WV County Withholds $1.2 Million Payment to Electronic Voting Machine Company
'They Are Hiding Out,' Says County Commissioner About Previous Company Promises to Service the County
By John Gideon on 4/28/2006, 11:20am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

The ES&S Meltdown around the country which The BRAD BLOG exclusively covered yesterday, as the Texas Sec. of State's office informed Election Officials to "create emergency paper ballots", now continues to widen to other states around the country.

Legal action in two more states against Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), the largest Electronic Voting Machine Company in America, has now commenced.

In Indiana, the a formal complaint has been filed today against ES&S by the Sec. of State for failures to provide working equipment and ballots in several counties in time for early primary voting in the Hoosier State.

In West Virginia, the County Commissioners Association announced they will be filing legal action against the company with the help of the WV Sec. of State and Attorney General's office for similar problems, some of which we reported late last night here at The BRAD BLOG. As well, one county Manager has been told to withhold payment of a $1.2 million check made out to the company until the problems are corrected.

The Associated Press covers the developing situation in Indiana where Sec. of State Todd Rokita has filed his formal complaint against ES&S for violating state law. The Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal covers it this way...

Rokita already had been investigating problems that counties have had with the company --- which include delays in the delivery of crucial voting equipment and ballots and errors in programming. But his action Friday launches a formal process that could result in fines of $300,000 for each violation of state law.

He has scheduled a 9 a.m. hearing on May 8 to consider evidence and testimony.

"Hoosiers deserve voting systems that comply with the high standards mandated by Indiana law," Rokita said in a written statement. "The May 8th hearing is a mechanism for voters, election administrators, and vendors to know that Indiana will hold accountable, where appropriate, those who wrongly put at risk the integrity of our voting process."

ES&S spokesman Ken Fields said in a statement that the company "will vigorously defend against the allegations."

According to Rokita's complaint, ES&S provided defective voting system equipment, software and services to Johnson, St. Joseph and Marion counties. Election officials in other counties have complained of similar problems.

Last week, during a preliminary hearing Rokita had to gather evidence, ES&S Senior Vice President John Groh apologized for what he called service problems but said they were not violations of state law.

Fields said in his statement Friday that Rokita's complaint "fails to include many important facts about the election readiness services and support process in Indiana."

"We intend to make sure that all of the facts are considered as a part of the review of this situation," he said. "Those facts will demonstrate that our company has worked hard to assist Indiana counties in meeting their obligation to conduct fair and accurate elections."

In West Virginia, where the County Commissioners Association announced today they will be filing legal action against ES&S, the Charleston Daily Mail reports that Kanawha County, Commission President Kent Carper has locked up a check made out for $1.2M, which represents payment for the county's ES&S voting machines, in his desk drawer.

Carper and other commissioners are deeply upset at the service from ES&S, or lack thereof...

"(The company) has embarrassed themselves," Carper said. "I got a feeling this will get their attention."
County Commissioner Dave Hardy noted with the May 9 primary election less than two weeks away, getting the machines online is critical.

"I can't think of anything more important right now," Hardy said. "The whole credibility of our election process is riding on this."

Last September, company officials promised commissioners the machines would be available and compliant by the Jan. 1, 2006 deadline required by the Help America Vote Act.

"They sat there and told us that they would be very careful with Kanawha County, that they would have a presence here," Carper said. "Now they are hiding out."

It appears that a lot of the money that ES&S is raking in will be paid back out to attorneys who will have to go to court to try to defend the poor work of the company that counts (or is supposed to) more American votes than any other.

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