Sale Would Give One Voting Machine Company Most of US Market

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mary Boyle, (202) 736-5770

Sale Would Give One Voting Machine Company Most of US Market

WASHINGTON - Common Cause is raising concerns over the proposed sale of
Diebold's voting systems division to its largest competitor in a move
that could give the combined voting machine company as much as 70
percent of the voting systems market. Common Cause is urging the
Justice Department to do a thorough review of the proposed deal.

"One company dominating the voting machine market raises
concerns about reliability and election fraud issues, and also means it
will be harder for election officials to negotiate for voting systems
on a limited budget," said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. "It is in
the public's interest to have more competition and diversity among
voting machine manufacturers, not less."

Earlier this month, Ohio-based Diebold announced it was selling its
voting systems division, Premier Voting Solutions, to its largest
competitor Election Systems & Software (ES&S), based in
Nebraska.

A competing voting-systems manufacturer, Hart
InterCivic, sued in response to the proposed merger, saying the deal
would give ES&S control over voting systems used in 70 percent of
the precincts nationwide and create an illegal monopoly. Hart InterCivic is seeking an injunction in federal court in Delaware to block the sale.

In some states such as Ohio, the merger would reportedly make ES&S
the sole provider of tough-screen or optical-scan voting systems in
nearly every precinct in the state.

"Not only is this level of market dominance bad for competition
possibly leading to higher prices for taxpayers, it also consolidates
control of voting system technology making potential security or
software problems more widespread," Edgar said.

Diebold and ES&S have been criticized by election officials and
experts for dramatically increasing prices for aftermarket service and
equipment and misrepresenting the capabilities or certification status
of their systems. In January 2008, Clerk of Hancock County, IL
requested the U.S. Department of Justice investigate ES&S for
increasing costs nearly four-fold in six years. The same month,
ES&S settled a lawsuit with the City of San Francisco for $3.5
million for selling and servicing voting systems to the city and county
that were not certified by the state.

Premier has also had its share of problems with the performance of its
machines. Last year, the Ohio Secretary of State sued the company after
votes in at least 11 counties appeared to have been "dropped" by
touch-screen machines provided by Premier.

Common Cause is urging the Justice Department's anti-trust division to
look at the proposed merger based on concerns about
anti-competitiveness. Click here to read the letter.

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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