Voting machine delay is welcome decision

The American Press

<p class="indent">The state has decided to delay contract negotiations with a company that submitted the low bid for the purchase of voting machines. Interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has been advised by the Office of State Procurement to hold off on any discussions with Dominion Voting Systems.</p><p class="indent">Elections Systems and Software, one of the losing bidders, filed a protest and it will be considered before the $95 million contract proceeds. The company contends Ardoin mishandled the process to replace 10,000 early voting and Election Day machines.</p><p class="indent">Thomas Clark, an attorney representing Elections Systems, said, “This solicitation, the evaluation process and resulting award have all been marred by hastiness and willful blindness to the proposals submitted.”</p><p class="indent">The bid process started before Ardoin became secretary and continued after he took office. Former Secretary of State Tom Schedler resigned over a sexual harassment scandal, and Ardoin became secretary. The Advocate said Ardoin has defended the bid process, saying the evaluation committee selected the best machines designed to protect election security and integrity.</p><p class="indent">The Elections Systems bid ranged from $125 million to nearly $160 million. Hart InterCivic’s bid ranged from $115 million to $121 million. Dominion would lease the machines to the state for $85 million.</p><p class="indent">Some of the candidates for secretary of state in a Nov. 6 special election in mid-August asked that the purchase process be delayed. Ardoin is one of the candidates. Contract talks are being delayed under a state law that says it’s necessary unless the machines are urgently needed.</p><p class="indent">Paula Tregre, director of the Office of State Procurement, will use an analysis done by lawyers and other experts to either uphold or overturn the contract award. Whatever decision she makes can be appealed.</p><p class="indent">The office hasn’t purchased voting machines since 2005. The current goal is to replace those machines with smaller devices that have improved technology and a paper record of votes, all designed to protect the state’s voting system that has worked well in the past.</p><p class="indent">This delay does serve the state’s best interests. We hope it might also help explain why the three bids were so different. If a higher cost, for example, improves election security and integrity, is it worth it?</p>””Voting Machines

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