Election Center

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According to its website, the Election Center is "a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, preserving, and improving democracy. Its members are government employees whose profession is to serve in voter registration and elections administration."[1] It is also knows as the National Association of Election Officials and is affiliated with the National Association State Election Directors.

In October 2003, Jim Hightower [2] the Election Center as a "private firm that also doubles as the quasi-regulator of the industry, supposedly overseeing the integrity of the machines, while also coordinating affairs between the vendors and state election officials" and Center executive director R. Doug Lewis as "the perfect embodiment of George W.’s philosophy of 'voluntary regulation.'"

History

According to the website of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, the "Election Center Inc." was incorporated on January 18, 1980. There is no information on file regarding the officers and directors of the Center, except that Beverley Walker was the registered agent.[1]

The Election Center was reincorporated in the state of Virginia on October 23, 1990, according to the Virginia State Corporation Commission.[2][3]. A subsequent filing in Virginia gives Beverley Walker as treasurer, strongly suggesting that this is the same corporate entity as the one registered in Texas in 1980.[3]

The registered agent cited on the Virginia filing is Beverley L. Crump, an attorney from Richmond, VA, effective from February 7, 1997. The previous agent, according to the VA filing, was Carol D. Garner. [4] Carol Garner is mentioned in an early reference to the Center in the Usenet archive. According to a posting from September 1988, a panel discussion on "Accuracy in Computer-Tabulated Elections" took place at George Washington University on 4th October 1988. One of the participants is described as "Carol Garner, Director of the Election Center (a nonprofit organization for election officials; the closest thing they have to the ACM, and moving slowly in that direction)." [5]

A 1988 publication by the National Bureau of Standards (now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce) gave this account of the Center's formation:

The Election Center, affiliated with the Academy for State and Local Government, was established in 1984. The Center is an independent non-profit resource center serving registration and election officials. National and regional election conferences sponsored by the Center, as well as reports and other data distributed to officials, provide training and information in some thirty-five areas of election administration. The Center has recently distributed the report of a workshop held on Captiva Island, Florida, in February, 1987. The workshop concerned computerized vote-tallying and included, as participants, election officials, vendors, computer scientists, and others interested in the election process. The workshop was funded by grants to the George Washington University by the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation. The Election Center had no part in the workshop but, because of its clientele, served as a convenient avenue of distribution for the report.[4]

Since 1994, the director of the Center has been R. Doug Lewis.[6]

Funding of the Election Center by e-voting machine manufacturers

Critics of the organization contend that it acts as a front group for e-voting machine vendors. In March 2004, a mistake by the IRS inadvertently revealed that e-voting machine vendor Sequoia had donated $10,000 per year to the Center from 1997 through 2000. The story was broken by the Philadelphia Inquirer [7].

When challenged by the Inquirer, the Center's executive director R. Doug Lewis confirmed that the center had taken donations from the following makers of electronic voting machines [8]:

Sponsorship of events at the Election Center's annual conference

In August 2004, the Election Center held its annual conference for election officials in Washington, DC. A number of events were sponsored by e-voting machine manufacturers [5]:

  • Wed Aug 25, 2004: Welcome Reception. Sponsored by Diebold Election Systems.
  • Thurs Aug 26, 2004: A Dinner Cruise on the Potomac and Monuments by Night Tour. Co-sponsored by Sequoia Voting Systems.
  • Fri Aug 27, 2004: Graduation Luncheon and Awards Ceremony. Sponsored by Electronic Systems & Software Inc.

Public relations companies known to have worked for the Election Center

A 1999 resume for PR operative Judith A. Schweich, published online, lists the Election Center as having been a client of her company Valley Associates between October 1990 and August 1993 [6].

EC's role accrediting testers of donors machines

Electronic voting machines, in the United States, are tested by independent testing authorities. The companies permitted to act as ITAs are designated by the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED). The Election Center acts as secretariat for NASED. [9]

"General Overview for Getting a Voting System Qualified", a document available on the Election Center's website, gives further information about the relationship between the Center, NASED, and the ITAs: "The Center serves as NASED's day-to-day management company for working with the ITAs, with the FEC and with the states. The Center has no authority to pass or fail any system, but works with the local jurisdictions in answering questions concerning the manufacturer's products (at least those qualified or not qualified under the FVSS). The Center serves as the focal point for coordination among the FEC, NASED and state and local jurisdictions and the ITAs. The ITAs DO NOT and WILL NOT respond to outside inquiries about the testing process for voting systems, nor will they answer questions related to a specific manufacturer or a specific voting system. They have neither the staff nor the time to explain the process to the public, the news media or jurisdictions. All such inquiries are to be directed to The Election Center on behalf of NASED." [10] [11]

In a 2003 telephone interview with e-voting activist Bev Harris, the Center's director R. Doug Lewis agreed with a more straightforward statement of the Election Center's role in the selection of ITAs. Harris recounts the following exchange:

Harris: "Mr Lewis, I understand that your organization is the one that, basically, certifies the certifiers of the voting machines, is that correct?"
Lewis: "Yes."

Harris notes that this is not strictly true, and wonders whether "perhaps he misunderstood my question".[12]

"More than a decade ago, the Federal Election Commission authorized the National Association of State Election Directors to choose the independent testers," the Associated Press's Bill Poovey, et al., [13] August 23, 2004. The Association website then said that "testing outfits" CIBER and Wyle Laboratories in Huntsville and SysTest Labs in Denver "have neither the staff nor the time to explain the process to the public, the news media or jurisdictions" and "directs inquiries [to] a Houston-based nonprofit organization, the Election Center, that assists election officials. The center's executive director, Doug Lewis, did not return telephone messages seeking comment," the AP reporters wrote. "The election directors' voting systems board chairman, former New York State elections director Thomas Wilkey, said the testers' secrecy stems from the FEC's refusal to take the lead in choosing them and the government's unwillingness to pay for it."

Officers and directors of the Election Center

The job titles given below are those from the source documents, which is why they are not always consistent for a given individual. This is not a full list - it merely indicates what is currently known about the Election Center's history.

Date(s) Officers and directors Source
January 18, 1980 Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts[7]
1985 Congressional House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service report[8]
1988,1989 Committee on House Administration: Subcommittee on Elections report[9][10]
October 23, 1990 Virginia State Corporation Commission[11]
January 14, 1992
  • Carol D. Garner - President and Chairman
  • Benjamin J. Jones - Secretary
  • Beverly Walker - Treasurer
Virginia State Corporation Commission[12]
  • October 13, 1992
  • 1994
  • Carol D. Garner - Director
  • Beverly Walker - Director
  • Ernest R. Hawkins - Director
  • Patricia A. Hawkins - Director
Virginia State Corporation Commission[13]
July 19, 1995 Virginia State Corporation Commission[14]
September 13, 2004
  • R Doug Lewis - Corporate Secretary/Executive Director
  • Ernest Hawkins - Director
  • Hon Gary Bartlett - Director
  • Hon Donetta Davidson - Director
  • Thomas Wilkey - Director
Virginia State Corporation Commission [15]:
September 21, 2005
  • R Doug Lewis - Corporate Secretary/Executive Director
  • Ernest Hawkins - Director
  • Alice Miller - Director
  • Dr Robert Montjoy - Director
  • Julie Pearson - Director
Virginia State Corporation Commission[16]

Election Center Committees and Task Forces

The following information is from pages archived from the Election Center's website.

Election Center National Task Force on Voting Accessibility

The membership of this taskforce was notable for the inclusion of Therese LePore, who designed the infamous "butterfly ballot" in Palm Beach County in the 2000 presidential election. The list of members given here is as of February 2005.

[17][18]

Contact details

12543 Westella, Suite 100
Houston, TX 77077
Phone: 281-293-0101
Fax: 281-293-0453
Email: services AT electioncenter.org
Website: http://www.electioncenter.org/
(source)

A contact address from 1989, which may be of use to those researching the organization, is: P.O. Box 6690, McClean, VA 22160.[19]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. http://www.electioncenter.org/
  2. http://www.hightowerlowdown.org/node/810 described
  3. http://www.SourceWatch.org/wiki.phtml?title=Image:TheElectionCenter_VirginiaFiling_DataSummary.jpg
  4. http://www.SourceWatch.org/wiki.phtml?title=Image:TheElectionCenter_VirginiaFiling_RegisteredAgent_Accessed3Nov04.jpg
  5. http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=12430875901.16.NEUMANN%40KL.SRI.COM&output=gplain
  6. http://www.centerforpolitics.org/reform/nssreport_entire.pdf
  7. http://www.wheresthepaper.org/MercuryNews05_30ElectionOfficialsRelyOnPrivateFirms.htm
  8. http://www.wheresthepaper.org/MercuryNews05_30ElectionOfficialsRelyOnPrivateFirms.htm
  9. http://www.fec.gov/pages/faqsvss.htm
  10. http://www.electioncenter.org/NASED/NASED%20qualify.doc
  11. http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:Z5a780OHKqcJ:www.electioncenter.org/NASED/NASED%2520qualify.doc+nased+ita+%22election+center%22&hl=en
  12. http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-6.pdf
  13. http://www.calvoter.org/news/blog/2004_08_01_blogarchive.html#109330273246746673 reported

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