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Scytl: Goodbye, Transparency in Voting

I want to know how America became so corrupt, so fast.

A few weeks ago when speaking to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about missile defense, President Obama inadvertently made his confidence in reelection known when he said, over a hot mic, that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with certain issues after the election. At the time I found his confidence a little bold, a little surprising, and a little disturbing; but perhaps the President knew more than the average American about who will be counting the votes this November.

SOE Software was an election results reporting company based in Florida that processed votes in over 500 U.S jurisdictions. SOE reported votes quickly and in detail, down to specific precincts. Voters could also compare results from specific voting machines at each precinct with the SOE reported results, providing two independent sources of information. But earlier this year, a company called Scytl acquired SOE Software, and with it, likely any remaining hope of transparent elections in this country.

Based in Barcelona, Spain, Scytl is a “worldwide leader in the development of secure solutions for electoral modernization” and handles Internet voting in countries such as France, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, and Spain itself. With its acquisition of SOE, this foreign company will now have a handle on our electoral process and will process the general election votes in November.

For some reason, no major news outlets are picking up this story. (In fact, Michael Savage is one of the few talking about it.) If America is to remain free, elections must remain transparent. Scytl’s involvement in our democratic process, however, simply sets the stage for corruption like we’ve never seen—voting fraud that will make the ACORN fiasco look like a picnic, corruption that I believe may spell the end to the republic.

With Scytl’s “e-voting,” votes are cast online and then downloaded to Scytl’s main server. Once those votes enter Scytl’s database, they are untraceable. With SOE Software, there are two independent sources of information (the voting machine, and SOE’s reporting system) that allow for the public to compare results and “audit” both sources of information “by matching one number against the other.” But with Scytl in control of both the method of voting and the reporting system, the public does not have the ability to audit vote counts, nor to see where votes came from. Bev Harris of blackboxvoting.org states: “With Scytl voting, there will be no ballots. No physical evidence. No chain of custody. No way for the public to authenticate who actually cast the votes, chain of custody, or the count.”  We will have little control over our electoral process if it’s in the hands of a company thousands of miles from our own soil. So much for transparency.

Scytl’s electoral modernization projects were successful in the 2010 midterm elections in 14 states including “an online platform for the delivery of blank ballots to overseas voters, an Internet voting platform, and e-pollbook software to manage the electoral roll at the polling stations.” But the Internet voting system was successfully hacked in Washington D.C. before to the midterm elections. Scytl invited outside parties to attempt to hack into the system as a security test and University of Michigan students were successful in their attempt. Perhaps most disturbing (though I can’t say surprising) is that other computers that attempted to hack into the system were traced to locations in Iran and China. The Florida Department of State also considered using Scytl’s voting system for the 2008 election but decided against it, citing three vulnerabilities of concern with the system:

“Our findings identified vulnerabilities that, in the worst case, could result in (i) voters being unable to cast votes, (ii) an election result that does not accurately reflect the will of the voters, or (iii) disclosure of confidential information, such as the votes cast by a voter.”

Can America really not count her own votes? Why are we handing over a civic right that is uniquely our own to a foreign company that has no business being involved in our electoral process? The specifics of the system itself and the lack of common sense in relying on a foreign entity to count our votes are ridiculous enough, but look at the people leading and investing in Scytl, and the plot thickens.

The CEO of Scytl, Pere Valles, is the former owner of GlobalNet, a telecommunications company based in Chicago. Coincidentally, Valles contributed the maximum amount to President Obama’s 2008 campaign. Though little information supports the claim, Valles is suspected to have some sort of contact with Media Matters, owned by the radical and ubiquitous George Soros. Do you smell the corruption yet?

Also worth noting is Scytl’s distant connection to Goldman Sachs. One of the few companies to invest in Scytl is a firm called Balderton Capital, based in the U.K. Tim Bunting is one of ten managing partners of Balderton, and spent 18 years at Goldman Sachs. Mark Evans spent 15 years at Goldman.

Regardless of how much involvement Scytl has in this coming election—be it a lot or a little—their process isn’t conducive to a completely transparent, auditable election. By outsourcing our voting reporting system to a foreign entity with a questionable vote reporting process, we’re just setting ourselves up for the most decisive election in our nation’s history to be one we have little control over.

As Joseph Stalin once said, “It’s not who votes that counts. It’s who counts the votes.”

Sarah Hinds | Webster University | Saint Louis, Missouri | @Sarah_Hinds76

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