Florida: Groups and Election Officials Warn Department of Justice that Voting Machine Vendor Merger will Inflate Costs to Taxpayers, Threaten Election Accuracy and National Security
Experts propose remedies to prevent U.S. monopoly of Voting Equipment and Election Services
In a letter to Attorney General Holder, election administrators, computer experts and fair election advocates warned that last year’s merger of the largest and second largest voting machine manufacturers has “broad-based detrimental public impact.” They outlined serious threats to national security and election accuracy. The experts cautioned the merger produces greater capacity for predatory pricing and coercive contractual terms that raise costs to taxpayers and harm other commercial vendors. The letter suggests actions the Department of Justice Antitrust Division should take to correct major market injuries and fortify election and national security.
In September 2009, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S) announced it had purchased Premier Election Solutions, Inc. (formerly known as Diebold Election Systems, Inc.), consolidating over 70% of the U.S. voting system market into one private company. In December, the Florida Attorney General announced its office was investigating the merger over concerns it constituted anti-competitive behavior that may seriously harm consumers. In their letter, experts cite a record of anti-competitive market practices by ES&S that include contract clauses which prohibit ES&S governmental customers from hiring other vendors to service, program or administer ES&S voting equipment and predatory pricing of goods and services to drive other vendors out of business. They claim taxpayers and election offices have been harmed by Election Eve threats to cut off services if local governments did not accept higher prices for previously contracted Election Day services.