A business that for years provided key election services to San Luis Obispo County is barred from doing business in California and has a federal tax lien of $270,000, records show.
Now, San Luis Obispo County and five other California counties have contracted for the same election services with what business executives assert is a new company. But there’s evidence the two are related — if not the same business.
The new business, Integrated Voting Systems, shares a working name, address and other details with the original business: Integrated Voting Solutions. And for nearly two years, Integrated Voting Systems has done business as Integrated Voting Solutions.
In June, that company caused a critical ballot error that required a recount in a Colorado county, leading to news stories that linked the company to the one in “hot water” in California.
That prompted the California Secretary of State’s Office to question if the business is putting upcoming elections at risk — and demand a response.
The response the state got was a denial from an attorney for Integrated Voting Systems that the business has any affiliation with Integrated Voting Solutions, saying the companies “are not related in any way,” as well as criticism of the news stories.
San Luis Obispo County officials said they plan to stick with the vendor for now, but they’ve secured backup in case something goes wrong before November.
New contract with San Luis Obispo County
San Luis Obispo County has paid Integrated Voting Solutions hundreds of thousands of dollars for ballot printing and mailing services provided from 2005 through the end of the 2016 presidential general election, when the contract expired.
In June 2017, the California Franchise Tax Board suspended Integrated Voting Solutions for failing to file a tax return and failing to pay taxes, board spokesman Jason Montiel said. The results of the suspension include losing the right to conduct any business and the right to use its corporate name.
San Luis Obispo County briefly contracted with another company for ballot printing services for a special election in 2017. Then, in February 2018, the county entered into a contract with Integrated Voting Systems through the end of the year, including printing ballots and providing mailing services for the November general election.
The current contract says the the agreement is between San Luis Obispo County and “Integrated Voting Systems, Inc. dba, Integrated Voting Solutions, an independent contractor.”
County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong said that when the county sent out a request for information to potential ballot printers last year, Integrated Voting Systems responded, not Integrated Voting Solutions.
In Fresno County, the Board of Supervisors in March approved a retroactive agreement that transferred its existing contract with Integrated Voting Solutions to Integrated Voting Systems for ballot printing and mailing services.
Corporations sometimes do business under fictitious business names for a variety of reasons, and they are required by state law to register such names with the county in which they are doing business.
Integrated Voting Systems registered to use the name Integrated Voting Solutions in Fresno County in September 2016. The filing lists the address as 1931 G St. in downtown Fresno and the president as Rebecca Kozlowski.
Systems vs. Solutions
Integrated Voting Systems appears to be new in name only.
Both companies list agents with the same last name at the same address in state documents. Both appear to be operating as interchangeable vendors. And both have run afoul of the federal Internal Revenue Service.
According to the California Secretary of State’s office, the suspended Integrated Voting Solutions is a domestic corporation registered to Eric Kozlowski at 4215 S. Dans St. in Visalia. A phone number listed in voter registration records for both Kozlowski and the Dans Street address had been disconnected.
The Secretary of State lists the other vendor, Integrated Voting Systems, as a company incorporated in Delaware. It is licensed to do business in California and is in good standing.
However, Integrated Voting Systems lists the same address as Integrated Voting Solutions and an agent with the same last name, Rebecca Kozlowski.
Both corporations are apparently behind on their federal taxes.
On April 25, a federal tax lien of $270,935 was filed against Integrated Voting Solutions in Tulare County Superior Court.
On May 9, a federal tax lien of $73,577 was filed against Integrated Voting Systems in Fresno County Superior Court.
Ranjiv Purewal, who identified himself as the CEO of Integrated Voting Systems, sent an email to The Fresno Bee, The Tribune’s sister paper, apparently in response to a voicemail left with Integrated Voting Solutions.
The email reads: “This is simple. Our company is Integrated Voting Systems, Inc., a registered Delaware corporation (that) is in good standing with the states we do business. Integrated Voting Solutions, Inc. a California (corporation), is not us. We are registered with the SOS as a ballot printer and finisher. Attached are our certification letters. We have no issues with providing services for the November election.”
The attached letters say Integrated Voting Systems is licensed to provide a variety of election services, but they also note that Integrated Voting Systems has been doing business as Integrated Voting Solutions.
When asked about the connection between the two companies Purewal said his company’s legal name is Integrated Voting Systems, but it uses the trade name Integrated Voting Solutions.
He would not comment further on the relationship between the corporations and the federal tax liens against both.
Trouble in Colorado
In Montrose, Colorado, in June, a printing mistake by Integrated Voting Solutions led to a manual recount of more than 10,600 ballots, the Daily Sentinel reported.
The company contracted with Montrose County was Integrated Voting Systems, using the name Integrated Voting Solutions. A spokeswoman for the vendor’s Denver office took full responsibility for the printing mistake, saying it was “human error” on the part of her company.
According to the Colorado Secretary of State, Integrated Voting Systems registered as a business in Colorado in January 2017.
After learning of the trouble in Colorado, the California Secretary of State’s office sent a letter to Integrated Voting Systems, noted as doing business as Integrated Voting Solutions, expressing concern over the company’s ability to fulfill its printing contracts with Fresno, Lassen, Marin, Mendocino, San Luis Obispo and Siskiyou counties.
An attorney representing Integrated Voting Systems, Nathan Miller with Miller & Ayala Attorneys at Law LLP, responded in a July 13 letter that the company “has no affiliation” Integrated Voting Solutions.
“Please understand, Integrated Voting Systems, Inc. is a registered Delaware corporation and is in good standing with all of the states it does business in,” the letter says. “The recent news article that you reference refers to Integrated Voting Solutions, Inc. a California Corp. and Central Valley Presort Inc., which are companies that are not related in any way to my client.”
The letter signed by Miller continues that the “hot water” issues in California reported on by the Frenso Bee and a Colorado paper, “have nothing to do with my client and are likely related to other companies,” and that he would ask for retractions.
As of July 25, the Fresno Bee reporter had not received any such request.
Miller did not return a phone call from The Tribune.
The Secretary of State’s Office conducted a surprise inspection of the ballot printing facility in Dinuba, and according to a spokesperson, “found their facility to be in compliance with state regulations and meeting the standards set forth in their certification.”
San Luis Obispo County intends to continue to use Integrated Voting Systems services, as contracted.
“Changing ballot printers between the primary and general election is generally ill-advised,” Gong said.
“Nonetheless, I am working with another certified ballot printer to provide backup services in case there is some reason that we should switch,” Gong said. “Being prudent on behalf of our voters, this will provide contingency planning and business continuity in case the need arises.”