(US) 12/09 - IT'S OFFICIAL: US DEPT. OF JUSTICE and 14 STATES LAUNCH ANTI-TRUST PROBE OF ES&S/DIEBOLD ACQUISITION - Black Box Voting lodged a formal 21-page complaint with the U.S. Dept. of Justice in September, 2009 regarding the acquisition of Diebold's elections division by ES&S, on the grounds that the deal violates the Clayton Act. The United States Dept. of Justice has now formally opened an investigation. Here is our complaint:

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In addition, we provided the USDOJ with legal citations indicating that acquisitions which violate antitrust laws can be rolled back up to two years after the acquisition goes through.

Our complaint provided hard-to-obtain details on jurisdiction by jurisdiction voting machine purchases, proving overconcentration of the industry with the Herfindahl Index, used by the USDOJ to ascertain whether acquisitions create an anticompetitive marketplace. We also documented numerous specific instances of past anti-competitive behavior and unfair practices.

ES&S officials lied to county election officials, claiming the deal wasn't subject to anti-trust laws because it was too small. While it did fly under the radar because the dollar amount evaded an automatic hold on the acquisition, the provision invoking a hold does not have any impact on whether the deal is, ultimately, a violation of anti-trust laws.

Black Box Voting received a letter from the US Dept. of Justice last month indicating that they were paying attention to our complaint, and indicating intent to investigate providing that their initial inquiries corroborated the anti-competitive practices. (And how could they not?)

Reuters News just announced that the US DoJ and 14 individual states have launched formal antitrust investigations into the acquisition of Diebold's Premier Election Solutions by Election Systems & Software (ES&S).

Here is the article:

Reuters - Dec. 19, 2009

U.S. opens probe of Diebold unit sale -report | Reuters

U.S. opens probe of Diebold unit sale

CHICAGO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice and 14 states have opened investigations into the sale of Diebold Inc's (DBD.N) voting machines business to Election Systems & Software that could lead to the unwinding of the September sale, the New York Post said on Saturday.

The deal was too small to require government approval at the time, but it gave ES&S a 70 percent share of the voting machine mark...