In the past few weeks, since I began writing about elections and politics and government, people have asked me, “Why?” Why am I doing all this research and writing about it? And my answer is simple: I am on a quest to become a well-informed voter and I’d like to help others to become more informed, as well.
It has become abundantly clear, with all the republican efforts to suppress votes, that the integrity of elections is up to the people. Who makes decisions that directly affect our day-to-day lives is in the hands of the electors, so it is the electors who need to monitor what’s happening with our elections…especially when elected officials – and election officials – can’t always be trusted to act in the interest of the people, and not the ideologies of a controlling party that believes corporations are people. And when I started to look at the big picture, I found that I’m really unsure about the integrity of our elections.
To start, it bothers me that a republican president enacted the law (the Help America Vote Act) that requires a statewide voter registration system (SVRS). I have no problem with the concept in and of itself, but when I look at what happened when just Florida started “cleaning up” its voter list for the 2004 presidential election, I am inclined to believe that the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was enacted to benefit the republican party.
It also bothers me that the people in charge of Wisconsin elections and the creation of the SVRS hired a company (Accenture) that was originally part of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that was engaging in illegal practices with one of the most corrupt and scandalous companies in US history (Enron). While supporters of this contract denied any connection between Accenture and Arthur Andersen during “the Enron Years”, this article on Networkworld.com indicates that Arthur Andersen did, in fact, provide IT consulting services to Enron – and those services would have been provided by the IT consulting branch of Arthur Andersen, Andersen Consulting (aka Accenture).
Incidentally, the company that botched the voter purge list in the above-mentioned Florida voter list clean-up was Accenture.
If that’s not enough, according to the Statement of Work for the original contract, the Project Director was John Fyfe, who worked for Andersen Consulting/Accenture from 1979, through the Enron involvement, and almost right up to the end of Accenture’s contract with Wisconsin in 2007. And then there’s Meg T. McLaughlin, who signed the amended SVRS contract between Accenture and the SEB, who also worked for Arthur Andersen for several years before moving to Accenture. The creation of the Wisconsin SVRS by Accenture, with all its ties to Arthur Andersen, is all just a little too close for my comfort. We’re talking about all of our voter registration AND election information...to include our votes. And reading that Accenture executives and PAC's gave over half a million to republican candidates in 2004 doesn’t make me feel any better.
To make me even more skeptical about our elections’ integrity, despite the massive problems with every single statewide voter registration systems developed by this former Arthur Andersen company – Accenture – the Wisconsin SVRS is still in the hands of people from Accenture.
Oh yes, it is. Connect the dots...
The Contract Sunshine online database shows that COMSYS IT Services and TAPFIN COMSYS currently hold contracts to do work on the SVRS (and the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which is for American citizens overseas). COMSYS has been a long-time partner of Accenture, so seeing that it passed from Accenture to COMSYS isn’t doing much to calm my concerns. And, as was pointed out by a reader in my "What do Enron and Wisconsin elections have in common?" post, David Moser, the Vice President, Technology at TAPFIN, also seems to have gotten his start at Accenture and eventually moved on to a high position at COMSYS. So, I’m really not feeling all that confident that our Statewide Voter Registration System is a well-functioning system that ensures the integrity of our elections. It wasn’t when Accenture held the contract, why should I believe anything has really changed knowing that Accenture people are still in working on it?
I can’t. Can you?