Snopes: Tagg Romney Does Not Own Some Ohio Voting Machines
Some lefty blogs (both reputable and perhaps not so reputable) have been reporting that Tagg Romney owns some of the voting machines that will be used in Ohio for this election. Well it isn’t quite true.
Origins: This somewhat tangled tale of intrigue has Tagg Romney, the son of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as owner of a company that manufactures voting machines which will be used in the upcoming presidential election through the following chain:
After his father’s 2008 presidential campaign ended, Mitt Romney’s son, Tagg Romney, started Solamere Capital, a private equity fund, along with Spencer Zwick, the Romney campaign’s top fund raiser, and a third partner, Eric Scheuermann. Tagg Romney’s parents, Mitt and Ann Romney, contributed $10 million to the firm’s first fund.
According to the New York Times, “unlike many private equity funds that specialize in scouting out companies to invest in directly, Solamere is a ‘fund of funds’ that invests in 22 other private equity funds,” and one of the equity firms with which Solamere Capital has partnered is H.I.G. Capital.
In 2011, H.I.G. Capital made a controlling investment in Hart InterCivic, a national provider of “election voting systems, election management products and services” used in hundreds of voting jurisdictions in several states, including a high-population county in the key swing state of Ohio.
Therefore, Tagg Romney holds a significant ownership interest in the manufacturer of voting machines that will be used in an election determining whether his father will become President of the United States.
However, according to a Solamere spokesman quoted by the Weekly Standard, although Solamere has some shared investments with H.I.G. Capital, the latter firm’s investment in Hart Intercivic is not one of them:
“Not only does Solamere have no direct or indirect interest in this company [Hart Intercivic], Solamere and its partners have no ownership in this company, nor do they have any ownership in nor have made any investments in the fund that invested in the voting machine company,” the spokesman said.
So while Solamere does partner with HIG on investments, none of those investments involve Hart Intercivic. HIG may be simultaneously managing investments with both companies, but the investments are kept separate, as required by law. Put simply, Tagg Romney is not an “investor in a voting machine company.”
Additionally, the potential for vote-tampering in Ohio through manipulation of Hart Intercivic’s equipment is quite low. As the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported, the Hart InterCivic machines used in Ohio don’t record voters’ selections directly — they are merely standalone scanners that tabulate paper ballots, so any close or suspect results could be confirmed through a recount:
Elections officials in Ohio’s Hamilton and Williams counties — the only two of Ohio’s 88 counties that use equipment made by Hart InterCivic — as well as company representatives say there’s no way such meddling could occur.
Both counties use a paper balloting system in which results are tallied by scanners made by Hart InterCivic. All programming of the machines, diagnostic testing, and vote tabulation is done by elections staff in each county and no vote tabulation is done over the Internet, county election board representatives say. The paper ballots are there as backup and can be recounted with Democratic and Republican party representatives on hand.
“There is no truth to the idea that anyone could get into our system and tamper with the results,” said Hamilton County elections board deputy director Sally Krisel.