This morning we learn that Diebold have sold off their voting-machine business to ES&S, their main competitor. Between them Diebold and ES&S control around two-thirds of the US voting market.
Ever since the bad news about Diebold started rolling in a few years ago, they’ve been trying to ditch their voting unit. Security scares aren’t good for business when your main product is ‘secure’ cash machines and such like.
Having failed to find a seller they renamed their voting unit to ‘Premier Election Solutions’ in the hope that would at least protect them from some of the, ahem, reputational issues. How or why they now managed to get ES&S to purchase the unit know is not clear, but the tiny $5 million price tag must have been attractive.
Diebold expect to book a loss of $45 to 55 million on the deal, not exactly a marvellous return. Both Diebold’s and ES&S’ voting systems units were created by the Urosevich brothers so there’s some kind of closure in this transaction bringing the units together.
ES&S were one of the suppliers in the 2007 UK pilots including South Bucks which had significant problems and delays with their count.
In papers on the 2007 pilots released under the Freedom of Information act to the Open Rights Group, it was clear that the government wanted to avoid using Diebold at all costs because of the negative PR associated with them. If pilots are to happen again (which thankfully I think is unlikely) will ES&S be avoided too thanks to this acquisition?
This deal will represent significant consolidation in the voting market and unhealthy control in one company. I hope the US authorities carefully examine this deal, but if not it will be another signal to the rest of the world not to follow in their foot-steps when it comes to voting.
NY Times Report: “Diebold sells its voting machine unit to competitor”