How Canada-Based Dominion Voting Systems and U.S.-Based ES&S Cornered the U.S. Voting Machine Market

By: - November 9, 2020

As the visibility of the “glitches” found in Dominion Voting Systems continues to spread across multiple states, and the longstanding issues surrounding Election Systems & Software start to re-surface, one critical question has yet to be asked, “How did they manage to corner the U.S. election voter market in the first place?”

On September 14, 2009, Hart Interactive, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Diebold Incorporated and Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) alleging antitrust claims after the September 2, 2009 purchase of Diebold’s outstanding stock of Premier Election Solutions and the assets of Premier Canada.   This transaction gave Election Systems & Software a 68% share of the U.S. voting machine market.

Not only did that transaction grant ES&S a monopolistic stranglehold on the election market, Hart alleged and provided evidence of anticompetitive conduct by both Diebold and ES&S.  In the lawsuit, Hart states, Diebold and ES&S systemically:

  1. Wins bids by billing low then gouging locked-in customers for more aftermarket service and equipment.
  2. Misrepresents by exaggerating the features, capabilities, or certification status of the systems, or by falsely disparaging the features, capabilities, or certification status of rival systems.
  3. Engages in strategies that raise their rivals codes.
  4. Imposes unreasonable restrictions on access to software and other intellectual properties – in other words, customers could not have visibility to the source code prior to the election to ensure it had not been tampered with.
  5. Exerts improper and undue influence on government officials to achieve favorable competitive bidding outcomes.
  6. Initiates litigation upon losing competitive bidding contests to establish a litigious reputation among customers adding a risk premium to the cost of choosing a rival system.

The filing also cited numerous sources demonstrating the anti-competitive behaviors both companies had engaged in throughout the years.

To gain perspective of the hyper consolidation, before the “merge” of ES&S with Diebold’s Premier Election entities, ES&S had a substantial market share in the U.S.

Vendor Before ES&S/Diebold’s Premier Election division Merge
Hart Interactive 9%
Diebold (under the name Premier Election Solutions) 23%
Election Systems and Software 45%
Sequoia Voting Systems 18%
Dominion Voting Systems 5%

 

After the “merge” of Diebold’s Premier Election entity with ES&S, the market share looked like this:

Vendor 2009 Market Share After ES&S purchase of Diebold’s holdings
Hart Interactive 9%
Election Systems and Software 68%
Sequoia Voting Systems 18%
Dominion Voting Systems 5%

 

Clearly, an attempt to form a monopoly had occurred with Elections Systems and Software having the dominant edge.

On May 19, 2010, under the leadership of Eric Holder, Obama/Biden’s justice department settled the anti-trust case with the sale of ES&S’s legacy Diebold Premier Election assets to Dominion Voting Systems which, once again, reallocated the market share:

Vendor After Premier Sale to Dominion
Hart Interactive 9%
Election Systems and Software 45%
Sequoia Voting Systems 18%
Dominion Voting Systems 28%

 

This, of course, gave the illusion that the market distribution was more equitable, but it did not address the documented systemic issues Premier and ES&S voting solutions included in the Hart filing, and widely reported in a number of countries using both systems.

Then, on June 4, 2010, Dominion Voting Systems quietly bought out its California-based competitor Sequoia Voting Systems further collapsing the voting machine market:

Vendor After Sequoia Buyout
Hart Interactive 9%
Election Systems and Software 45%
Dominion Voting Systems 46%

 

Again, giving the illusion of competitiveness with two dominant vendors.  But none of the issues with ES&S or Dominion’s legacy purchases were addressed.  The Obama/Biden administration knew there were issues, knew what they were, and refused to act on them.

One would have expected both sides of the aisle would have been advised of the issues, but it does not appear that Republicans were kept in the loop. Nor does it appear Democrats were given a head’s up on the issues, or subsequent hyper-consolidation less than a year later.

Consider this, on the day of the initial Hart filing, Wired magazine reported that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote in a letter to Atty General Holder, “If this acquisition proceeds, one company could control over three-quarters of the user market for voting systems.” Wired also noted that Schumer raised concerns that consolidating the voting machine market would make it easier for someone to commit fraud.

As the Trump campaign presses forward with their lawsuits, some alleging fraud, many clearly showing “glitches” in the software have been found, Democrats have begun grandstanding on issues that have been widely reported for years, and known by the Obama/Biden administration as a result of the Hart anti-trust suit in 2009, know this:

  1. As Attorney General for the Obama/Biden Administration, Eric Holder oversaw the consolidation of our election system to two dominant vendors – Dominion and Election Systems & Software.
  2. As Attorney General for the Obama/Biden Administration, Eric Holder knew the issues that Hart reported in their anti-trust suits.
  3. Someone should start asking staffers from the Obama/Biden administration about what they knew, when they knew it, and why they didn’t speak up about it.

My suggestion is to start with Obama/Biden’s Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, and Federal Election Commission members during that time.  Since the Left is in deflect, deflect, deflect mode, my suggestion to the Republicans would be to FOIA each department themselves.

Before calling the CEOs of the three companies back in, I also suggest Republicans begin with the list of allegations Hart brought forward in their 2009 lawsuit and issue subpoenas on the documentation from there.  Once they have everything in order, call the CEOs back before the various committees and grill them.

Next, Republicans need to enact laws (or enforce existing ones) to ensure that:

  1. At any point in time, a state, county, or federal auditor can demand the companies open up their source code for inspection prior to the machines going on the floor.
  2. Ensure software solution vendors do not have undue influence over how requests for proposals are written and/or “advise” on “changes” that need to be made to the RFP to single out competitors.
  3. Ensure new, DOMESTIC-based companies have a fighting chance to enter the market.
  4. Ensure all coding is done on U.S. soil by U.S. citizens who have gone through a rigorous background check.

Finally, for the media types who have zero clue on how software is built, and “glitches” are fixed – stop trying to build sympathy points and excuses for Dominion.  They knew the software they purchased based on the Hart filing had issues and had 10 years to fix them.  They failed to do so.  These failures and breakdowns in the public’s trust are 100% due to their failed leadership.