Roger Rancor
Wed Nov 15, 2006 19:16


NOV 15 2006

Gary L.Greenhalgh, the election company executive responsible for the touch-screen electronic voting machines in Sarasota County which failed to register fully one of every seven votes cast in last week’s hotly-contested race to replace Rep. Katherine Harris, has a checkered past, the MadCowMorningNews has learned exclusively, including involvement in election bribery scandals.

The most recent rocked voters in North Carolina in 1999, and resulted in the supervisor of elections in North Carolina's Mecklenburg County being sent to federal prison for taking over $130,000 in payoffs from MicroVote, the election company where Greenhalgh was national sales director.

More recently, as vice president of Election Software & Services (ES&S), Greenhalgh was instrumental, first success of an all-out push in 2001 by then newly-elected Sarasota County election supervisor Kathy Dent to persuade Sarasota County to pay more than four million dollars for touch-screen electronic voting machines; and then as the project manager overseeing their installation.

Greenhalgh's Ivotronic machines allegedly failed to register over 18,000 votes in Sarasota County last week; his touch screen machines were almost entirely responsible for the massive 13% undercount of votes which marred the closest Congressional contest in the country, which pitted Republican Vern Buchanan against Democrat Christine Jennings.

Thus it is not incidental to discussion of the fairness of that contest that the curriculum vitae of one of its key players, the man who brought touch screen voting to the hometown of Katherine Harris, has been filled with textbook examples of American elections being conducted by people whose sheer brazen corruption equals that of any pack of Washington lobbyists sharing Jack Abramoff's Skybox at a Redskin game with the San Diego "defense contractor" buddies of convicted grifter Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

But wait. There's more.

In an ironic twist (in a story abounding with them), Greenhalgh was once quoted in the New York Times saying, “The problem with computer-assisted voting systems was that they centralized the opportunity for fraud.”

Greenhalgh's long service in the election industry, we have learned, stretches all the way back to one of the earliest election companies, Shoup Electronics, working for company founder Ransom Shoup, who was himself convicted of bribery and sent to federal prison in 1979.

It has, of course, dawned by now on most observers that bribes and payoffs to election officials are a matter of course in what is, by almost any standard, a highly-corrupt business.

Nonetheless, it still comes as something of a shock to discover that the man responsible for Florida's latest vote snafu was once accused by a former boss of selling defective voting machines.

Appeals Court rules "Lying asshole" wasn't meant literally

Greenhalgh also has a long and occasionally hilarious history of suing people and corporations who in some fashion displease him.

"(Greenhalgh) once sued a Franklin, Tennessee election official for slander after the man called him a liar,” reported the Charlotte Observer.

(Given our own recent history of being sued by individuals feeling that the old saying "The truth hurts" was never meant to apply to them, we admit to receiving this news with some dismay.)

The election official he was suing had actually called him a "lying asshole," information the Charlotte Observer was apparently hesitant to pass on to its readers.

Greenhalgh's lawsuit apparently set a new legal precedent. A U.S. Appeals Court threw out his slander suit. The official's phrase was, they said, merely "rhetorical hyperbole."

"Casey( the election official Greenhalgh was suing) could not have meant literally the statement that Greenhalgh's 'anus was making an untruthful statement'" reasoned the court. [National Law Journal, 10-30-95]

A blow for liberty, to be sure. We gave a silent cheer.

Losing our religion... and our democracy?

"Lying assholes" aside, Sarasota County supervisor of elections Kathy Dent was a full partner in the effort to bring the 'benefits' of electronic voting to Sarasota, FL.

According to the Sarasota Herald Tribune, "Dent's most significant decision in office was pushing hard for Sarasota County to purchase touch screen voting machines in 2001."

Ironically, while lobbying Sarasota County Commissioners in a successful campaign to spend millions on new touch screen electronic voting machines in 2001, one of Dent's primary arguments was that the new machines would lower the rate of uncounted votes, which then stood at barely one percent, versus the 13% undervote in the election last week.

“I do think we're going to see those numbers drop,” Dent told Commissioners. “We're looking more for accuracy and the confidence that the voters have in the system.”

The Dark Side of the (Republican) Force

As the Sarasota recount began Monday, the embattled Republican election supervisor Kathy Dent looked shaken and pale.

In the face of sudden and skeptical scrutiny she hastily announced a complete about-face, stating she will now implement a county ballot proposition calling for paper ballots, which she had been fighting tooth and (manicured) nail in the courts.

Dent may turn an even-whiter shade of pale when she learns of the negative comments her partner in crime (not literally) Greenhalgh made about electronic voting machines,

“The problem with computer-assisted voting systems is that they centralize the opportunity for fraud," Greenhalgh said, in a July 29,1985 story in the New York Times.

“There is a massive potential for problems."

Reported the Times: “Mr. Greenhalgh said that while lever-type voting machines could have their counts rigged only machine by machine, counting votes by computer was done at one central site in most counties.”

Now he tells us.

How to fix elections in three easy steps

The North Carolina scandal began in earnest in 1994, when generous election supervisor Bill Culp awarded MicroVote a contract for $5.2 million in voting machines. Another $1.3 million changed hands in 1997.

At the time MicroVote was a hapless firm reeling from setbacks, like one in Montgomery County, Pa., north of Philadelphia, where its machines kept shutting down during a November 1995 election, freezing as voters scrolled through a three-page electronic ballot.

When glitches resurfaced the following spring, Montgomery County sued MicroVote. MicroVote counter-sued, and eventually had filed four lawsuits at various times.

And here's where it gets interesting...

Montgomery County traded the machines to a dummy ‘front’ company, which turned around and resold them to Bill Culp, whose North Carolina county bought 400 of Montgomery County's rejects."


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