Democrat leaders, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), and Ron Wyden (OR), wrote a letter in December 2019 to the private equity firms controlling the United States’ three leading election technology companies, expressing concern in the letter about the election technology industry’s “vulnerabilities” and “lack of transparency.”
The letter was sent on December 6, 2019, to three private equity firms, taking issue with “vulnerabilities and a lack of transparency in the election technology industry and the poor condition of voting machines and other election technology equipment,” Warren’s office said of the letter. The letter sought information about what role the firms had in perpetuating the technology issues.
The letter was sent to the following:
- H.I.G. Capital, investing in Hart InterCivic
- McCarthy Group, investing in Election Systems & Software
- Staple Street Capital, investing in Dominion Voting Systems
At the time, those three election technology companies facilitated 90 percent of voters, the letter noted, citing the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Today, Election Systems & Software and Dominion Voting Systems facilitate more than three-quarters of voters, while Hart InterCivic was “quietly sold” by its owner, H.I.G. Capital, in April of this year, according to an October 28, 2020, report from the Wall Street Journal, which also cited Wharton School.
Dominion entered the spotlight in the days following the election after unofficial results were reported erroneously in Antrim County, Michigan — one of many locations that utilize Dominion’s software for their elections. The results attracted attention late on election night after showing presidential candidate Joe Biden (D) leading President Donald Trump in the heavily red county. A statement from Michigan’s secretary of state explained the error was an “isolated user error” and not a software error.
Gwinnett County, Georgia, which also utilizes Dominion’s software, experienced a delay in vote counting because of an unknown issue with the software. The county reported that Dominion technicians had resolved the issue by November 8 and that the county was able to count its remaining ballots that day.
Trump’s campaign and many Republican pundits have sounded alarms over the voting technology, but the letter from leading Democrats in 2019 indicates concerns may be bipartisan.
The Democrats’ letter identified a multitude of issues, at one point referencing a Vice report, saying, “In 2018 alone ‘voters in South Carolina [were] reporting machines that switched their votes after they’d inputted them, scanners [were] rejecting paper ballots in Missouri, and busted machines [were] causing long lines in Indiana.’”
The letter also noted that around 20 election technology vendors had competed in that market in the early 2000s but that the vendors have since consolidated to where only a few control the “vast majority of the market.”
Warren told the Journal in an email, “Private-equity firms ‘have taken over nearly all of the nation’s election technology—and how they do business is clouded in secrecy.’” Staple Street Capital, which purchased Dominion in 2018, reportedly partially responded to the Democrats’ letter at the time, while the other two firms did not respond.
Dominion issued a vehement statement Friday fully rejecting various accusations that have been circulating about the company since the election. Dominion said that it “categorically denies false assertions about vote switching issues with our voting systems,” that the company is nonpartisan, and that “assertions of voter fraud conspiracies are 100% false.”
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