ES&S official left company in May (WV)
Paul J. Nyden Charleston Gazette-Mail 26 October 2008
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - On Thursday, Secretary of State Betty Ireland defended her ion of touch-screen voting machines by Election Systems & Software, after several voters complained the machines were switching their votes from Democrats to Republicans.
That same day, during a ceremony at the Capitol, Ireland presented a special award to Gary Lee Greenhalgh, the ES&S vice president who sold Ireland on the machines.
Ireland called Greenhalgh "a pioneer in the use of technology in the election process."
But Greenhalgh left the company mysteriously in May, and neither he nor company officials will say why.
And while Ireland praises both Greenhalgh and his former employer, other states have rejected ES&S voting machines because of alleged security and accuracy problems.
An independent study determined that ES&S touch-screen machines could be "compromised and modified without detection, conceivably occurring before, during or after an election," presenting "serious risks to election integrity."
In recent days, at least 14 voters from Jackson, Putnam, Berkeley, Ohio, Monongalia and Greenbrier counties have told The Charleston Gazette that ES&S machines switched their votes from Democratic to Republican candidates.
No one has contacted The Gazette to say a voting machine flipped Republican votes to Democratic candidates.
In each case, county poll workers helped the voters correct their ballots. But several worried that others might not notice switched votes.
Election Systems & Software provides all electronic voting machines used in West Virginia, under an agreement reached with Ireland.
But neither Ireland nor Greenhalgh would comment about local and national controversies surrounding those machines.
Greenhalgh worked for ES&S from July 1997 until May 2008.
Greenhalgh said Friday, "I have nothing to do with ES&S now. I have not worked with them since May 30, 2008."
His wife, Jane Greenhalgh, is now the top representative for ES&S in West Virginia, according to Deputy Secretary of State Sarah C. Bailey.
Asked why he left, Greenhalgh said, "I have no comment whatsoever."
Asked whether his wife works for ES&S, Gary Greenhalgh said, "I have no idea."
Asked why he did not know where his wife works, Greenhalgh said, "I am not going to answer any questions."
Today, Greenhalgh is a regional account manager for Casto & Harris Inc., a sub-contractor (with offices in Spencer) that ES&S uses to provide electronic ballots to all West Virginia counties.
Greenhalgh also heads Greenhalgh Election Associates, a limited liability company he incorporated in Virginia on June 24, 2008, to solicit "election support contracts" in several states.
The Greenhalghs have a residence in the Snowshoe resort area.
Ken Fields, an ES&S spokesman from St. Louis, Mo., declined to talk about Gary Greenhalgh or why he is no longer employed by ES&S.
"I am not sure what relevance he has with these issues," Fields said. "I am not aware he is part of the company. What does he have to do with the equipment?"
On Thursday, Ireland presented Greenhalgh with a Medallion Award from the National Association of Secretaries of State.
During the ceremony, Ireland said recipients like Greenhalgh have "established a very distinctive record in areas including responsible citizenship, voter registration, use of technology and service to local elected officials and county government."
Serious security flaws
ES&S was founded 35 years ago and is based in Omaha, Neb. The company now has "a customer base of more than 1,700 jurisdictions in the U.S., representing 58.4 million registered voters nationwide," according to its Web site.
ES&S manufactures voting machines, sometimes called iVotronics machines, that have sparked major controversies in Ohio, Florida, Colorado, California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
On Dec. 14, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer L. Brunner released a study about her state's voting machines, called "Project Everest: Evaluation and Validation of Election Related Equipment, Standards and Testing."
"Project Everest" identifies several problems with the reliability and accuracy of Ohio's electronic voting machines, including machines provided by ES&S, beginning in 2005.
The "Project Everest" report also mentions that "serious flaws in the security of voting systems" were also found in other states including: California, Florida, New Jersey and Connecticut.
SysTest Labs of Denver, retained by Brenner to analyze Ohio's voting machines, found iVotronic voting software could be "compromised and modified without detection, conceivably occurring before, during or after an election," presenting "serious risks to election integrity."
SysTest found the risk of vote fraud or losing votes "appears magnified by the fact that safeguards cannot be built into the system," in other forms such as paper storage cards.
ES&S machines are also vulnerable to power failures, which can erase already-scanned ballots.
"If such ballots are not reprocessed," SysTest reported, "those votes will not be counted."
Company spokesman Ken Fields said, "iVotronics machines have accurately and securely recorded the votes of millions and millions of voters. The machine has performed exactly as intended."
Ireland has no plans to investigate ES&S, despite recent complaints from voters.
"Election field representatives and fraud investigators from the Secretary of State's Office are scheduled to personally examine the machines at issue, put the machines through their paces and attempt to replicate the experience reported by the few voters who had difficulties.
"Their findings will then be presented to the State Election Commission. The secretary does not feel, at this time, the need to commission an investigation from an outside group," Bailey wrote in an e-mail on Friday.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper says that's not good enough.
"The state of Ohio banned these machines, determining they were not fit to be used in an election. Yet the state of West Virginia is not even interested in giving them a second look," Carper said.
Today, 19 counties in West Virginia use ES&S optical-scan machines, while 34 counties use ES&S touch screens. Wyoming and Braxton counties used paper ballots in recent elections.
Carper believes the optical-scan option is better.
"We've got a paper trail if all else fails. Your vote will count in Kanawha County," he said.
ES&S isn't the only controversial manufacturer of voting machines. Political leaders and computer experts across the country have criticized voting machines made by ES&S, Diebold (now Premier Election Systems), Sequoia Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic.
VotersUnite.Org issued a report in August by Ellen Thelsen titled: "Vendors are Undermining the Structure of U.S. Elections."
Thelsen warns, "As we approach the 2008 general election, the structure of elections in the United States - once reliant on local representatives accountable to the public - has become almost wholly dependent on large corporations, which are not accountable to the public."
Major private vendors, including ES&S, Thelsen believes, "exploit the local jurisdictions' dependency by charging exorbitant fees, violating laws and ethics, exerting proprietary control over the machinery of elections and disclaiming accountability."