03 May 2005

Voting-machine maker sues Blackwell

Julie Carr Smyth - May 03, 2005

Columbus - Voting-machine maker Election Systems & Software sued Ohio's elections chief Monday, claiming he delivered a virtual monopoly to Diebold Inc. last month that breaches his deal with ES&S.

The lawsuit, filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, charges that Secretary of State Ken Blackwell held secret, closed-door negotiations with Diebold unbeknownst to ES&S and a third certified vendor, Hart Intercivic.
Hart is also tied up in court against Blackwell over an earlier directive.

[...] ES&S seeks a temporary restraining order against an April 14 decision by Blackwell clearing the way for county boards to replace older punch-card machines with touch screens equipped with a paper trail, which Diebold makes.

Just 92 days earlier, Blackwell had said county boards could only buy optical-scan machines, which Diebold, ES&S and Hart all offer.

Many perceive Blackwell's deal with Diebold as giving the politically connected Ohio company a virtual lock on the state's $100 million voting-machine conversion.

Counties will be compelled to pick a single type of machine for all types of voters, for simplicity and price reasons, the argument goes, as federal deadlines for the conversion loom. A new state law requires voting machines to offer a paper record.

[...] Walch said the state must be prepared, under the Help America Vote Act, with new voting machines for the next federal election - which could be as soon as January.


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