V.P. at Election Giant ES&S Threatens to Sue MadCowNews

A vice president of election giant Election Software & Services who figures in two separate  controversies currently raging over the way American elections are run and American votes counted, has accused the MadCowMorningNews of slandering him in a recent article, and announced plans to sue in Federal Court in Washington, D.C.

Gary Greenhalgh was instrumental in bringing electronic touch screen voting to Katherine Harris’ Congressional district. He sold $4.5 million worth of electronic voting machines to the Republican Election Supervisor of Sarasota County in Florida which are suspected of undercounting as many as 18,000 votes in the closely-contested Congressional election there "won" by the Republican candidate by a few hundred votes.

In addition to that brouhaha, Greenhalgh, a former employee of the Federal Election Commission, two decades ago helped establish the system of certification of U.S. electronic voting systems under increasing suspicion in a drama working its way out now concerning CIBER, Inc., a company which tests voting machines.

"A murky quasi-public but private non-profit"

 The New York Times reported that federal investigators have discovered appallingly haphazard testing regimes at leading machine certifier CIBER, and barred the firm's laboratory in Huntsville Alabama, which had been responsible for testing most of the nation's electronic voting systems, from approving any new machines.

Ec9Greenhalgh was President during the 1980’s of a company at the center of this dispute. The Election Center is a murky private non-profit based in Houston whose ill-defined quasi-public role in “certifying the certifiers” is at odds, say many computer experts, with the funding it has received from the very companies whose testing it approves, including CIBER.

Election industry veteran Greenhalgh’s 30-year history in the election industry offers a window on the world of American elections, how they are conducted, and why today there is a growing storm of controversy over whether American’s sacred right to vote includes a sacred right to have that vote counted fairly and accurately…

Or not.

An off-tackle play you won't want to miss

IIIn a series of emails last week Greenhalgh alleged he was slandered by a NOV 15 2006  story headlined “Voting Machine Official in Sarasota Recount in Election Bribery Scandal.”

The emails contained a set of “interrogatories.” This “discovery,” he wrote, is “just like that you would encounter if I decide to sue you, personally, in the Federal District court in Alexandria, Virginia.”  

There is no doubt that he is serious: Greenhalgh has an extensive history of litigation!!CVOTE821034 against individuals and government officials, and apparently sued one county five separate times. Many of those who he has sued have characterized his lawsuits as “frivolous’ and “filed to harass.”

And in one email, he fairly chortled, “I am like Vince Lombardi with the Green Bay Packers: Here comes the end sweep: Try to stop me!”  

In the interests of fairness, (as well of avoiding another lawsuit) we’ll carefully examine Greenhalgh’s allegations, as well as how his history in the industry matches up with the sentiments expressed in the quote which begins this story.

"Voting machines are different"

The quote appears in a July 11, 1990 story headlined "FBI TALKS TO EX-SHOUP EXEC; VOTING MACHINE TESTIMONY RESUMES,” in the Memphis Commercial Appeal…  

 Greenhalgh, who served with the Federal Election Commission from 1975 to 1985 as director of the FEC clearinghouse on election administration and the office of information, said "Voting machines are different from other things bought by a government.

"In purchasing voting equipment, election officials must rely heavily on the integrity, honesty and reliability of the vendor selling them this equipment," he said.

Integrity, honest reliability: Do these qualities even exist in the companies which count American votes?

Let’s take a look.

In the cell next to Abramoff?

19804Greenhalgh cites as slanderous our assertion that his history in the election industry “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.”  

He wrote: “You stated that my ‘brazen corruption equals that of any pack of Washington lobbyists.’ As you know, one of your examples, Jack Abramoff, is now in prison. Please provide to me: A. What prison am I now in? B. What crimes I have been convicted of?”

In point of fact we said nothing of the kind. Here's the full quote:

“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.’

Is the truth a defense against a charge of libel?

bribesGreenhalgh’s election career has been documented in the press. And news archives contain numerous examples from Greenhalgh's career which do, in fact, feature "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.”

Greenhalgh, moreover, is no fly by night operator, or peripheral player, hanging out with a bad element on the fringes of the industry. As he reminded us in an email, he was the Assistant Staff Director at the Federal Election Commission for 13 years. He has a PhD. He founded the Election Center in Houston, an influential if controversial organization.

Yet we wouldn't trust many of the people he's  been associated with in the "election industry"  to hold our umbrella while we put on our raincoat. So here's the big question:

Why are we forced to trust them with our sacred right to vote?

Same as it ever was. As above, so below.  Whatever.

shoupadoupadoupOn Thursday we’ll offer a fuller narrative of incidents in Greenhalgh's career which shed light on corruption in the election services industry. But here's a taste…

From the article already quoted from the Memphis Commercial Appeal on July 11, 1990 headlined "FBI TALKS TO EX-SHOUP EXEC; VOTING MACHINE TESTIMONY.”

The ex-Shoup executive talking to the FBI is Greenhalgh himself. Here are the excerpts relating to Greenhalgh in a familiar recitation of election industry corruption.
(our emphasis added)…

A former R. F. Shoup Co. official said Tuesday said he has been interviewed by the FBI in Memphis and by investigators in New York about activities of his former employer.

 Gary L. Greenhalgh is a former federal elections official and now is president of a voting equipment marketing firm that represents Shoup competitor MicroVote. From April 1987 until 1989, he was vice president of operations and marketing for Shoup, which has headquarters in the Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Greenhalgh's revelation Tuesday came a day before a federal grand jury in Memphis was to resume hearing testimony in an investigation of Shoup operations in Tennessee. Local Election Commission chairman O. C. Pleasant has been called to testify in connection with the investigation of a $ 4.4 million sale of Shouptronic voting machines to Shelby County.

The grand jury here is looking at the Shelby County sale and questioning why Shouptronic was the only voting machine certified for sale in Tennessee when the transaction occurred in 1985. Only last month, MicroVote became the second electronic voting machine approved for sale in the state.

Greenhalgh, who served with the Federal Election Commission from 1975 to 1985 as director of the FEC clearinghouse on election administration and the office of information, said ''Voting machines are different from other things bought by a government.

"In purchasing voting equipment, election officials must rely heavily on the integrity, honesty and reliability of the vendor selling them this equipment," he said.

"I feel Mr. Shoup's demonstrated track record in the election field throws considerable doubt on his personal integrity and honesty," Greenhalgh said.

He pointed to Shoup's 1979 conviction for conspiring to defraud the federal government in connection with a bribe attempt to obtain voting machine business.

Shoup could not be reached Tuesday for a response.

It's 'drop a dime' on the boss week

33699The context is clear: Greenhalgh is a former employee of Shoup. He is now a competitor. And he’s “dropping a dime” on his former boss.  

So far so good. But Shoup was convicted in 1979. Greenhalgh went to work for him, according to the article, in 1987. He had no scruples at that time, apparently, about working for a convicted felon.

What's changed? The two men are now competitors, for the same contract.  

Question for Mr. Greenhalgh: If “election officials must rely heavily on the integrity, honesty and reliability of the vendor selling them this equipment,” as you state, what should they make of the fact that you willingly worked for a convicted felon?

The supreme irony here is that, as a convicted felon, Ransom Shoup wouldn't even be permitted to vote in many states, like Florida. But these same states apparently have no scruples about allowing companies owned by convicted felons to count the vote

This lack of scruples extends to appearances on television chat shows as well. Shoup appeared on CNN's show Burden of Proof with Greta Van Sustern after the 2000 election debacle, along with Florida Gov Jeb Bush, opining about the state of American democracy.

It's almost too ironic for words.

Pre-contra freedom fighters at their leisure

But back to the story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. It highlights a continuing pattern of criminality at Shoup (one of the founding firms in the election services industry.)

Convicted in 1979, under FBI investigation for wrongdoing just eight years later…and, as we'll see in a moment, there's more.

But… here's the point: We'd have never heard about any of this (and neither would you) were it not for Gary L. Greenhalgh.

His career, (or at least that portion of it which has been documented in our nation's press) will serve as a beacon, lighting out way to the truth about the state of the American electoral process.

Note: The sorry state of electoral affairs cannot be blamed solely on the election companies.

For example, in a November 29, 1985 story in the Chicago Tribune, a Shoup salesman reports that the first question potential customers usually ask is, "Can the machines be rigged?"

Tacho. We hardly knew you.

The Tribune relates an anecdote from an American who happened to be in the palace of then-Nicaraguan dictator, Anastasio Somoza, when Ransom Shoup II was trying to sell him Shoup machines.

"Tacho (Somoza) had one question," the man recalled. "'Can I be guaranteed the election?'"

 But let's return to Ransom Shoup to provide the coda for this journey to the savage heart of the American electoral process.

When things get really bad, its often time to lie low for a while. That's, presumably, the gist of a synopsis we found of a story which ran in the New York Times on April 5, 1972…

“Shoup Voting Machine Corp will stop marketing election equipment and will distribute its products through Computer Election Systems Inc. The move is linked to 'adverse publicity' resulting from actions of ex-Shoup execs, who were sentenced for fraud in a Florida case."

3_toad-on-trial-280Officers of Shoup Voting Machine Co., as it happens, were convicted in Tampa, Florida in 1971 for bribing politicians.

Convicted? In (gasp) Florida? No!

Surely not Florida!

 

Thursday: "But wait. There's more."

Daniel Hopsicker

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.