Does a company named Scytl control votes cast in United States elections because Dominion Voting Systems and other election technology companies upload election results to Scytl databases? No, that's not true: The OSET (Open Source Election Technology) Institute in Palo Alto, California, told Lead Stories that votes are recorded and stored locally, and remain under the authority of local election boards and secretaries of state offices. Dominion, a Canadian company with its U.S. headquarters in Denver, told Lead Stories that it is not in control of votes. A statement on the website of Scytl, an election technology company based in Spain, also points to the company not being in control of votes cast in the U.S.
The claim appeared in a video in a Facebook post (archived here) published November 16, 2020, under the title "The Left Is Terrified of This Question About the 2020 Election." In the video, conservative internet talk show host Dan Bongino raises questions about the security of U.S. elections.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Nov 19 21:00:16 2020 UTC)
At about the 5-minute mark, he asks:
Where exactly do the votes go? Because when you have paper ballots, you do this thing, like fill it out. You give them the paper and they have the paper. So, we can check your vote. I know it sounds crazy. But where exactly, when it is an electronic, software tabulation system -- with hardware and everything. Where exactly does your vote go? You hit a button, fill out a circle, whatever. Where do they go? Listen to this guy because this is very, very weird, how when you vote using a Dominion system where they go. Check this out.
Bongino then cuts to a clip of Russell Ramsland of Texas-based Allied Security Operations Group. This is what Ramsland, described by the New York Times as "a businessman who ran for Congress in Texas as a Republican in 2016 and was defeated in the primary," says in the video, beginning at about the 5:24-minute mark:
The end game of the discussion needs to be that there are so many unexplainable -- or at least at this point -- unexplainable troubling questions that real authority needs to look into it, and take it very seriously. The people at the top of the pyramid appear to be companies like SGO Smartmatic and Scytl. Scytl actually maintains a series of databases that all sorts of voting companies down here at the bottom of the pyramid report up to. In the case of if ES&S' vote is running your election, it will report up to a database called Clarity. Clarity is owned by Scytl.
If Dominion is your vote counting company, it will upload to a database called Democracy Suite that is controlled by Scytl. It's all Scytl and it is all up there at the top of the pyramid. You can see right there that Clarity and Scytl is where all the votes are residing. They are not residing in some safe, secure little server that is controlled by the county or even the secretary of state or anyone else there. It's controlled by Scytl."
After the Ramsland clip, Bongino says, "Uhm. That's interesting."
Gregory Miller, chief operating officer and co-founder of the OSET Institute -- which describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit election technology research, development, and education organization -- said the results of vote tabulations remain in the U.S.
"Votes are not residing in any sort of a server that's outside of the direct control of the county or the secretaries of state," he told Lead Stories in a telephone interview. He said:
Scytl has no involvement here, whatsoever. We know for a fact what the process of regulatory procedures are in these states for the storage of the ballots. And we know for a fact that these companies that you're mentioning are not in privity with this process at all.
A statement titled, "Scytl strongly denies the fake news related to the U.S. elections" on the company's website says Scytl didn't have any direct involvement in U.S. elections:
Scytl did NOT provide any electronic voting machines to US jurisdictions and does NOT tabulate, tally or count votes in US public elections.
A Dominion Voting Systems official, who asked not to be named, wrote in an email that it would be illegal for Scytl to be in control of votes made and tabulated in this country because "the U.S. Election Assistance Commission literally sets standards for voting system testing and certification."
"The whole interview is patently absurd, the official wrote of the Bongino video. "The technical claims are 100% false or incomprehensible."
Miller, of the OSET Institute, said that nearly all of what Ramsland says in the video is inaccurate. For example, Ramsland says SGO Smartmatic and Scytl are major players in vote tabulations, voting machines, voting technology and other aspect of U.S. elections. Miller said Dominion as well as Election Systems & Software (ES&S), based in Omaha, Nebraska, and Hart InterCivic, based in Austin, Texas, represent about 90% of the U.S. market for voting systems. In an email to Lead Stories, Miller outlined what he said were other inaccuracies in Ramsland's statement.
"Scytl owns an election night reporting service called Clarity (They acquired it as a product of their purchasing a company called SOE in Florida)," he wrote. "Clarity is simply an unofficial results reporting service; no official ballot records are stored there. Democracy Suite is a product owned by Dominion, not Scytl."
While Bongino referred to Ramsland as an election fraud expert, Miller disagrees.
"I have been in the election security space for 15 years," he said. I have never seen nor heard of this individual in that capacity. I have heard of his name related to a circle of conspiracy theorists who believe there is rampant voter fraud that has never been found."
"From the video he certainly has demonstrated he has no clear knowledge of the relationships between the various technology products or ownerships as he described," Miller said of Ramsland.
Lead Stories has debunked various claims about Dominion since the election. Here are some of our latest stories:
- Fact Check: Dominion Voting Machines Do NOT Use Smartmatic Software -- There Is No Connection Between The Two Companies
- Fact Check: US Army Did NOT Seize Dominion Servers In Germany
- Fact Check: Dominion Voting Systems Did NOT Delete 2.7 Million Trump Votes