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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Private equity dominated Election Day. Not in terms of the winning candidates, but in terms of the election process itself.

Between the lines: The most-utilized election system and software companies are owned by U.S. private equity firms. Dominion Voting Systems is the best-known of these vendors, as it's become the subject of evidence-free conspiracy theories.

  • The Canada-founded and Denver-based company was acquired in mid-2018 by Staple Street Capital, a mid-market buyout firm co-founded by Carlyle Group and Cerberus vets.

Hart InterCivic is a Texas-based company whose systems were used in some of the Michigan and Georgia counties where some conspiracy theorists baselessly claim that Dominion (not Hart) changed votes from President Trump to Joe Biden.

  • Enlightenment Capital, a Washington, D.C., firm whose two lead partners have a history of significant donations to Democratic Party candidates, purchased Hart InterCivic from H.I.G. Capital this past summer.

ES&S of Omaha was founded in 1979, and appears to be the country's largest maker of voting machines.

  • It's been backed for decades by private equity firm McCarthy Capital, whose current president and managing partner has donated to Republican Party candidates.

Other certified providers include: Clear Ballot Group (Boston-based startup backed by VC firms like Bessemer Venture Partners), MicroVote (owned by Fidelity National Information Solutions) and Unisyn Voting Solutions (owned by an Asian lottery group).

Of note: Axios reached out to the private equity owners of Dominion, Hart InterCivic, and ES&S. None returned any calls or emails.

  • Dominion's owner is keeping a particularly low profile, removing the team, portfolio and contact pages from its website in recent days.

The bottom line: Private equity has one overarching goal, which is to general profits for itself and its investors. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it's very difficult to believe these firms were party to election-rigging, given that exposure of such misdeeds would destroy their portfolio companies' value.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 25, 2021 - Economy & Business

Merger Monday has been overrun by SPACs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Five companies this morning announced plans to go public via reverse mergers with SPACs, at an aggregate market value of more than $15 billion. And there might be even more by the time you read this.

The bottom line: SPAC merger activity hasn't peaked. If anything, it's just getting started.

Updated 44 mins ago - Health

WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Health measures taken to combat COVID-19 before the emergence of Omicron would also help against the new variant of concern, World Health Organization officials said Friday.

What they're saying: Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said during a virtual briefing broadcast from Manila, Philippines, that border controls imposed by the U.S. and other nations can "buy time" to deal with the variant, but warned "every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases."

2 hours ago - Health

Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Nevada's Public Employees' Benefit Program Board voted Thursday to charge workers enrolled in public employee health insurance plans a surcharge of up to $55 a month if they're not vaccinated against COVID-19, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state to announce such a move, per AP.