ON, M5T 2C7,Canada – an office space of the radical Tides Foundation. This building houses (or housed until a few months ago) a Toronto office of Tides Canada and a Tides’ incubation space for leftist groups.
Dominion Voting Systems Corp. is the Canadian company behind the ballot switching software.
Dominion was founded in 2003, with a mission to provide electronic voting systems friendly for progressives. Because of such partisanship, it languished with almost no customers for the next 5-6 years, until the Obama administration came to power. In 2010, the Obama administration confiscated electronic voting systems assets (software, intellectual property, manufacturing tools, customer base, etc.) from two established American companies, and gave them to Dominion. At the same time, Dominion got some employees and assets from a foreign EVS company, tied to Hugo Chavez.
Dominion Early History
It is not clear what products or services the company has developed. It found almost no buyers, until Obama was elected in 2008. In 2009, New York ordered a few dozens of systems from it. In 2010, Obama’s DOJ (Holder – Mueller) took the EVS unit, purchased from Diebold, away from the market leader ES&S, and gave it to Dominion. This gift included the installed base of about 30% of the US electronic voting systems (EVS) market. Within two weeks, Dominion also acquired Sequoia, which was formally spun from Smartmatic, but ties between these two companies remained. Smartmatic is a UK based EVS vendor, whose software was used by Chavez to “win” the Venezuelan referendum in 2004. Smartmatic’s unit Sequoia faced troubles in the US. Those troubles quickly ended when its assets were purchased by Dominion.
Thus, the new Democratic party created a pocket pet corporation, gave it the lion share of the US electronic voting systems market. Dominion is ideologically aligned with the Democratic Party, owes it everything it has, dependent on it for most of its business, and needs it in power to avoid prosecution for corruption. Sounds like a conflict of interest.
Using electronic voting machines has always been controversial. The pros for electronic voting – saving working time of the ballot counters – are minuscule. The cons however are infinite. Because software is inherently complex, non-transparent, and volatile, there is always a risk of significant errors. There are also suspicions and doubts about election results. The complexity of software and hardware on which voting machines run has been continually increasing, aggravating these concerns.
At the beginning of 2009, there were four major US EVS suppliers: ES&S, Premier (a unit of Nixdorf-Diebold), Sequoia (linked to Smartmatic), and Hart Intercivic. The market size was a few hundred million dollars a year and growing. EVS vendors competed among themselves and against traditional pen and paper voting. There were no barriers to entry for other competitors, other than government’s regulations.
Electronic voting, which sounded like a good idea in the 1980s is so no more. Electronic voting machines and their vendors were under criticism for many years. In 2007-2008, this criticism materialized in the SEC, DOJ, and states lawsuits against the voting machines vendors. Diebold was catching flack for having a prominent Republican party supporter among their top executives. It spun its EVS unit as a separate company Premier, and was looking for a buyer. The existing vendors were burdened with liabilities, including DOJ investigations. This opened up an opportunity for the Obama administration.
Technical Vulnerabilities of EVS Systems
The voting software developers can easily insert code, changing numbers in favor of or against one candidate. No hacking is necessary. The malicious code can be designed to pass tests and to be triggered only at the time of a real election, automatically or manually. Both case are possible even the the machine is disconnected from the internet and has no ordinary I/O devices. The malicious code can be activated manually in real time by inserting a ballot or another paper with a pre-defined QR or image code. An audit of the source code is necessary, but not sufficient. Dominion software runs on Windows, and the malicious code can be hidden in any part of the operating system. Malicious code can be hidden in the firmware, too.
If a state wants to take risks and to rely on testing and the source code audit, they should be conducted with the participation of technically competent representatives of both parties. If the system passes testing and auditing, the machine image must be securely stored. All supplied machines must have exactly the same hardware and the software as the audited system.
As far as I know, thorough tests and source code audits are conducted very rarely, if at all. Further, the vendors are not required to use only the audited image, and are allowed to update the software almost at will. That means that election commissions are forced to blindly trust the vendors. Blind trust is always wrong and invites abuse. But even “trust but verify” is applicable only to trustworthy vendors. Dominion Voting is the opposite of trustworthy.
The only real solution to the vulnerability of EVS is not to use them at all. Manual ballot counting has no software vulnerabilities, and is much cheaper. Virginia appears to be the only state that decided to use only manual ballots.
How Dominion went from nothing to everything in two weeks
“WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that it will require Election Systems & Software (ES&S) to divest voting equipment systems assets it purchased in September 2009 from Premier Election Solutions Inc. in order to restore competition. The assets to be divested include the means to produce all versions of Premier’s hardware, software and firmware used to record, tabulate, transmit or report votes, including the Assure 1.2 system, and a license to better serve disabled voters. The department said that today’s settlement will restore competition in voting equipment systems in the United States… “
“In order to restore competition” sounds funny, because the same document also required ES&S to not compete against the buyer (with exceptions).
“… the acquisition substantially reduced competition as it combined the two largest providers of systems used to tally votes in federal, state and local elections in the United States. ES&S’s acquisition of Premier made ES&S the provider of more than 70 percent of the voting equipment systems in the United States. The department said that because the cash value of the deal between ES&S and Premier was $5 million, far below the mandatory reporting threshold for mergers under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, the department’s investigation of the transaction did not begin until the companies had combined their assets and dismantled many of Premier’s operating divisions.”
Sounds like a poor pretext. The DOJ has been investigating these companies even before the merger, and was aware of it. Further, the DOJ does not allege that the merger has not been reported. Even so, why not simply demand unrolling the merger? The DOJ provides a poor excuse to demand divestiture rather than a normal unrolling.
“Under the terms of the settlement, ES&S must divest all of the intellectual property associated with all versions –past, present and in development –of the Premier voting equipment systems to another company. ES&S also must divest all Premier tooling and fixed assets, as well as inventory of parts and components. In order to allow the divestiture buyer to better serve disabled voters, ES&S must also grant a fully paid-up, irrevocable, perpetual license to use the AutoMARK, ES&S’s ballot marking device for which Premier had a limited license prior to the acquisition. The buyer of the divestiture assets will have the right to modify and improve both Premier products and the AutoMARK.”
Thus, the Obama’s DOJ stripped ES&S not only acquired Premier assets, but also coerced it to license rights to its pre-merger product.
“ES&S must sell the divestiture assets to a buyer approved by the department.”
This is not selling. This is confiscation multiplied by corruption.
“The settlement prohibits ES&S from bidding on new voting equipment system contracts using the Premier equipment. [transferred to Dominion]”
Wait, didn’t they say that the purpose was to increase the competition?
“The department also required that ES&S grant the divestiture buyer an opportunity to compete to provide services to Premier customers currently under contract with ES&S, giving customers the option to switch to the divestiture buyer or to remain with ES&S … ES&S also must provide access to knowledgeable Premier employees and agree to offer a supply agreement to allow the divestiture buyer time to establish its own manufacturing of voting equipment systems.”
The approved divestiture buyer, Dominion Voting, is not mentioned in this press release. But this quote shows that the DOJ has already determined the “approved buyer,” and knew that it had no manufacturing base.
After the “Sale”
Less than a year later, after the “antitrust” actions of Obama’s DOJ, it became:
Thus, the DOJ’s actions did the exact opposite of its words.
An elections system vendor should be non-partisan, in a demonstrable way. Dominion is not just partisan, but hyper-partisan in favor of the Democrat party, or even its pocket vendor.
Dominion has many more ties to the Democrat party and its prominent supporters in the US and abroad, which are not covered in this article.
Software Development in Serbia
Dominion develops much of its software in Belgrade, Serbia. Russia is a close friend to Serbia, if not its only one. If anybody sincerely thought that Putin wanted to hack American elections, their first location of interest would be the offices of Dominion Voting in Belgrade, rather than the Trump Tower in New York.
Some of the companies referenced here as foreign based or foreign originating re-registered in the US.
 Dominion Voting Systems Corp – discussion of Dominion’s ideology and highly partisan offers