Scramble For Us$30 Million Contarct At EC

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Greedy Officials Cooking 2016 Election Transmission Job For “Dangerous” Spanish Company…….

Intelligence picked up by The Herald, suggests trouble times ahead, with respect to the 2016 electronic transmission of votes from the 275 constituencies across the country, as a problem-prone Spanish company, is forced down the throat of the Electoral Commission (EC) for the US$30 million procurement contract.

This paper’s preliminary findings are that, the Spanish company by name Scytl, is being pushed on the EC by some of the commission’s staff on the blindside of the Chairperson, Charlotte Kesson Smith Osei.

The EC, is expected to meet with three companies over the contract this week, but officers at the EC are said to be desperately rooting for the Spaniards to get the job for their kickbacks, despite the eminent danger of tension and explosion.

Insiders told The Herald that, the company Scytl, which is vying for the job of transmitting the electoral results together with Smartmatic from Netherlands and Persol; a Ghanaian company, has a poor performance record and has been banned in countries such as, Ecuador and Mexico, while Canada, Norway and Peru, are documented to have suffered firsthand “the Scytl experience”.

Additional information available to The Herald is that, Uganda, after some Due Diligence, recently rejected the Spanish company for its performance rate among other things, such as being financially bankrupt.

The final presentation to the EC on the e-transmission is from August 10-12, and three companies, have been shortlisted.

But insiders argue that, a cursory internet search on the Spanish company, will have denied them an appearance on the shortlist.

One insider familiar with the situation told The Herald under strict confidentiality that “the Chairperson relies on the Technical people for guidance and the Intel is that they are pushing Scytl for their own “obvious” reasons”.

Scytl seems to be developing a knack for controversies, in the same vein as that used in 2014 to lure entrepreneurs like Paul Allen, and investment groups as Vy Capital, in order to tap millions of US$ in investment roundtables.

It is a dangerous combination of incompetency, arrogance and effrontery that made Scytl the center of several scandals around the world, in a very short space of time.
Only in 2014, Canada, Norway, Peru and Ecuador, suffered firsthand “the Scytl experience”.

Below are some interesting articles written about the performance of the Spanish company. They cast a huge shadow of doubt on the company and raises questions, about why and how they were shortlisted for the Ghanaian job.

Scytl in Ecuador and Mexico: Is it the same screenplay?
In 2015 it is now Mexico´s turn. The National Electoral Commission (INE) contracted this Spanish company last September 30th, 2014 to supply an online accounting system for political parties, made up of three modules: Accounting, Controlling and Transparency.

However, on December 14th alarms went off, as Scytl did not submit the first module of the accounting system on time. Since then, all facts are remarkably similar to what happened a year ago during Ecuador´s sectional elections. On that occasion Scytl failed in its attempt to deliver electoral results on time. It was not about a delay of hours, but of weeks that took Syctl to deliver the results expected that very election evening.

After a whole month of delay in delivering the results in Ecuador, the noncompliance with obligations by Syctl was very evident. In spite of that, the company refused to accept its failures and blamed the Ecuadorian Electoral Commission. To date, the Syctl website refers to the Ecuadorian experience as a total success.

Last week, in light of the early termination of the Service Contract by Mexico, the company reacted similarly: washing its hands.

But coincidences do not end with a simple and binding failure of the service. A month after the elections, the Ecuadorian National Electoral Commission (CNE) took action on this matter and Syctl´s Contract was declared null and void. The contract was unilaterally terminated and the corresponding warranty charges were applied.

Through its spokesman, the company´s CEO Pere Valles, expressed his surprise at the Ecuadorian Government procedure and warned of legal actions. But is it a coincidence, or is there a modus operandi here?

Precisely this week, after INE´s announcement, Pere Valles was surprised and launched a threat to the Mexican authorities.
In Ecuador (2014), much to the amazement of public opinion, Valles accused Domingo Paredes —then the President of the Ecuadorian Electoral Commission— of having an arrangement with another contractor.

“We believe this (the decision) reflects the CNE President´s interest in working with another contractor” said Scytl CEO to EFE
On this occasion and during the MVS news broadcast of Carmen Aristegui, Scytl insinuated that the early termination of the Contract by INE was political in nature.

Time will pass and we will see. INE defends itself giving details on the Contract and explaining why the early termination. As yet, this Scytl threat seems to be just a simple intimidation to the electoral body, in an effort to preserve its reputation in other places, where this story —which is turning into a ritornello— may not make it to the news.

“SCYTL compromises credibility of the voting technology industry”
Starting with the first entries of this blog some 4 years ago, we have called for the implementation of technologies that improve how elections are conducted. We do this based on our full conviction that e-voting, and the adoption of other technologies, represent the present and the future of safer and more transparent voting.

Now well, this certainty is not just an act of faith. It is grounded on our following of successful electoral projects around the globe, which have proven more efficient thanks to the application of technology.

We understand that carrying out an election is a mission-critical project, i.e. it implies coordinating thousands of variables and tasks that have to work perfectly during a very brief period of time. A civil registration project, for instance, opens up a window of possibilities (and time) that a single-day election does not. Hence, we admit that e-voting being a young industry, failures may happen. For this same reason, this blog has not been silent when a provider makes a mistake. Why? Because every blunder must be the object of a thorough analysis to turn it into a nurturing experience. However, when the same provider has a history of failures, and its mistakes cause discouragement and distress to a population, these should not be just mentioned, but denounced.

Scytl’s latest project was in Ecuador, where the company was awarded a multimillion contract in 2013 for the vote processing, automated tally and publication of electoral results for the country’s sectional elections, which took place on February 23rd 2014. Eight days after Election Day, Scytl stated there were problems in the system and delays in the processing of the electoral records. Authorities of the National Electoral Council, unable to announce official results, asked the media not to declare any candidate as a winner, and notified that in case of a total failure by the company an adequate judicial procedure would ensue, declaring the company to be a “defaulted contractor” and asking for monetary compensation.

The Spanish multinational company has publicly accepted their faults in Ecuador, something which did not happen in either the United States or Canada. Osman Loaiza, Scytl’s Operations Director, commented on “a failure they [the technicians] had when staring the process on Election Day, which set us back for a while until we could process the electoral records”, while publicly accepting that the system developed by his company for Ecuador was the source of the delay.

But failures of this company date from years ago. In 2008, the Florida State Department commissioned a review of the Internet voting system developed by the Spanish company Scytl. The team was made up by independent experts from Florida State University. In their report, despite of what they considered to be an advance in the use of encryption and of robust components, three vulnerabilities were found: voters could not even cast their votes within the system; electoral results that did not accurately reflect the voters’ will; and the disclosure of confidential election, i.e. the voter’s choices.

In 2010, the same Internet voting system provided by Scytl and implemented in Washington (US) was hacked; and during the Republican primaries in South Carolina in that same year, there were several reports of irregularities related to the Spanish company’s system. Moreover, the most questioned aspect was the fact that the electoral authorities admittedly could determine who a citizen had voted for.

In 2012, in Canada, an online attack delayed the results for the New Democratic party and prevented several delegates from casting their votes. Scytl explained that the attack was directed at the party’s website, and that their system was never compromised. However, analysts recommended clients to protect the URL of the website where the votes were going to be cast; it was precisely this what that Canadian party had failed to do, and Scytl did not warn them either. “I’m not going to say it’s a rookie mistake, but it’s something that if you’re expecting a lot of people to watch an event or be involved in an event, it’s only those people that are involved in it that you want to actually participate … And it’s always been a rule that we have that we don’t allow the client to put a link on their website to the voting system because anyone who knows they’re having an election would simply visit their site and then pick up that information from there”, explained Intelivote’s Dean Smith.

That same year, during the most contended elections in the recent history of the United States, the number of absentee ballot requests by the military was strangely lower than in the 2008 elections. The US Department of Defense, which had employed Scytl since 2010, was subjected to strong criticism due to reports that showed an exponential decrease in members of the military that had received their proper absentee ballot requests. Scytl was the provider for the majority of states in that election.

Although some variables may always be compromised during an election, it is important for the provider of any voting system to know how to deal adequately with each incident that may arise. This is not about every single voting machine working perfectly; when deploying thousands voting machines, the laws of probability state that some of them can and will malfunction. However, when serious or massive incidents affect an election as a whole, the industry must take notice and work to ensure that similar incidents are not repeated. The vote is something too precious to be trusted to irresponsible, inexperienced hands.
More To come!

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