It’s 3:00 a.m. on November 7, 2012. With the painfully close presidential election now down to who wins the battleground state of Ohio, no network dares to call the race and risk repeating the mistakes of 2000 when a few networks jumped the gun on picking a winner. As the magic boards used by the networks go ‘up close and personal’ on every county in the Buckeye State, word begins to circulate that there might be a snafu with some electronic voting machines in a number of Cincinnati based precincts. There have already been complaints that broken machines were not being quickly replaced in precincts that tend to lean Democratic and now, word is coming in that there may be some software issues. The network political departments get busy and, in short order, discover that the machines used in Hamilton County, Ohio—the county home of Cincinnati— are supplied by Hart Intercivic, a national provider of voting systems in use in a wide variety of counties scattered throughout the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Colorado and Ohio. A quick Internet search reveals that there may be reason for concern.
A test conducted in 2007 by the Ohio Secretary of State revealed that five of the electronic voting systems the state was looking to use in the upcoming 2008 presidential election had failed badly, each easily susceptible to chicanery that could alter the results of an election. As reported in the New York Times, “At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.” We learn that one of the companies whose machines had failed was none other than Hart Intercivic.
With television time to fill and no ability to declare a winner so that the long night’s broadcast can be brought to a close, the staffs keep digging for relevant information to keep the attention of their viewers—and that is when it gets very real. It turns out that Hart Intercivic is owned, in large part, by H.I.G. Capital—a large investment fund with billions of dollars under management—that was founded by a fellow named Tony Tamer. While is is unclear just how much H.I.G. owns of Hart Intercivic, we do learn that H.I.G. employees hold at least two of the five Hart Intercivic board seats.