The report of review for the latest software, “Democracy Suite 5.5-A,” by Deputy Secretary of State Jose Esparza states, “Specifically, the examiner reports raise concerns about whether the Democracy Suite 5.5-A system is suitable for its intended purpose; operates efficiently and accurately; and is safe from fraudulent or unauthorized manipulation.”
DVS is a company that deals in elections software and hardware. It’s come under fire, most notably by President Donald Trump, for irregularities in its vote reporting.
The initial — and unofficial — election night reporting in Antrim County, Michigan, which uses DVS products, was wildly errant after a down-ballot adjustment threw off the machines’ operation. Votes were counted correctly, but the data from updated machines and non-updated machines failed to match up in the reporting software.
The error was caught and quickly remedied, and the Michigan Secretary of State said that the county’s canvassing would have caught the issue had it not previously. Canvassing is essentially an audit which every elections office, in every county of every state, conducts to finalize results.
Another error occurred in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where reporting of absentee ballots was delayed due to human errors in voter marking that could not be registered by the machine (i.e. a check mark instead of filling in the bubble, etc.). The error was caught and fixed.
Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office was involved in the decision to reject the software, said on a radio show this week, “We have not approved these voting systems based on repeated software and hardware issues. It was determined they were not accurate and that they failed — they had a vulnerability to fraud and unauthorized manipulation.”
But each of the Secretary of State’s three reports — conducted in August of 2012, January of 2019, and October of 2019 — indicate potential security issues were, at most, a secondary concern.
Ryan Vassar, general counsel with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), wrote, “Both during and after the examination, the examiners raised specific concerns about legal compliance, including numerous technical and mechanical issues.”
The user interface, troubleshooting, and efficiency concerns amounted to the vast majority of spilled ink in the evaluation reports.
Like elections in general, testing standards vary greatly from state to state and so the benchmark Texas sets for itself is not necessarily akin to that which Michigan establishes.
This is not the first instance political ire has been aimed at a voting systems company. After the 2004 election, the electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold was accused of manipulating the results to favor GOP President George W. Bush.
Since the tentative results on Election Night, concerns and allegations of fraud in key swing states has permeated the airwaves.
Fraud, when it occurs, exists most often in races where margins are low, though it is not non-existent. For example, in September, the Office of the Attorney General charged a Gregg County Commissioner with voter fraud during his 2018 Democratic primary, which he won by five votes.
A few days after the 2020 general election, a Limestone County social worker was charged with submitting fraudulent voter registration applications for 67 residents of the Mexia State Supported Living Center, many of whom are ineligible due to mental incapacitation.
Last week, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick offered up to $1 million in rewards for successful tips of voter fraud across the country.
Due to vigilance of officials and security measures already in widespread use, committing voter fraud of any type is quite difficult to not only carry out, but also get away with. Since its 2004 inception, the OAG’s Elections Integrity Unit has successfully prosecuted 457 counts of fraud — with many individuals prosecuted charged with multiple counts each — and had 75 investigations outstanding.
During that period, untold millions of votes have been cast in Texas.
Russell Ramsland, a Dallas County resident and member of the Allied Security Operations Group, filed an affidavit alleging irregularities from DVS services in Michigan during the 2020 election.
Thursday, the Trump campaign’s legal counsel called for a hearing on DVS and alleged fraudulent voting practices.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.