NEW BERN – That company, Election Systems & Software is North Carolina born and bred. ES&S is a subsidiary of the Owen G. Dunn company, based in New Bern. The company’s president, Owen Andrews, is a long-time friend of former Democrat Governor Beverly Perdue and former director of the State Board of Elections Gary Bartlett. Another subsidiary of this company is Printelect.
Printelect prints the majority of ballots used in every election in NC and they apparently charge considerably more than other printers. Printelect is the sole agent for ES&S, which is the only certified election equipment vendor in NC.
They’ve come under fire in recent years for their veritable monopoly on contracts for ballot printing, electronic voting machines and maintenance, and software. Most recently we covered an interesting story about a law change in North Carolina that would effectively freeze out any competition to Owen G. Dunn Company by required vendors have a $10 million secured loan in order to qualify for state contracts. That’s cronyism, plain and simple.
Now they have been caught changing their story on whether they sold machines with remote access software to several states.
“The nation’s top voting machine maker has admitted in a letter to a federal lawmaker that the company installed remote-access software on election-management systems it sold over a period of six years, raising questions about the security of those systems and the integrity of elections that were conducted with them.
In a letter sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in April and obtained recently by Motherboard, Election Systems and Software acknowledged that it had “provided pcAnywhere remote connection software … to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006,” which was installed on the election-management system ES&S sold them.
The statement contradicts what the company told me and fact checkers for a story I wrote for the New York Times in February. At that time, a spokesperson said ES&S had never installed pcAnywhere on any election system it sold. “None of the employees, … including long-tenured employees, has any knowledge that our voting systems have ever been sold with remote-access software,” the spokesperson said.
ES&S did not respond on Monday to questions from Motherboard, and it’s not clear why the company changed its response between February and April. Lawmakers, however, have subpoena powers that can compel a company to hand over documents or provide sworn testimony on a matter lawmakers are investigating, and a statement made to lawmakers that is later proven false can have greater consequence for a company than one made to reporters.”
So, how many remote access voting machines exist in North Carolina we wonder? And who gets to access that software around election time?
This adds to the reasons that state contracts should be open to transparent competition to afford taxpayers the most value in price and quality for such services as ballot printing and voting machines. Instead we have a company that greases the palms of lawmakers, and in return gets protection for its state contracts.
And now they seem to have been less than honest when first questioned about remote access software installed on their machines.
Read more about ES&S questions here, and ask yourself why this company headquartered in Craven County has such exclusive control over one of our most sacred democratic duties.