Toronto company finds itself at the centre of Trump's unfounded vote fraud allegations

·6 min read
In this Sept. 16, 2019 file photo, an election official demonstrates the Dominion Voting System product that the U.S. state of Georgia uses for elections. (John Bazemore/AP Photo.)
In this Sept. 16, 2019 file photo, an election official demonstrates the Dominion Voting System product that the U.S. state of Georgia uses for elections. (John Bazemore/AP Photo.)

Dominion Voting Systems, an elections technology company founded in Toronto, is being targeted by U.S. President Donald Trump and his allies as they claim the recent presidential election results were rigged by the firm — claims the company says are entirely baseless.

Trump has sent a series of tweets about Dominion in the days since president-elect Joe Biden secured the 270 electoral votes needed to take the Oval Office.

The outgoing president has called the operation — which also has U.S. offices in Denver, Colorado — a "radical left" company with a "bad reputation" that supplies states with "bum equipment."

He claims the company's products are "not good or secure" and were manipulated by Democrats and other unnamed bad actors to swing the election for Biden.

The firm supplies voting and tabulating equipment to counties in 28 states and Puerto Rico — machines that are used to count the lengthy U.S. ballots. Dominion equipment was in use in four states that proved to be critical to the end result: Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Georgia.

But this isn't the first time that Dominion's machines have been widely used during a U.S. election. The company, which is the dominant player in the election technology sector, counted 70 million votes in more than 1,600 jurisdictions in the 2016 presidential election that Trump won, according to data compiled by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Dominion machines counted ballots in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — states Trump narrowly carried in that contest.

Trump seized on a Tuesday social media post from Elections Canada which said the Dominion voting machines in question are not used for federal elections in this country. He tried to use the Elections Canada statement to bolster his claim that there's something wrong with how the voting company does business.

"Elections Canada does not use Dominion Voting Systems. We use paper ballots counted by hand in front of scrutineers and have never used voting machines or electronic tabulators to count votes in our 100-year history," Elections Canada, an independent federal agency, said on Twitter.

"THIS SAYS IT ALL," Trump tweeted in response.

A spokesperson for Elections Canada said the tweet was sent because its social media platforms have been flooded with questions about the security of the voting system here — and it was not intended to be a comment on Dominion.

"Our message on Twitter was meant to respond to the large number of questions we had received from people who mistakenly believed we use automated tabulating systems in federal elections. It shouldn't be construed as anything other than that," Natasha Gauthier said in a statement to CBC News.

U.S. voters pick candidates for dozens of federal, state, county and local political offices — and, in some states, judgeships — and often vote on amendments to state constitutions in each election cycle.

As a result, American ballots can be unwieldy and the counting process there is much more complex than what Elections Canada grapples with during a federal election.

Canadian voters simply mark an "x" next to the name of their preferred candidate for Parliament. Dominion's equipment makes tabulating the results for all the disparate offices on the U.S. ballot easier to do.

Trump's anti-Dominion rhetoric has been amplified by a number of his supporters on social media making unfounded claims that Dominion — which was founded by Canadian businessman and Queen's Diamond Jubilee recipient John Poulos — has ties to socialist Venezuela and that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's family and the Clinton Global Initiative have ownership stakes.

Dominion made a one-time philanthropic commitment at a Clinton Global Initiative meeting in 2014, but the Clinton Foundation has no stake or involvement in Dominion's operations, the nonprofit told The Associated Press. A former aide to Pelosi has represented Dominion as a lobbyist — but so have lobbyists who worked for Republicans.

Poulos, a University of Toronto electrical engineering graduate, started the company with partner James Hoover after the 2000 U.S. presidential election debacle — when paper ballot results from Florida were contested for weeks.

"I co-founded the company in 2003 on three basic pillars: security, accessibility and transparency. We continue to be committed to these founding principles and delivering best-in-class solutions for secure, transparent and accessible elections. The voting systems that we produce provide high assurance that election outcomes are accurately and reliably tallied," Poulois said in a written statement to the U.S. Congress in January.

'Categorically false'

Trump also has claimed — again, with no evidence — that states that use Dominion's machines shifted tens of thousands of Trump votes to the Biden column in an effort to swing the election.

"This Election was Rigged, from Dominion all the way up & down!" he tweeted on Nov. 13."941,000 TRUMP VOTES DELETED. STATES USING DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS SWITCHED 435,000 VOTES FROM TRUMP TO BIDEN."

"Now it is learned that the horrendous Dominion Voting System was used in Arizona (and big in Nevada). No wonder the result was a very close loss!" he said.

While the company has been criticized for past missteps — a technical error with tabulator machines used in the 2014 New Brunswick election count delayed results for hours — the company says the claim that it can switch votes is "categorically false."

"Dominion does not have the ability to review votes in real time as they are submitted," the company said. "No credible reports or evidence of any software issues exist."

John Bazemore/AP Photo
John Bazemore/AP Photo

The company issued a lengthy statement Tuesday to dispel some of the falsehoods about its operations.

"Claims that 941,000 votes for President Trump in Pennsylvania were deleted are impossible," the company said.

"The fourteen counties using Dominion systems collectively produced 1.3 million votes, representing a voter turnout of 76 per cent. Fifty-two percent of those votes went to President Trump, amounting to 676,000 votes processed for the President in Pennsylvania using company systems."

The company said counting errors in some states where its technology is used can be attributed to human error. An election audit in Georgia found 2,631 uncounted ballots in Floyd County, something Gabriel Sterling, the state's voting system manager, said was "an amazing blunder" but not one carried out by Dominion.

The U.S. intelligence community has backed Dominion's assertion that the ballot counting process has been secure and that the results should be trusted.

The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said last week it has found "no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised."

The agency confirmed that it is not possible for a bad actor to change election results without detection.

Chris Krebs, a Trump appointee and the director of this agency, called the 2020 election "the most secure in American history."

Trump fired Krebs on Tuesday.