The foreign-headquartered company that recently purchased the leading U.S. electronic voting firm has just announced the acquisition of the software division of a non-profit election organization tied to George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
SCYTL said it is purchasing the software division of Gov2U, described as a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and promoting the use of technology in the fields of governance and democracy.
A SCYTL press release says: “Gov2U created its software division in 2004 and, since then, it has developed a wide array of innovative award-winning eDemocracy solutions that have been implemented in multiple countries across Europe, Africa and America at the local, regional and federal government levels.”
The Spain-based company says the “main purpose of these tools is to engage citizens in participatory processes through the use of online and offline platforms, bringing more transparency and legitimacy to decision-making processes.”
The group runs a website, OpeningParliament.org, which says it is a forum “intended to help connect the world’s civic organizations engaged in monitoring, supporting and opening up their countries’ parliaments and legislative institutions.”
Gov4U, meanwhile, has eight partners of its own listed on its website, including the Soros-funded and partnered National Democratic Institute, or NDI.
Aside from receiving financial support for Soros, NDI has co-hosted scores of events along with Soros’ Open Society. The two groups work closely together.
NDI and the Open Society, for example, worked together to push for electoral and legislative reform in Romania.
NDI describes itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to establish and strengthen political and civic organizations, safeguard elections and promote citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.
NDI previously stated it was founded to draw on the traditions of the U.S. Democratic Party.
NDI was originally created by the federally funded National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, which itself founded joint NDI projects with the Open Society. Another NDI financial backer is the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.
U.S. elections, national security concerns
In January 2012, SCYTL, based in Barcelona, acquired 100 percent of SOE Software, the leading software provider of election management solutions in the United States. The sale garnered national attention after it was spotlighted by the popular Drudge Report.
The official press release announcing the acquisition noted that SCYTL is a portfolio company of leading international venture capital funds Nauta Capital, Balderton Capital and Spinnaker.
With the purchase of SOE Software, SCYTL increased its involvement in the U.S. elections process. SOE Software boasts a strong U.S. presence, providing results in more than 900 jurisdictions.
In 2009, SCYTL formally registered with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission as the first Internet voting manufacturer in the U.S. under the EAC Voting System Testing and Certification Program.
Also that year, SCYTL entered into an agreement with another firm, Hart InterCivic, to jointly market a flexible and secure electronic pollbook purportedly to allow U.S. election officials and poll workers to manage the electoral roll on Election Day in an efficient and convenient manner.
SCYTL’s ePollBookTM already has replaced the paper precinct roster in Washington, D.C.
In the 2012 presidential election, SCYTL was contracted by the states of New York, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Mississippi to provide the overseas ballots.
During the midterm elections in November 2010, SCYTL successfully carried out electoral modernization projects in 14 states. The company boasted that a “great variety” of SCYTL’s technologies were involved in the projects, including an online platform for the delivery of blank ballots to overseas voters, an Internet voting platform and e-pollbook software to manage the electoral roll at the polling stations.
The states that used SCYTL’s technologies during the midterms were New York, Texas, Washington, California, Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Just prior to the midterm’s however, the new electronic voting system in Washington, D.C., was hacked.
As a program security trial, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics reportedly encouraged outside parties to find flaws in its new online balloting system. A group of University of Michigan students then hacked into the site and commanded it to play the school’s fight song upon casting a vote.
It’s not the first time SCYTL’S systems have been called into question.
Voter Action, an advocacy group that seeks elections integrity in the U.S., sent a lengthy complaint to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission in April 2010 charging the integration of SCYTL systems “raises national security concerns.”
“Foreign governments may also seek to undermine the national security interests of the United States, either directly or through other organizations,” Voter Action charged.
The document notes that SCYTL was founded in 2001 as a spinoff from a research group at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, which was partially funded by the Spanish government’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
Along with Barcelona, SCYTL has offices in Washington, D.C., Singapore, Bratislava and Athens.
Project Vote noted that in 2008, the Florida Department of State commissioned a review of SCYTL’s remote voting software and concluded in part that:
The system is vulnerable to attack from insiders.
In a worst case scenario, the software could lead to 1) voters being unable to cast votes; 2) an election that does not accurately reflect the will of the voters; and 3) possible disclosure of confidential information, such as the votes cast by individual voters.
The system may be subject to attacks that could compromise the integrity of the votes cast.
Voting through Google, Apple?
As WND reported, in May 2012, the company announced the successful implementation of technology that allows ballots to be cast using Google and Apple smart phones and tablet computers.
SCYTL unveiled a platform that it says encrypts each individual ballot on a voter’s Google or Apple mobile device before the ballot is then transmitted to an electronic voting system.
Using this technology, “Scytl is now able to guarantee end-to-end security – from the voter to the final tally – not only for computer-based online voting but also for mobile voting,” stated a press release by the company.
“By leveraging its pioneering security technology with Google and Apple’s mobile device platforms, Scytl has become the premier election technology provider to offer an online voting system that guarantees the highest standards in terms of both voter privacy and ballot integrity both on personal computers and mobile devices,” said Gabriel Dos Santos, Scytl’s vice president of software engineering.
The U.S. currently does not utilize voting platforms using mobile devices. SCYTL sees such methods as the future of electronic voting.