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Great, powerful advocates of faith-based electronic voting

Will "push and pray" voting prevail in 2012? The private companies behind the curtain: The great and powerful advocates of faith-based electronic voting

By Bob Fitrakis
April 11, 2012

In this election year, the most important companies to watch are two you've probably never heard of -- Smartech and Triad.

In the 2004 presidential election, Averbeck worked closely with the late Michael Connell, the CEO of New Media Communications. Connell was Karl Rove's IT guru before his untimely death in a suspicious plane crash. As the FreePress.org has previously reported, then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell contracted with Averbeck to provide back-up computer services to report Ohio's official election results.

Ohio Secretary of State's office claimed they were unable to tabulate Ohio's votes within the state in real time because their computers had a supposed "denial of service" attack in the wee hours of the morning after the 2004 Election Day. Vote tabulations were then shifted to the Old Pioneer Bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee where Averbeck ran his internet service company Smartech. (See New court filing reveals how the 2004 Ohio presidential election was hacked)

Averbeck's Airnet Group, Inc., doing business as Smartech, is a key company in the private, well-connected Republican world of electronic election systems. According to Airnet Group's website it is a "...a leading of advanced Internet hosting, network and application solutions for business, delivery services via secure state-of-the-art Internet Data Centers."

Airnet started as a staffing firm in 1994. The Chattanooga Times Free Press quotes Averbeck as saying he "...backed into political work" when he was hired to solve the Republican National Committee's internet problems in the 2000 presidential election.

During the 2004 presidential election, Averbeck told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that his company had dedicated six web servers to handle his political business and was "negotiating for more broadband capacity to handle the growing demand for electronic political information." In August 2004, Smartech hosted the Republican National Convention's website as well as the Bush-Cheney campaign website - www.georgewbush.com.

The GOP paid Smartech $2.3 million in the 2004 election cycle, according to SourceWatch.

Prior to emerging as owner of the premier internet hosting company for Republicans in the United States, Averbeck had been affiliated with Pathway Press, the publishing arm of the Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee. "Pathway provides award-winning magazines, books, and innovative discipleship curriculum materials for the Church of God and to the wider Evangelical and Pentecostal community," according to its website.

In 2006, Smartech earned even more money, $3.3 million, from the Republican Party.

Averbeck and Connell not only teamed up in Ohio during the controversial 2004 election in Ohio, but also worked with notorious political operative Paul J. Manafort on the 2004 campaign of Viktor Yanukovych in the Ukraine. The U.S. State Department accused Yanukovych's campaign of rigging that election. Only a massive outcry by the Ukrainian people reversed those election results.

In 2010, with Connell deceased, Averbeck and Manafort once again worked on Yanukovich's campaign. Allegations of election rigging emerged once again. This time, despite the charges of an election fix, Yanukovich was declared the winner.

While Connell's New Media designed the Ohio election reporting system in 2004, Smartech hosted the back-up vote tabulation. The maintenance on the electronic voting machine maintenance in Ohio was done by primarily by a third secretive right-wing company, Triad. The Rapp family owns Triad Governmental Systems, also known as Triad GSI and the following companies: Rapp Systems, Corp.; Psephos Corp.; and Odyssey Online.

Connell, Averbeck and the Rapps -- or New Media, Smartech and Triad -- were all heavily committed to the Right-to-Life movement and far-right Republican politics.

The Rapp family, led by patriarch Tod A. Rapp of Xenia, Ohio, emerged in the public eye in 2000 after it was revealed that Psephos Corp. designed the infamous butterfly ballot in Florida. Tod Rapp started his first company, Rap Systems Corp. in 1979. In 1983, Tod Rapp and David E. Snoddy incorporated Triad Governmental Systems, Inc. Its stated purpose was "...to develop, promote, sell, distribute, market and service computer systems, software, and hardware and to consult with federal, state and local government authorities and private industry."

During the recount of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, allegations were made that the Rapp family was aiding in rigging the recount for George W. Bush. Triad Governmental Systems maintained the computers in 44 of Ohio's 88 counties, mainly in southern rural counties. In the last statewide election, public records indicate that Triad now services the computers in 57 of the 88 counties. Following their notoriety in the 2004 elections, Triad Governmental Systems started marketing itself as Triad GSI.

The Rapp family is well-known in the Greene County Right to Life movement. In Triad GSI's website, the company says "It is our desire to develop the highest quality election software and hardware systems available in the elections business."

In September 2011, Averbeck announced he was planning to build new data centers in Ohio and California but is committed to staying in his highly secured site in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Averbeck, the Rapp family, Smartech and Triad -- these are the private, far-Christian Right companies that will be counting the vote on Election Day 2012 in the Buckeye State.

ENDS

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