Dominion Voting Systems CEO speaks out against conspiracy theories
Despite a rash of unsubstantiated claims lobbed against his company, the CEO of Dominion Voting Systems, John Poulos, has remained largely silent. That changed Sunday night on 60 Minutes when Poulos sat down with Anderson Cooper, saying irreparable damage has been done to his company and his employees.
"People have been put into danger. Their families have been put into danger. Their lives have been upended and all because of lies," Poulos said. "It was a very clear calculation that they knew they were lies. And they were repeating them and endorsing them."
"It's important to you people admit what they said was wrong?" Cooper asked.
"It's important to me. It's important to all the people whose families have been impacted by this. Anderson, my kids still are not allowed to get any package from the front door until we verify that it's actually from a trusted sender," Poulos said.
Days after the 2020 presidential election, lawyers supporting then-President Donald Trump, including Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, began spreading unsubstantiated claims that Dominion Voting Systems, an American company, had rigged the election. They said Dominion was backed by Venezuela and that its machines and software switched millions of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
They never showed any evidence, but that didn't stop pro-Trump attorneys from making baseless claims, or conservative news networks from giving them plenty of airtime.
Poulos went through a number of their claims with Cooper, dismissing each one.
"Were you associated with the late Hugo Chavez?" Cooper asked.
"Absolutely not," Poulos said.
"Do you use a Venezuelan company's software that's been used to steal elections in other countries?" Cooper asked.
"Absolutely not," Poulos said. "Anderson, I can, I can cut all of this short. We were founded in Toronto, which is where my family was from. And there's nothing to do with Venezuela."
"Can you flip votes in the computer system?" Cooper asked. "Can you add votes that did not exist?"
"Absolutely not," Poulos again responded.
President Trump first mentioned Dominion in a tweet on November 12, 2020, and recorded a video a few weeks later, posted on Facebook, in which he said: "We have a company that's very suspect. Its name is Dominion. With the turn of a dial or the change of a chip, you could press a button for Trump and the vote goes to Biden. What kind of a system is this? We have to go to paper. Maybe it takes longer. But the only secure system is paper."
"We do have paper ballots," Poulos said. "What the machines do is they count those paper ballots-- in a way that makes it very easy for people to verify after the fact through the means of audits and recounts."
Dominion makes two types of machines. One is called a ballot marker. It's a touch screen device that a voter can use to mark their choices and then print the ballot. The second machine is a scanner that reads that paper ballot, counts the vote and immediately stores the ballot securely.
"A voter takes a paper ballot," Poulos said. "They've made their marks however they make their marks depending on the jurisdiction. As they deposit it into the ballot box, it goes through a digital scanner and then drops into the ballot box. So how do you hack a paper ballot?"
He showed Cooper how the machines work.
"This is the scanner that sits atop a locked and sealed ballot box," Poulos said. "This is how they cast their ballot, goes through scanner and now we have an image of the ballot that we just cast, and we have the paper ballot that is used for recounts."
Poulos said watching the presidential recounts in Florida in 2000, with arguments over hanging chads, got him interested in improving how paper ballots were marked and counted. He was an engineer working at a startup in Silicon Valley and began looking at ways to make it easier to recount paper ballots and to help people with disabilities vote without assistance.
"Our goal was to allow any voter to make their marks on a paper ballot in a very clear, unambiguous way," Poulos said, "regardless of physical ability."
Now, he says, he and his company are the targets of lies, threats and harassment.
"Do you ever think to yourself," Cooper asked, "'I got into this to help paraplegics and blind people vote more easily and look what's happened?'"
"I think about it all the time," Poulos said.
Dominion has filed eight lawsuits seeking more than $10 billion in damages against Fox News, and other networks, corporations and individuals.
In a statement to 60 Minutes, Fox said it's confident it will prevail in the Dominion litigation, citing protections of the First Amendment. Fox also say it was reporting on newsworthy allegations by then-President Trump, and that it aired segments fact-checking the allegations against Dominion.
Efforts by Fox News and other defendants to have the Dominion lawsuits dismissed have been rejected by the courts.
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