By Kim Zetter
August 14, 2007 | 3:33:21
Per the previous post http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/08/dan-rather-inve.html about a manufacturing facility in the Philippines that has been assembling voting machines for Election Systems & Software, it appears that ES&S failed to disclose the foreign facility's role in assembling its voting machines to the Federal Election Assistance Commission.
The EAC is newly in charge of overseeing the testing and certification of voting machines. As part of that process, voting machine companies are required to disclose the names and locations of all of their manufacturing and assembling facilities. But, according to a letter the EAC sent to ES&S today (pdf) http://www.eac.gov/docs/08142007/ES&S.Notice%20of%20Non%20Compliance.pdf , ES&S failed to disclose the existence of the Manila sweatshop that has been assembling its machines for several years, although the company did submit a list of other manufacturing facilities involved in making its machines.
The Manila factory, Teletech, was uncovered by producers working for Dan Rather Reports, which will be airing an hour-long special tonight on HDNet entitled The Trouble with Touch Screens http://www.hd.net/drr227.htm . The program discloses that workers at the Manila sweatshop earn between $2.15 and $2.50 a day assembling ES&S machines, and that the touch-screens had a high failure rate and received little to no testing before being sent back to the states and sold to counties.
ES&S did not respond to a call for comment. So I asked the EAC for the list that ES&S submitted regarding its manufacturing facilities. Here it is:
FutureLogic; Phoenix, AZPivot International; Lenexa, KS Ricoh Electronics; Tustin, CA Technical Support , Inc; Omaha, NE Xten Industries; Kenosha, WI
Notice that ES&S's list does include Pivot International, based in Kansas, but it does not mention that Pivot actually has the machines assembled at the Teletech factory in Manila. This raises questions about other manufacturers listed. How many of them are listed in the U.S. but actually do the manufacturing and assembling of voting machines overseas?
The EAC also provided me with a list of manufacturing facilities disclosed by other voting machine makers. For that complete list, follow the jump below.
UPDATE: After this post was published, ES&S responded to my query about why the Manila factory didn't appear on its list of manufacturers by saying that it was an "unintentional oversight" and that the company would promptly update the list it had sent the EAC and "ensure future reports contain all information required." ES&S spokesman Ken Fields also stated that ES&S did provide information about the Manila factory to the U.S. testing labs that previously were responsible for conducting certification tests on voting machines and that those testing authorities had conducted "quarterly audits" of the Manila factory "for years."
If this is the case, it would be interesting to know why those apparent audits never uncovered the sweatshop conditions that Dan Rather's producers uncovered at the Manila factory or that an American manager discovered at the factory in 2001 -- the manager told Rather that he had to haul away truckloads of rats, snakes and other refuse from the factory.
It should also be noted that another company name is missing from ES&S's list of manufacturers -- the Minnesota-based Bergquist company that is responsible for making ES&S's touch-screens. Fields did not respond to my question about why Bergquist is also not on ES&S's list. It's possible the company no longer makes the touch screens for ES&S, but I'm just guessing at that. According to an affidavit filed in a Minnesota lawsuit, in 2002 a former material scientist for Bergquist urged a recall of the touch screens that Bergquist made for ES&S and sent to the Manila factory for assembly. The scientist, Patricia Dunn, warned that the screens were likely to misbehave in humid weather, such as that found in Florida and other states that use the ES&S machines. Mark Cuban, a founder of HDNet, discusses Dunn's affidavit on his blog http://www.blogmaverick.com/2007/08/14/watch-dan-rather-tonight-on-hdnet-8pm-est/ .
Below is a complete list of manufacturers submitted by voting machine companies to the EAC. Only three voting machine companies -- Advanced Voting Solutions, Dominion, and Sequoia -- list any manufacturers outside U.S. borders.
Advanced Voting Solutions, Inc.
Galaxy Commutech Limited; Hong Kong
Dominion Voting Systems Corp.
Solectron EMS Canada; Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
MicroArt Services, Inc.; Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Dominion Voting Systems; Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Hart InterCivic, Inc.
Suntron, Inc.; Sugar Land
McDonald Technologies; Farmers Branch, Texas
MicroVote General Corporation
Carson Manufacturing Company, Inc.; Indianapolis, IN
GEMPLUS; Philadelphia, PA
Chatsworth Data Corporation; Chatsworth
Sequoia Voting Systems
Jaco Electronics, Inc.; Hauppauge, NY
Harvard Manufacturing Group; Owego, NY
Jarltech; Hsin Tien, Taipei, Taiwan
Election Systems & Software (ES&S)
FutureLogic; Phoenix, AZ
Pivot International; Lenexa, KS
Ricoh Electronics; Tustin, CA
Technical Support , Inc; Omaha, NE
Xten Industries; Kenosha, WI
TruVote International, Inc.
Salt Lake City, UT
Avante International Technology, Inc.
Princeton Junction, NJ
Diebold Election Systems Inc.
Unisyn Voting Solutions
Election Systems & Software (ES&S); Vista, NE