The Supervisor of Election, as defined by Florida statutes, is the custodian of all election documents and records, from voter registration to candidate filings and election results. So, you can imagine my surprise when a senior election office official acknowledged that while they maintain custody of the Microsoft SQL Server database where all votes are recorded, no one in the office can log into the database or query its data.
Election Systems & Software, the company who owns the election management system software the county uses, refuses to give them a user account. The company says it is a preventative measure to reduce the risk of record tampering, whether intentionally or accidentally. ES&S also issued a mob-like warning: if the election office accesses the database through a backdoor, or other means, the company will automatically revoke all results pending certification and terminate the contract immediately. [...]
ES&S clients find themselves locked into a system and contract that equates secrecy with security and views data sharing as a high risk threat. What ES&S is doing is nothing short of unethical and runs counter to industry practices regarding data collection systems.
For years, the company has hidden behind the veil of proprietary rights and patents, when asked to share even the most basic components of their software. But a software company can't have proprietary rights to a user's data, and any patented rights surely do not extend to a user's data.
ES&S is based in Omaha, Nebraska and has nearly 500 employees. The company is owned by the McClatchy Group, a private equity firm, which means their financial records aren't public. Conservative estimates say the company controls nearly 50% of the U.S. election system market, which equates to approximately 70 million votes processed using any combination of the company's hardware and software.
The company has a well-earned reputation for routinely filing lawsuits against competitors and election officials when they don't win contracts or has them taken away. They have even gone so far as to sue voting jurisdictions and groups advocating for greater election security.
Not looking to push the issue or make any enemies, Wolf dropped the reporting project and focused on other areas.
County Election Office Denied Access to Election Database