Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is conducting an anti-trust investigation of a voting-machine company merger that would create a near-monopoly over the levers of democracy in Florida and much of the United States.
McCollum's office has issued at least six subpoenas covering every major voting-machine company as part of a civil investigation of Election Systems & Software's $5 million acquisition of Diebold Inc.'s elections division — a merger that would give a private company too much power over the machines used to castvotes, voting-rights groups say.
"Our office engaged in this issue because anti-competitive behavior can seriously harm consumers," McCollum said in a written statement. "Competitive behavior encourages the best products be available to consumers, including technology, particularly in a market as sensitive as the voting systems market."
Under Florida's 1980 anti-trust law, McCollum could persuade a court to levy fines against ES&S or prevent the company from operating in the state. By next year, the company is expected to be the exclusive provider of voting machines and services in 65 of the 67 counties in Florida, the nation's most important swing state.
That means, under the acquisition announced Sept. 2, ES&S will provide election services to 92 percent of Florida's 11.2 million voters.
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