27 April 2006

Bexar's early voters to put pen to paper

MySA - 04/27/2006

Bexar County's electronic voting machines — for which it paid $8 million — will be unplugged when early voting starts Monday in local elections because the equipment supplier failed to deliver the necessary software, according to county officials.

The county Elections Department instead will use emergency paper ballots and may have to do so again on election day, May 13.

County officials say they have no guarantee from Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software that it'll have the touch-screen voting machines ready by then.

And the hassles don't stop there: The company also hasn't delivered programming for the county's hand-held optical scanners, which could mean counting votes by hand.

"It sure is exasperating," County Judge Nelson Wolff said. "We are looking at avenues to hold them responsible for this."

Bexar County isn't alone; the company left many other Texas counties in a similar predicament.

Scott Haywood, spokesman for the Texas secretary of state's office, said ES&S has contracts with more than 140 counties, and most will be affected by the company's apparent breakdown.

[...] ES&S isn't under fire in Texas alone.

On Monday, Oregon's secretary of state sued the company, saying it failed to deliver $1 million worth of electronic voting machines for disabled voters.


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