When the North Carolina State Board of Elections asked the voting machine companies whose products were used in state elections who owned those companies, both Election Systems & Software and Hart Intercivic claimed that the answers to the question were proprietary, confidential trade secrets that would devalue their companies if they were divulged.
The Board made them come clean, but even the list of owners is opaque, as the companies are largely owned by shell companies owned by other shell companies. But that's OK: I'm sure that entrusting the very foundations of democracies to firms whose ownership structure is a grifty pyramid-scheme that resembles a mafia money-laundry will be just fine.
Even with the release of these details, there's still plenty of secrecy to go around. Election security advocate Lynn Berstein says the ownership of voting machine companies is a deliberate, multi-layered mess designed to obscure who's running these shops — and to possibly hide a bunch of stuff that looks like corruption, fraud, or general financial malfeasance.
One of ES&S's subsidiaries (and there are at least 39 of those) — Meritage Homes Corp. — shuffled some securities ownership the same day the North Carolina election board asked it to provide information about the company's ownership. Maybe it's a coincidence. Or maybe ES&S was offloading a politically-inconvenient owner. Whatever the case is, it certainly doesn't look good.
Voting Machine Makers Claim The Names Of The Entities That Own Them Are Trade Secrets [Tim Cushing/Techdirt]