Seven-hundred and fifty towns, cities, counties and unions throughout New England and New York share one election vendor. LHS Associates, LLC.
Company owner John Silvestro justifiably claims that LHS is the “largest provider of election services in the Northeastern US.” As a matter of fact, according to Black Box Voting, LHS “programs 81% of the election in New Hampshire, 100% in Connecticut, almost all of Massachusetts and most of Vermont.”
We wanted to know more about this election vendor that has received so much business from election officials in the Northeast. Surely the company delivers excellent product and services given how popular it is … right? Maybe not.
When you go to their website, you can view their products, which oddly include dog and cat tags!
LHS Election Products
This video, published in 2008, shows how easy it would be for an insider — like a bribed employee, for example — to change vote tallies on a Diebold memory card. These are the exact cards programmed and sold by LHS.
The memory card in the video was programmed by Finnish computer programmer Harri Hursti (in conjunction with Black Box Voting).
After making sure the machine was clear (showing no votes had been cast yet), the tester runs 8 total ballots through the scanner — 6 “no” votes and 2 “yes” votes. The scanner correctly tallied the total number of ballots, showing 8 ballots had been run through the scanner. But, as you’ll see at 5:28, the print-out shows something quite different.
Instead of correctly showing 2 “yes” votes, it shows only one. Instead of showing 6 “no” votes, it shows seven.
How Does LHS Fair as an Election Company?
LHS has had other difficulties over the years.
In 2016, printing company Bradford and Bigelow was strongly considering a lawsuit against the state of Massachusetts for forcing them to reprint 3.4 million ballots due to errors caused by LHS’s Accuvote machines. Additionally, Bradford and Bigelow claimed that LHS had approved the ballots, further absolving Bradford and Bigelow of responsibility for the necessary reprint.
More recently, LHS came under fire in Salem, NH for a March 2018 election where four out of five polling locations “received ballots with incorrect voting instructions on election day.” Town Clerk, Susan Wall, said that she “and the local company that prepares their election materials, LHS Associates, are still trying to determine how the mistake occurred.”
Election Vendor Trouble-shooting
We also looked at the election-day tabular procedure booklet LHS gave to the state of Vermont.
After one page listing the 10 steps required to get the machines up-and-running, and a clear warning against allowing voters to roam the building before elections officially begin, there are five pages trouble-shooting a myriad of problems that could arise with their machines.
For example, what do you do if a ballot is rejected by the tabulator? Well, that depends on what the LCD screen is telling you. There are four possibilities:
- “Ballot not read, please re-insert.”
- “Blank voted card.”
- “Over voted race.”
- “Invalid ballot, see official.”
And each of these possibilities have its own set of instructions. For example, if you see “Invalid ballot, see official,” this is what LHS tells you to do:
But even the stray mark causing an “invalid ballot” error isn’t quite as distressing as this tidbit. If a memory card or tabulator malfunctions:
A new memory card — installed by the private vendor in the middle of an election? Given what we saw Harri Hurski do with one of those memory cards, this seems like an extremely bad idea.
Where’s the Competition?
Another extremely bad idea is having a single, private vendor responsible for so many elections in one region. What are these states thinking?
Regardless of the performance (or lack thereof) of the election vendor in question, it makes no sense that there is zero competition for election vendor contracts across the New England states.
In their autonomy to run elections, why aren’t all states instituting something like The Competition in Contracting Act (CICA), a federal regulation that requires government entities to enter into contracts only after “full and open competition through the use of competitive procedures”?
If states want to maintain their election autonomy, it is well beyond time that they pro-actively institute standards of accountability for themselves and their election vendors.
Written by Unhackthevote
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