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Scytl, the foreign-headquartered company that recently purchased the leading U.S. electronic voting firm, wants the public to know it can be trusted in the election process.

To back its claim, Scytl issued a press release last week boasting that the company continues to receive “industry expert recognition” for its election technology breakthroughs.

WND has learned the firm vouching for Scytl has links to billionaire activist George Soros.

WND recently reported Scyrl acquired the software division of a non-profit election organization tied to Soros’ Open Society Institute.

WND also reported Scytl announced its technology will be deployed at more U.S. jurisdictions ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

Now the company has issued a press release announcing Scytl “continues receiving electoral and industry expert recognition for its end-to-end election modernization technology and electoral roadmap implementation approach from organizations such as IDC, Ovum and ACEEEO.”

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Ovum is a technology advisory firm.

Scytl’s release further quotes Nishant Shah, research analyst at Ovum.

Shah authored a recent report, “On the Radar,” that hailed Scytl’s election offerings.

The Scytl release quoted Shah stating: “We believe Scytl’s wide variety of offerings, investment into certifications, and emphasis on security, auditing, and testing position the company as a dominant provider in election modernization.”

Shah’s biography page at Ovum’s website says he facilitated large-scale, public-private partnerships in international health for the Global Business Coalition. He also worked with the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS issues.

Soros is the Global Business Coalition’s founding supporter.

Shah’s bio further notes the analyst provided management services support to technology investees of the Acumen Fund in Pakistan. Soros’ daughter, Andrea Soros Colombel, serves on Acumen’s board. She is also a member of the global board of Soros’s Open Society Foundation.

Another Ovum author is Margaret Goldberg. Her Ovum bio notes that prior to joining the firm, she interned for three years at the Soros Economic Development Fund.

In January 2012, Sctyl, based in Barcelona, Spain, acquired 100 percent of SOE Software, the leading software provider of election management solutions in the U.S. The sale garnered national attention

Soros ties

In May, as WND reported, Scytl acquired the software division of a non-profit election organization tied to George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

Scytl purchased 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 said: “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.”

Gov4U is currently partnered with Soros’ Open Society to support and develop a group called the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness.

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 boasts that with Open Society Institute funds it conducted a political leadership training series for Romanian activists to “bring tangible improvements to their communities.”

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.

WND found that NDI is also listed as the only U.S.-associated organization of Socialists International, the world’s largest socialist umbrella group.

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

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 its pollbook.

Scytl’s ePollBook 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 epollbook 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 midterms 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.

With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott.

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